On the Class of 2007 Website, you can find answers to the "ask a debut author" questions posted regularly. Click the link to read answers from all of the other 38 members. In the meantime, here are two answers I posted recently:
Where did the idea for TOBY WHEELER: 8TH GRADE BENCHWARMER come from?
As a senior in high school, I rode the bench on the varsity basketball team. I averaged less than a point a game and once forced a turnover without a single second ticking off the clock. Good times. For the book, I wanted to tell the story of a basketball season as seen through the eyes of a benchwarmer. Now, there are two species within the benchwarmer genus. Happy-to-be-here benchwarmers, which is what I was. And get-me-in-the-game now benchwarmers. Toby had to be the second kind if there was going to be any tension. What happens to him during the season, and the ideas for game situations, came less from personal experience than from imagination, reading, and surfing coaching websites. But if I hadn’t been the twelfth man (of twelve) on that basketball team, this book probably never would have happened.
What writing training have you had?
I have never taken a writing class. As a history major in college I learned to go an awfully long way on very little fact. This skill is very important if you want to be a novelist. I also rely heavily on other books in the most honest way I know how. What I mean is, reading stacks and stacks of other middle-grade and young-adult books has given me a sense of what I like, what I don’t like, and where I think I fit in. And, yes, I am terrified I will brain-pocket an idea that doesn’t belong to me and pass it off as my own. That’s why I cease reading during the writing process. But the most important training is experience. In order for fiction to come out, something has to go in. That some something is experience. That’s why you see author bios like So-and-so has been a teacher, a bartender, a navy seal, an arctic explorer, and an understudy for several members of the Culkin family . We aren’t bragging or trying to be clever. We just want you to know that we have the real-life experience to back-up all the stuff you just read in our books. So, that’s my training: reading and experience.