This month I was able to travel back to my Home and Native Land for an Alumni Awards Gala at my alma matter. It was an interesting chance to reflect back on who I was as a young student and how my life has changed since. My main takeaway from revisiting the campus was that the trees had all gotten a lot bigger! They also made this nifty little introductory video. If you've ever wanted to catch a glimpse of my workspace or home, this is your chance:
I had a great chat with Rege Behe from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about Sophie Quire and the power of stories--including this bit about the inspiration behind the whole book:
Jonathan Auxier's mother, Doris Hutton, was raised on a wheat farm in a remote part of North Dakota. Hutton grew up in a strict and hard-working Catholic family where books and education were not the top priorities.
Somehow, Hutton became an avid reader, even though she had limited access to books and no one with whom to share her love of reading. By the time she was 15, she had read every book in the area's tiny library.
There was literally nothing left for her to read.
“Every time she would tell me about that, I would always add a ‘what if' to it,” says Auxier, the author the new young-adult novel “Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard” (Amulet Books, $18.95). “I literally imagined, what if she found one last book and if it was more than just a story.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down with Paul Guggenheimer of Essential Pittsburgh to talk about Children's Books. I'm a big fan of public radio, so this was a huge thrill. An excerpt from the transcript:
Dazzled by the bizarre and eccentric characters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, children’s author Jonathan Auxier has always been fascinated by peculiar storytelling.
Auxier loves his job, but admits it can sometimes be difficult to write for children of different ages because their maturity and ability are so varied.
He says reading aloud is one of the best ways to connect with a child. Not only is the time great for bonding, but reading a more complicated story to a child can expose them to a reading and thought level above their norm. He tries to juxtapose fun plot lines and characters with interesting rhetorical styles in his own work.
“So in the instance of Peter Nimble, the book is actually fairly dense on a word level, it’s got very complicated language structure. I was working out of a tradition of 18th century neoclassical writers…but the story itself has a very childlike sensibility and I love mixing that.”
You can hear the whole interview (12 min) on the WESA website.
Hi there! It's been a while since my last post. I've been doing lots of school visits all over the country and am finally home working on my next book(!). In the meantime, you should check out my recent interview over at Novel Novice. They're dedicating the entire month of March to Middle-Grade books and I was lucky enough to be featured!
Aside from the usual topics of reading and the power of children's literature, we also discussed more profound things like what I like on my pizza and what dead person I would most love to have dinner with.[1. I must admit that my answer to the second question was in part inspired by a recent viewing of the Dr Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor"] Even better, they asked me to draw a picture for them ... I decided to go with a velociraptor eating a puppy sandwich:
Just looking at it makes me hungry! To read the whole interview, click here:
Some months ago, the kind folks at Project Mayhem ran a very kind review of Peter Nimble. Last week, they asked me to contribute something for a post about what authors miss from their pre-published days. As fun as being published is, I could think of at least one thing that I miss from the old days of blindly hoping for publication -- allow me to excerpt:
Before I had a book in the world, I had no real sense of my audience. Audience was an abstract idea that couldn't be pinned down and had little say in my storytelling. With the publication of Peter Nimble, however, I've suddenly found myself writing stories with specific readers in mind. It's hard to type a sentence without thinking: I wonder what Librarian X or Critic Y will think of this? While such thoughts may be helpful during revisions, they can be crippling to the early stages of the creative process.
Project Mayhem also got contributions from authors Kate Messner and Stephen Messer. To read their responses and some great reader comments, check out the link below:
PROJECT MAYHEM: Rushing Towards Your Dream? Wait.
I was featured in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this Sunday. For those interested, you can read my interview here. The photograph is of me sitting in the local Argentinian coffee shop where I wrote the first draft of Peter Nimble back when I was in graduate school.
I've recently had a lot of readers/teachers/parents write me to ask about biblical allusions in Peter Nimble. Among them was my Trib interviewer, Rege Behe, who couldn't help but notice the similarities between baby Peter in his floating basket and baby Moses in the reeds. That led to a pretty fun conversation about biblical tropes in literature (which are ubiquitous).
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Auxier draws on fascination with children's literature for 'Peter Nimble'
I met Little Reviewer Elizabeth Johnson and her cartoonist husband last October in Portland (a city that the Washington Post has recently declared less awesome than Pittsburgh).[1. Elizabeth also ran a lovely Peter Nimble review, which you can read here.] This week, she's running an author interview and Peter Nimble giveaway. All you have to do is click here and write a comment on her site! Those of you who resolved to read more blind-thief stories in the new year will finally have your chance! While you're at it, check out the interview, in which I reveal my childhood gripe about the Oz series and my favorite illustration from the book.
I've got an interview up at the WIRED GeekDad blog today. This is a big deal for me, as I've been a gigiantic fan of the blog ever since they taught me about this dot-matrix printer made from Legos and Crayola markers:
I was interviewed by Jonathan Liu, who also happens to be a virtuoso Etch-a-Sketch artist. Check it out:
And while you're at it, check out our interview. Mr Liu and I covered a ton of great topics -- including the importance of men modeling reading, the impact of nonsense on children's literature, the writing process, Laurence Sterne, yo-yos, etc. Also, I finally talk about the single work of children's literature that influenced me more than any other! (Hint: it's NOT Peter Pan!) Wanna know what book it was? Find out here.
You may recall that I went on blogging hiatus a few months back to complete the illustrations for Peter Nimble.[1. This was an ordeal that ended in my losing my eyesight for a few days. You can read about it here.] One of the wonderful things about drawing for days on end was that it gave me time to listen to all the audiobooks and podcasts I'd been putting off. One of the best things I listened to during this time was Katie Davis' Brain Burps About Books.
Brain Burps is a podcast dedicated to the world of children's literature -- every week Katie has marketing tips, business talk, interviews, and book reviews. I listened to every back episode of Katie's Podcast (nearly 50 hours!) while drawing one particularly frustrating picture. To my mind, this will always be the "Katie Davis" chapter:
So imagine my delight when Katie Davis asked if she could interview me for her show! We had a great time trying to conduct a conversation in post-hurricane conditions. Among the topics covered were inspirations for Peter Nimble, the importance of rules in a magical world, and our mutual love of the movie Jaws.[2. As if Katie wasn't cool enough to begin with, I learned in the interview that she was actually in the movie Jaws as an extra!]
Anyone interested in entering the world of children's literature need only to listen to Katie's show to learn the ropes ... any why not start with my episode? Check it out!
Hey, Gang! This was an exciting weekend for me. My in-laws in Pittsburgh threw a lovely little release party for the book. The night ended with a very late call from my Canadian family -- all screaming "WALL STREET JOURNAL!" So I went online and found this wonderful review of Peter Nimble, which includes phrases like "delightful" and "wholly captivating"!
Even more exciting, this weekend marked the end of the most recent Peter Nimble giveaway! Using a random number picker, I selected five winners from the hundreds of entrants. Each person gets a signed copy of the book and an awesome hand-printed Peter Nimble T-Shirt! Here they are:
Michael is a fellow graduate of the CMU Dramatic Writing program. He lives in Pittsburgh and writes books for children -- his upcoming novel, Latasha and the Little Red Tornado, hits stores this November. (He also wrote a pretty nice Peter Nimble review here!)
Mary Ann is a K-5 Librarian in Berkley, CA. She runs the blog Great Books for Kids, where she posts reviews on new picture and chapter books!
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Instead of a regular post today, I would kindly direct you all to Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, where the lovely Shannon Messenger has interviewed me about writing for younger audiences. Those burning to know more about my secret past as a professional yo-yo player are advised to check it out. Shannon's also giving away a copy of Peter Nimble to her readers, so if you still want a free book, here's your chance!
Tomorrow marks the official US release of Peter Nimble -- at which point I will unveil the (kinda huge) prize for my next giveaway. See you then!
For those interested, I've got an interview running over at the Literary Asylum. The Literary Asylum is a fantastic children's book site run by screenwriter and author Matt Cunningham. Matt is an awesome guy and something of a Batman expert.[1. Lisa Yee used Matt as a Batman encyclopedia while writing her latest novel Warp Speed.] He and I talk about the differences between writing books and writing screenplays/comics. I also give up some of the back story about about how Peter Nimble came to be.
Even better, Matt hotseats me into answering this all-important question:
MATT: Finally, if there was a zombie apocalypse (or I should say when!) and you were trapped inside a building with only one book to read, what would it be and why?
Now aren't you just dying to know what I picked? Click here to find out.