I always loved writing. Ever since I was seven years old, I remember being the one in my class who would write the longest, craziest stories. I even liked to sit at my desk and read the dictionary during free reading time! Yeah, I was weird. Besides reading and writing, I loved playing sports, especially basketball, baseball, tennis, and ping-pong. I actually ended up becoming a very serious ping-pong player in high school and traveled the country playing in tournaments and the junior Olympics!
When you were a child did you ever have moments when you decided that you were going to be a writer when you grew up?
In 4th grade, I was reading my stories to my classmates during creative writing time and they would laugh like crazy. I remember thinking that if I can make kids laugh with my writing, that would be a pretty awesome thing to do when I grew up.
What audience did you have in mind for your career as a writer - adult or children?
For the foreseeable future, it will definitely be all kids and teens. That’s actually the strongest market for books right now, plus it’s the most fun to write. It’s a win-win!
When was it published?
The first SCARY SCHOOL book was released on June 21, 2011.
Was your first book accepted immediately? or did you experience a number of rejections?
Yes, there were a number of rejections. My first book series was actually one called RUDY AND THE BEAST: MY HOMEWORK ATE MY DOG! which is a kid’s fantasy series very similar to Harry Potter. My publisher, HarperCollins, really liked that book, but wanted me to write something lighter and funnier, which ended up becoming Scary School. The good news is that I ended up publishing Rudy and the Beast myself, and it’s available directly through my website www.ScarySchool.com and on Amazon. Many kids are writing to me saying how much they love that book as well and are asking for more in the series.
Do you do other types of writing - for example, educational, nonfiction, magazine work?
Right now I’m also teaching children’s and YA writing at Writing Pad in Los Angeles, which is a fantastic writing school for adults that offers classes on all facets of writing – screenwriting, poetry, playwriting, books, etc. Any writers out there interested in writing books, I’d really recommend taking my 5-week course, and I also offer one day classes in how to get published. Many of my pupils have been getting agents and publishing deals, and I pride myself on a practical, pro-active approach to writing that will yield positive results. You can check it out at WritingPad.com.
What gave you the idea for SCARY SCHOOL?
With the whole craze of vampire and werewolf and zombie horror going on right now, I wondered what it would be like if those monsters ACTUALLY existed as kids. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a horrible (but also hilarious) situation it would be if monsters went to school with normal kids and what it would be like in a school where just making it to lunch with all your arms and legs is considered a great day. The possibilities for fun characters and storylines seemed endless, and that became SCARY SCHOOL.
Have any of your books earned special recognition?
SCARY SCHOOL has garnered rave reviews thus far, which I am very happy about. You can read some of my favorites at http://www.scaryschool.com/press.html. I know the book has been submitted for children’s humor awards and children’s horror awards, so my ghost-fingers are crossed!
When is your next book going to be in book stores?
SCARY SCHOOL, BOOK 2: Monsters on the March, will be released June 26, 2012. Book 3, (title still a secret) will be released June 2013.
Do you like to include humor in your stories? Or adventure? Or mystery?
I love to include all three! SCARY SCHOOL is full or comedy, spookiness, adventure and mystery, especially when we get into Books 2 and 3. The most important I try to incorporate into my books is FUN. All of those elements listed are qualities that add to the fun of the story and make reading easy and enjoyable, which is so important for middle-grade books in order to instill that love of reading.
Has anyone ever written you a fan letter that you’d like to share?
Ha Ha. Well, I did something pretty interesting with SCARY SCHOOL. The kids actually have to visit the website, www.ScarySchool.com, in order to unlock the final secret chapter to finish the book. Once at the website, there is a special game that they can play in order see if they have a “super-brain”, and once they beat the game, they are given special instructions to write to me to be given priority position for admittance into Scary School. So, I’m getting a bunch of emails every day from kids telling me what they liked about Scary School, that they have a “super-brain,” and all sorts of off-the-wall questions. There were so many, I actually created a whole section on the Scary School facebook page where I post the most hilarious ones.