Friday, December 19, 2014

Author Interview with Chris Grabenstein


The DMS was lucky enough to interview Chris Grabenstein. Lizzy reviewed his middle grade book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn a little more about his story. So, without further ado... take it away, Chris!

 What inspired you to write Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library?
The library at P.S. 10 in  Brooklyn, NY. I went to the school to do an author visit. Even though it looked like a lot of other P.S. schools here in New York, they had the most spectacular, brand new, book-filled library. The librarian told me it was donated to the school by a very generous benefactor. So, on the subway ride home, I said to myself… "What if a very generous and somewhat loony benefactor donated a library to the town where he grew up?" That was the start. I’m always looking for a big "What If?"
How long did it take you to write Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library?
Two years! Longer than any book I have ever worked on. Since it had the word “library” in the title, we wanted to make sure it was as good as we could possibly make it. My editor and I did about eight major revisions along the way.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

I mostly remember reading MAD magazine and MAD books when I was in fifth and sixth grade. Also, my parents had a Complete Works of O. Henry book that I devoured. I think that’s where I developed my love for twist, turns, and surprise endings.
When you were growing up did you visit the library often? Kyle tends to prefer board games to the library, and we know you enjoyed playing board games with your brother. Did you have a favorite?  
Growing up in Signal Mountain, Tennessee we really didn’t have a library we could visit. I wish we did! Now that I visit schools on a regular basis, I see the librarians that I wish I had- they always know what books to recommend to kids. I needed that. In some ways, this book is a tribute to all the librarians out there helping make reading fun.

My favorite game growing up was probably Monopoly. (Get the orange properties, you’ll win every time!). As we got older, my brothers and I played RISK all the time…even on our college breaks.
Do you have a local library that you like to visit? If so, could you tell us a little bit about it? 
I like visiting all the libraries I get to visit on my trips around the country. I really don’t have a home library but the ones in Ohio, Illinois, California, and everywhere else I’ve been this year are incredible!
If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?
I love where I am right now! In New York City, where, if I need a character for a story, I can go walk around the block and bump into six of them. We’re close enough to Central Park that my dog Fred and I go walking and daydreaming there every day. And then there is my writing room where I can go anywhere I want (in my mind). So, I think I’ll just stay put. 


If you could befriend a character from one of your books, who would you befriend? Why?

Billy Gillfoyle- the hero of my book coming out in March 2015, THE ISLAND OF DR. LIBRIS. He is probably the protagonist closest to what I was like when I was twelve. Brimming with imagination and ideas, picked on by bullies, trying to solve the world’s problems with his wit.

Where did you get the inspiration for Kyle and Mr. Lemoncello? 

Kyle came from my memories of having two big brothers whom I could only “best” when we were playing board games. I started with that seed and watched him grow. Mr. Lemoncello came from looking in the mirror. He is an adult who never forgot what it was like to be a kid. He’s also extremely whacky.
  

Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it? 

 I’m working on a few. Just completed a sequel to ESCAPE called MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY OLYMPICS, which will come out in 2016. I’m working on more projects with James Patterson, including some sequels to I FUNNY, HOUSE OF ROBOTS, and TREASURE HUNTERS. And I’m noodling around on a brand new idea for my friends at Random House.

From left: Jessica Haight, Chris Grabenstein, Stephanie Robinson
We were excited to meet Chris Grabenstein at the 2014 UCONN Children's Book Fair! Stop by the post to find out more about this exciting book and its charismatic creator. :)











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40 comments:

  1. What a great interview. Thanks for doing and sharing it. I just loved Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and can't wait to read the sequel. LOL Mad Magazine was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, too.

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    1. Alex- So glad you enjoyed the interview and to hear you read and loved Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library! The sequel is sure to be awesome. :) ~L

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  2. Thanks for the interesting interview. I loved hearing about your inspirations, MAD, and the 2 years of writing and revising. I was lucky and had two great libraries in my home town. I adore libraries! Wishing you much success with your new release! :)

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    1. Lexa- Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Chris's story is definitely inspirational and interesting! How wonderful that you had two libraries in your home town. Wow! Libraries are the best! :) ~L

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  3. How exciting!!!! He's pretty high profile. You go! Now I really want to read this book. I've been hearing about it all year.

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    1. Stephanie- Thanks! We were so excited to interview Chris! I hope you get to read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library soon! :) ~L

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  4. Awesome interview indeed, sounds like a lot on the go. NY is a great place too.

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    1. Pat- So glad you enjoyed the interview! :) ~L

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  5. Thanks for interviewing me, guys! Love that MAD image you found. Sums up their irreverent spirit perfectly!

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    1. Chris- Thanks for stopping by! We were so excited to meet you and thrilled to interview you on our blog. MAD is so much fun! Wishing you all the best! ~Stephanie and Jess

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  6. I loved the library at the school I just visited. They had booths, like you'd find in a restaurant, with computers set up in one section. Tables and chairs for arts and crafts in another, of course aisles of books with comfy chairs in the corners to sit back and read, and an area for readings and guest speakers. It felt so incredibly inviting, like you could hang out there for hours.

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    1. Kelly- The school library you described sounds awesome! It sounds so inviting! What a great place for kids and readers of all ages. :) ~L

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  7. What a great interview. Thank you both.
    And hooray for libraries. Havens of peace, edifices to learning - and a great escape.

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    1. Elephant's Child- Thanks so much! We agree and love libraries too! They are places where dreams can grow! :) ~L and F

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  8. I love that the idea of this book was born when he was young. Libraries are such amazing places. You know what I would love to see, big cozy chairs with foot rests and tables so you could just relax all day.

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    1. Heidi- I love that the idea was born when Chris was young too! The library you described does sound very cozy. Yeah for libraries! :) ~L

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  9. This was a fun interview. I would like to see libraries have coffee shops like the few bookstores left have. Thanks for a chance to win this book. It's been on my radar for quite awhile.

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    1. Thanks, Rosi! The library in my town does have a coffee area and it is definitely nice. :) Good luck in the raffle! ~L

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  10. I've been wanting to read his books for awhile. I love libraries, and NYC is definitely inspirational. Great interview.

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    1. Medeia- If you love libraries then you will love this book! I hope you get to read it soon! :) ~L

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  11. Hi DMS - thank goodness for libraries and authors who can come up with names like Lemoncello .. and I'd love to learn more about the innards of the library ... some of the larger ones must be incredible to work in ..

    Cheers and Happy Christmas week - Hilary

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    1. Hilary- Libraries are fabulous! There are so many different kinds with all kinds of amazing features. If you get to read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library you will definitely want to visit that library! :) ~L

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  12. Without libraries, well I would not be the bookworm I am

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    1. Blodeuedd- Libraries have definitely helped foster my love for reading! :) ~L

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  13. I'm glad that it took so long so that he could make sure he got everything right. I always read Mad magazines at the doctor's office. Monopoly is the best, I always go for the orange too! lol I like that he's the most like the whacky adult. Nice interview!

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    1. Molly- The time spent developing this story was time well spent. Chris has such a fun personality and he is without a doubt in touch with his inner child. Glad you enjoyed the interview! :) ~L

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  14. Great interview! I bet you get a lot of inspiration living in New York City!

    And I think libraries are awesome. Every city should have one.

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    1. Sherry- So happy you enjoyed the interview! I agree with you that every city should have a library. :) ~L

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  15. Forgive this quick visit, family are on the way so I don’t have time to read any posts at the moment, but I will be back in the New Year. I just wanted to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, Barbara.

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    1. Barbara- We hope you have been having a blast with family and friends (based on your FB posts- it looks like you are). :) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ~Stephanie and Jess

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  16. It sounds marvelous! Great interview. :)

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    1. Thanks, Carrie! It is a wonderful book and imaginary library. :) ~L

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  17. I love libraries that have comfortable reading spaces. And maybe a library that had bookmarks laying around. That would be awesome.

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    1. Yun-A- I love libraries with cozy reading spaced too. Great idea about the bookmarks! :) ~L

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  18. Fantastic interview I love seeing how the author gets their ideas.

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    1. Kimba- I love learning about how authors get their ideas too! :) ~L

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  19. I LOVED MAD mag when I was a kid! Anyone who was into that is fine in my book.

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    1. Catherine- MAD is definitely an entertaining magazine! :) ~L

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  20. Great interview Jess!
    I whish you a happy and lovely Christmas!!
    xo

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    1. Gloria- Thanks! I hope you had a Merry Christmas! :) ~Jess

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