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Friday, March 23, 2012

(M MG M) Interview- Dan Gutman

I want to thank Dan Gutman for being a part of the March MG Madness and for stopping by to answer a few of my questions. Be sure to check out my review to learn more about Dan's MG book The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable, a NY Times Bestseller!

Q. What three words best describe your MG series The Genius Files? 
Mystery!  Danger!  Pez!

Q. In one sentence, tell readers why they should read this series…c’mon, really sell it! 
A pair of twins named Coke and Pepsi McDonald are traveling cross-country in an RV with their parents while a group of eccentric lunatics are trying to kill them.
Q. Now, using as many sentences as you’d like, could you tell us a bit more about The Genius Files series?
There are a few other things in the story that readers may find interesting.  First, the twins' mother runs a popular web site called "Amazing But True," so every hundred miles or so they have to stop off at some weird museum, such as The Pez Museum, The Yo Yo Museum, The Spam Museum, and The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices.  These are all real places, by the way.  I very carefully plotted the route across the country using Google Maps.  Also, every few days, the twins receive a secret message that they have to decipher.  I hid some of these messages in the margins of the books, so readers could try to solve them as they read the story. 
Q. Why do you think (or hope) readers will love your characters Coke and Pepsi?
Because they're ordinary kids who are caught in an extraordinary situation. Actually, that's the one thing that ties together all of my books.  A kid runs for president of the United States ("The Kid Who Ran for President").  A kid gets the chance to sink a foul shot and win a million dollars ("The Million Dollar Shot").  A kid finds the most valuable baseball card in the world and realizes he has the power to travel through time using baseball cards ("Honus & Me"). I figure these are the kinds of situations that regular kids can fantasize about.
Q. Why Middle Grade Fiction…why did you choose to write MG fiction and what do you love best about reading and writing MG?
I don't really think in terms of MG or YA or any other categories.  And I never considered a "target audience" for my books. That never even occurred to me, and I had no idea what MG meant until after I started writing it.  I just write what feels natural to me, and it seems to appeal to kids who are in 3rd through 6th grade.
Q. Why do you think MG appeals to such a wide audience, from very young readers to adults like you and I?
Hey, speak for yourself.  I have the brain of a ten-year-old.
But seriously, I think that soon after kids learn how to read, they want to read "up."  They want to challenge themselves and feel like a big kid.  So they want to read about characters who are slightly older than they are.  My wife once told me that Seventeen Magazine is for fifteen year olds, and that once she got to be seventeen, she felt that she was too old for Seventeen. 
Kids who are 11-13 years old like to read about kids who are like themselves, so they naturally read MG books.  Teenagers, like my 16 year old daughter, like to read adult books (if they read at all) because it makes them feel grown up. And a lot of adults, who are busy and stressed out, like to read a well-written story that they can knock off in an evening or two.  So MG books appeal to a large percentage of the population. 
Q. What’s your current favorite MG book? Your favorite MG book of all time?
Can I be perfectly honest with you?  I hardly ever read fiction of any sort. When I read for pleasure, I read non-fiction.  The two most recent books I read were "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, and Keith Richards' autobiography. But if I had to pick a MG favorite, I guess I would pick "The Invention of Hugo Cabret."  If that doesn't qualify as MG, then "Hatchet."
Q. If you could switch places with any MG character from any book, who would it be?
Artemis Fowl, I guess. 
Q. Who’s your favorite MG villain…who do you just love to hate or hate to love?
See above.  Bad guys, by the way, are lots of fun to write.  I have put a lot of villains in my stories, such as Mr. Finkle in "The Million Dollar Shot" and Dr. Warsaw in "The Genius Files."
 Q. If you were to create/bake a Genius Files inspired cupcake, what flavor would it be or what would it taste like, and what would you call your tasty masterpiece? 
Well, first of all, there would be a 50-50 chance that it would be poisoned. So you would be taking your life in your hands by eating it.  But it would be the best tasting cupcake in the world, so you would be really tempted to eat it even though you knew it could kill you.  I guess I'd call it "Cupcake Roulette."

Be sure to stop by the March MG Madness post and enter the month long giveaway for your chance to win a box of MG books plus signed swag, including swag from Dan Gutman! You have the chance to earn extra entries by answering a question whose answer can be found in the interview above!

Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Purchase: Amazon / Book Dep.
The author of over 80 books in a little over a decade of writing, Dan Gutman has written on topics from computers to baseball. Beginning his freelance career as a nonfiction author dealing mostly with sports for adults and young readers, Gutman has concentrated on juvenile fiction since 1995. His most popular titles include the time-travel sports book Honus and Me and its sequels, and a clutch of baseball books, including The Green Monster from Left Field. From hopeful and very youthful presidential candidates to stunt men, nothing is off limits in Gutman's fertile imagination. As he noted on his author Web site, since writing his first novel, They Came from Centerfield, in 1994, he has been hooked on fiction. "It was fun to write, kids loved it, and I discovered how incredibly rewarding it is to take a blank page and turn it into a WORLD."  


DMS said...

Great interview! It was fun to learn more about this author. I agree that writing the bad characters is a lot of fun! ~ Jess

Amy said...

Great interview! That cupcake sounds really awesome. I would totally be daring enough to try it. I have no self control when it comes to consuming cupcakes lol!!