Monday, February 8, 2016

GARY SCHMIDT: A #NY16SCBWI Pre-conference Interview

This is it. The week writers and illustrators from all over the world will descend on New York City for the SCBWI conference.

While many are counting down to the start of the conference, I'm already looking forward to a perfect "the end" when the award-winning and extraordinarily talented Gary Schmidt delivers this year's final keynote.

Gary Schmidt is the author of the Newbery Honor books The Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminister Boy. His Okay For Now was a National Book Award Finalist and a Children's Choice Award winner. His latest novel is Orbiting Jupiter. He teaches writing and literature at Calvin College, and is a member of the faculty for Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children.

A huge thank you to Gary for taking the time to answer a few questions before the conference gets underway.

You were a kid who wasn’t a reader until the right teacher came into your life. You are now a professor of English, as well as a writer. What brought you down this career path?

I think the love of story led me down my career path.  I did learn to read, and to love story, and to love what words can do--their miraculous way of communicating and engaging.  I went to college to become a lawyer, and did finish a political science major, thinking that I might want to go into local or state politics, but in the end, I loved my English classes, and the literature that spoke so powerfully to me.  It seemed the obvious career path to share what I loved.

You’ll be speaking at the conference’s novel revision intensive—a much-coveted event. Can you give us a glimpse of what you’ll be sharing with the lucky few who will be attending?

On the intensive:  We sometimes speak of a passage's tone, or even a novel's tone, but I'm not sure we all are talking about the same thing, or even if we can define the idea of tone, or even if we can specify what elements go into tone.  So this intensive is intended to wrestle with the element of tone in our writing, to recognize and define tone in ways that contribute to a story's meaning and presentation.

What is the best (or favorite) piece of writing advice you have ever been given?

Read a lot.


We look forward to seeing you at the conference, but if you can't be there, join us as we blog live from the conference floor at The Official SCBWI Conference Blog. You can follow us on Twitter using the official conference hashtag #NY16SCBWI