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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