A Brief Q&A!
What do you write about?
I grew up reading about magic, robots, dragons, and rocketships. I can write about real life if I want to, but the truth is I’d rather be sending my characters out to explore a world that only exists in my imagination.
My first novel series, Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve, is a mash-up of science-fiction, fantasy, and martial arts. There are ninjas who use spells to breathe fire or fight faster. Then there are secret agents who rely more on technology to enhance their skills. Plus, every book could benefit from having spin kicks in it.
Where did Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve come from?
I’m a middle school English teacher, which means that I have to teach grammar and vocabulary. This may surprise you, but not everyone likes grammar.
A few years ago, I started writing grammar warm-ups and vocabulary exercises that starred a 12-year-old ninja named Ninja Steve. As far as grammar goes, it was a big hit.
I couldn’t keep running a class on Ninja Steve alone, though. I knew that we needed variety and so another character was born: Agent D. He was the greatest secret agent ever, always foiling the plots of his nemesis, Agent R.
When I decided to write my novel, I knew that Agent D needed to be there. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed a character for girls to root for, too. And, so, BOOM! Agent Darcy was born.
What did you read as a kid?
I was lucky enough to be born into a family that loves reading. As far back as I can remember, my mother was always reading a novel, my father was always reading a newspaper.
They gave me piles of picture books, they let me have all kinds of Matt Christopher books, and they let me keep reading Goosebumps even though I had terrible nightmares.
One day I picked up The Hobbit, fell headlong into the worlds of fantasy and science fiction, and I’ve been living there ever since.
When did you figure out that you liked story writing?
In third grade, Mrs. Lorenz had us do a writer’s workshop nearly every week. The first story I wrote was called Mr. Spider and it was about a spider who realized that he hated the taste of flies. After that, I wrote Super Spider, which completely ripped off the Spider-Man creation story. I wrote seven or eight Super Spider adventures and now I’m wondering if they’re still around somewhere…
Who are your favorite authors?
Ray Bradbury is, without a doubt, my favorite author of all time. He was a man who understood the importance of holding onto the things you loved when you were a kid.
My favorite quote from him is:
“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
He wrote about time travel, space explorers, and monsters, and his imagination never ran dry. The Illustrated Man is one of the greatest short story collections ever written, filled with magic tattoos, doomed rocketship pilots, and wicked children. You should also know that Fahrenheit 451 wins my vote for the best novel ever written.
There are so many brilliant writers who have inspired me: Patrick Rothfuss wrote The Name of the Wind, which will blow your mind. Neil Gaiman is a master of fantasy. Try Coraline or Odd and the Frost Giants for a taste. M.T. Anderson’s Feed completely re-wrote my understanding of what YA science fiction could be. Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series. Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn.
I could go on and on. There are so many worlds out there to explore.