Today on the blog, I am glad to share with you a 5-question interview between Joe — one of my 9th graders last year — and Jeff Anderson, the author of the upcoming Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth. Joe read a copy of Zack Delacruz back in March, and was excited about it from page one.
He immediately wanted to get in touch with the author. Fortunately, Jeff Anderson is basically made of Awesome, and agreed to answer a few questions of Joe’s.
Jeff: Hey Joe,
I was happy to hear from one of my first readers. Pretty great how Mr. Wyzlic has lots of books. For me choice really mattered. I struggled as a reader for most of my life. Around your age I started being in plays and had to memorize lines. All that rereading made something click and I read better after that, but it wasn’t really till after college — as a teacher that I fell in love with books and started to want to write one. I always liked to write — for me.
Joe: What inspired you to be an author?
Jeff: To tell you the truth, my childhood wasn’t an entirely happy one. That was one of the reasons I became a teacher — in hopes of making life better for kids by being positive with them. I loved reading aloud to my fourth and fifth graders — actually any of the grades I taught through 8th — and I felt like I had a story to tell. And the particular book was inspired in part by my life, but also the students in my life in San Antonio.
Joe: What inspired you to write Zack Delacruz?
Jeff: I wanted a book my students would want to read. You know, cut out the boring parts. Have a fast pace. I am easily bored as a reader and I wanted something that was fast-paced and funny. I also wanted to see my hispanic and black kids represented in books where they just had normal everyday problems.
Joe: What is your favorite book that you didn’t write?
Jeff: That changes depending on when you ask me. But probably my all time favorite was The Liar’s Club by Mary Carr. It just spoke to my childhood. It was set in the same place I grew up in my early years, so it just resonated with me. I also love Chuck Palahnuik. Sometimes I like nonfiction. Really enjoyed Lawrence Wright’s book about Scientology: Getting Clear.
Joe: Who is your favorite author, other than yourself?
Jeff: See above, but once I was so struck by Cynthia Rylant it’s hard not to think of her when you ask your question.
Joe: Who are your favorite NBA players?
Jeff: Here I am going to fail you, Joe. I could pretend that I care about The Spurs because I live in San Antonio, but as life goes we focus only on what interests us, and I don’t follow basketball at all. If you do, there’s lots out there to read about it though.
Thanks again for the questions, Joe. I hope high school goes great for you.
A big thanks for Joe and Jeff for sharing their conversation with all of us. I love Joe’s subtle humor in his questions (“other than yourself”) and Jeff’s honesty in his answers. Be sure to swing by The Nerdy Book Club, where Jeff Anderson is today’s guest writer. When you’re done with that, be sure to head over to your local bookstore and grab a copy of Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth, out today!