In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
I’m so honored that David Lubar accepted an invitation to this interview! I’ve admired his books for years. He’s one of those authors whose books I pass to my reluctant readers and suddenly, they were picking up his other books and then asking for other books that were similar. His most popular books in my library were the Weenies books. I also promoted Punished! too many times to count, so excited there is a sequel, Numbed! out October, 2013! I’m thrilled to share the interview- what a versatile, prolific, and humorous author! I highly admire David’s books and additionally appreciate his communication on Facebook. It has been wonderful to hear his opinion on some of my personal posts in addition to reading what he has to say on his own Facebook page.
I have blogged about David Lubar before! I mentioned his fantastic topical and literary index for his Weenies book collection. http://www.davidlubar.com/weenies_index.html It is quite impressive and thorough for those who would like to find out which story connects with advertising, teasing, technology, or tolerance (or hundreds of other topics)! I highly recommend purchasing the Weenies series and using one of the creepy/humorous short stories as a quick share for a class lesson!
Also, there is another fun resource to accompany David’s book Dunk- bonus material. http://davidlubar.com/dunkdvd.html
New addition to this interview- Numbed! Review!: (So honored I received an advanced readers copy of this book!) Numbed! By David Lubar, humor/science fiction/math, 4th grade and up- this book is the perfect combination of humor and math. Terrific introduction to why math is important and integrated into our everyday lives in vital ways. I enjoyed reading how two stubborn boys learned how to embrace and solve math problems within a short period of time after being numbed (losing all functioning math skills) by a little robot who loved math and knew they needed to be taught a lesson. Interesting resolution and fun story. I think this book would be a good read aloud for teachers who want that combination of literacy and math in a natural humorous way. Recommended. Affirmative. Goodreads Summary: “When Logan’s class takes a trip to a math museum, his mischievous friend Benedict is sure it will be a boring day until he discovers a robot and its creator in an off-limits area. The robot proves feisty, and soon both boys get zapped. They realize only later that they left the museum without their math skills. To get back the knowledge they need for school not to mention buying food at the mall, divvying up dinner at home, and much more they’ll have to get back to the museum and pass a series of math challenges. Being numbed will teach Logan and Benedict just how useful, and even fun, math can be.”
What was your favorite childhood book memory?
Hunting. That’s what I remember most. I’d go to the library, or to the wonderland of Brentano’s Book Store, and scan the shelves, looking for magic (either figuratively, or literally – I went through a period where magic was my hobby).
I went book hunting as a child as well! Well, antique comic book hunting. Some of my favorite childhood memories were of being curled up on a chair in the book section of an antique shop reading an old comic book while my parents searched for antiques for their clients…
Are there any authors or books that you liked as a child that you still read now?
I’m old enough that the authors I liked as a child aren’t producing anything new, or even breathing, but I’ve been meaning to reread one of my all-time childhood favorite series, the Freddy the Pig books. (I’ve held off out of fear that reality will crush nostalgia.)
I agree, don’t ruin your favorite book memory. I did reading to my son an old favorite, now I have him listen to the audiobooks so that my special memories are no longer squashed.
Have you read any children’s literature books recently?
Jordan Sonnenblick gave me a look at his YA novel, Are You Experienced, before publication, and I read a galley of the first book in Tony Abbott’s middle-grade Copernicus Legacy series. Both were wonderful.
Add two more to my “to read” list, thank you!
What was a favorite genre you read as a child? How have your tastes changed as an adult?
I read a lot of science fiction, and a lot of science. I loved Berton Roueche’s medical detective stories, Martin Gardner’s science and math books, and Isaac Asimov’s endless essays about everything. After years (no exaggeration) of wavering out of fear, I finally tackled math, myself, in a sequel to Punished!, called Numbed! (In retrospect, using exclamation points in titles was not a great idea.) My fear came from feeling it would be a lot harder to write entertaining prose about math than it was to write about the wordplay in Punished! (See – there’s that stupid exclamation point, again.) But I’m happy with the way it came out.
My school library catalog would agree, it hates exclamation points! Thrilled that you’ve written Numbed– To be released October 1st, 2013!
Do you still have any of your books from when you were a child?
I have some of them, including a picture book, The Cat with the Too Long Tail, some Pogo collections, and several beloved anthologies, including a great collection of light verse and a complete Lewis Carroll. I also have my Famous Monsters of Filmland Monster Makeup Book. (My taste for the strange is not a recent development.)
Are you in a writers group? If so, has it helped you?
I am not in a group, but I’m fortunate to have a variety of friends who will look at something if I need feedback. I think being in a group helped when I was starting out. The key thing is to find supportive people who don’t have a deep-seated need to destroy the hopes and dreams of others.
Do you have a key writing tips for kids? Or adults?
Learn to love revision. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t be too easy on yourself. Floss your teeth.
Very good advice, especially the last one… 🙂
I wonder how much dentists make off of teens avoiding flossing!
Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
This was the year where I made enemies out of many librarians with limited budgets by having eight books come out. (Some were re-releases, some were very short.) This was a bit of a fluke. The book I’m focusing on for most of my blatant promotional efforts is Extremities; Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge. I love short stories. But they are a tough sell. It took me at least ten years to get this collection published. (I’ve had great luck with my younger stories. The Weenies books are very popular. The next one, Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies, comes out in 2014) I had several false starts, and at one point bought it back from a publisher after they were purchased by Amazon. Happily, it ended up where it belongs, with Tor. They’ve done an amazing job with the art and cover.
Beside Extremities, I have a series, Looniverse, in Scholastic’s new Branches line of early chapter books. Stranger Things, Meltdown Madness, and Dinosaur Disaster are all 2013 releases. The fourth book, Stage Fright, comes out next year. It was fun working on something for younger readers. The first three books in my six book Monsteriffic Tales series hit the shelves this year, courtesy of Tor/Starscape. Hyde and Shriek came out in January, followed by The Vanishing Vampire and The Unwilling Witch. The exclamatory Numbed! comes out in October from Lerner. Once again, I offer my apologies to librarians everywhere.
How do you feel about the development and growth of the e-Book industry?
I have mixed feelings. I love the ease with which someone can obtain a book, but I hate the way that this has decimated the neighborhood book stores. But it’s a great way to get things out there easily. I have three ebooks, myself, available wherever electrons are sold. It Seemed Funny at the Time is a collection of my humor pieces from magazines, and other places, and includes a whole section of humor for librarians. Pulling up Stakes is a collection of my published anthology pieces, including those I did for Don Gallo, and other well-known anthologists. Zero Tolerance Meets the Alien Death Ray is a collection of middle grade stories that were not appropriate, for various reasons, for the Weenies books.
Did you always plan on a writing career or if not…?
I was going to be a scientist of some sort. But I fell in love at first sip (mmmm, hemlock) with philosophy. And, once you get a philosophy degree, you either have to become a lawyer, a professor, a waiter, a stand-up comic, or a writer.
What truly influences you as a writer?
Ideas. I love putting things together in new ways. I love creation – wordplay, plot twists, anything that makes me (and thus, my reader) emit a gasp of “Aha!” I’m constantly stockpiling ideas. Sometimes, I get one that is so enthralling, I need to write the story immediately, just to see how it shapes up. Other times, especially for novels, I like to let things gestate. (Hey – I’d like to go jogging, but I have to wait an hour because I gestate. See – that idea popped into my mind when I wrote the word “gestate.” In this case, it was good for nothing more than a one liner. But, in many cases, the idea is good enough for a story.)
If you weren’t a writer, what occupation would you be working in?
Blood donor. It’s actually similar to being a writer, except the blood is taken every two or three weeks in a single large quantity, as opposed to every day in a trickle. (Actually, I don’t belong to the “writing is angst” school. I’m a happy subscriber to the Jane Yolen “take joy” approach to the craft.)
Did any teacher or mentor specifically influence you in your career?
My gym teachers pretty much assured that I would do great harm to many members of their profession in my work. (If you feel the same, you’ll love the first story in Extremities.)
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? (in honor of my husband who thinks it would be cool if I collect a list of author’s favorite pizza “You can learn a lot about a person from the pizza topping they like.”)
I’m a fan of east-coast pizza, as found in NY, NJ, and CT. I firmly believe that the true test of good thin crust pizza comes when you eat a plain slice. No toppings. Toppings change the pizza drastically. (I actually wrote a paragraph in Dunk where the main character is thinking about this. I realized I was voicing my opinion, and not advancing the plot in any way, so I deleted the scene. That’s actually another writing tip: watch for spots where you are voicing your ideas, passions, or opinions, and not really letting the character speak for herself.) If I do get toppings, I like something that is regionally known in the Lehigh Valley as “German pizza.” It’s basically a cheesesteak on a pizza – beef, onions, hot peppers. For a single topping, I’d opt for pepperoni. For gourmet fancy stuff, I’d go with caramelized leeks and prosciutto. My wife would opt for Canadian bacon and ham. That’s pretty tasty, too.
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was….
The habit I never break for my writing practice is…
keep revising until I’m satisfied I can’t make it any better.
If someone had told me…
I’d be popular in middle school (albeit 45 years or so after my first pass through there), I’d be giddy.
Why do people always assume…
(pretty much anything I can come up here with will make me look much meaner, grumpier, and snarkier than I really am, so let’s move on…)
Debbie, you forgot to ask me…
… if I do school visits.
Why, yes. I love doing that. Please visit my web site, www.davidlubar.com for details. And speaking of the Internet, if you are comfortable with adult humor and irreverence, please follow me on Twitter as @davidlubar. And check out my slightly mature stand-up comedy performance on Youtube. It’s cryptically called “David Lubar first public stand-up performance.” And buy my books. And tell your friends about my books. And your friends’ kids. And let me know if I ever get too blatantly self promotional.
Another Interview with David Lubar: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/authors/interviews/DavidLubar.html
Children’s Literature interview and book reviews:
TeachingBooks.net David Lubar Feature: http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?aid=4146
Yet another author interview, this one on Author Turf:
I keep up with Teachers Write over the summers and loved the Q/A that David and a few other authors participated in recently. If you go to this link you’ll learn more about how David created the topical and literary index for his Weenies books and also many other useful suggestions and ideas from three fantastic authors: http://www.katemessner.com/teachers-write-71713-q-and-a-wednesday/
Random Collection of Videos Connected with David Lubar and his books:
First: My Rotten Life– listen to a small portion of the story:
and watch a book trailer:
Hyde and Shriek Book Trailer:
Conversation with David Lubar about Hidden Talents/True Talents:
Fantastic Video Interview with David Lubar: – I have subscribed to this video series, what a vast array of authors they have interviewed!
Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie Book Trailer:
Book Description of Extremities:
One of my favorite jokes- From Guys Read Funny Business – shared with so many classes, David takes part in telling the joke and also is a contributor in the book:
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