Q: What made you want to write books for young people?
When I read a book, I’m looking for action, excitement, intensity, humor—but above all else, something new. For a kid, everything is new. That’s what I constantly seek in my own life, that novelty and newness. So, unsurprisingly, when I sit down to write what ends up coming out is that search for, and appreciation of, variety and possibility.
Q: What were some of your favorite books growing up? How did they influence your writing style?
I wasn’t a very good reader early on. I tended to like books with a lot of dialogue and minimal description. Paula Danziger’s hysterical books were particular favorites. But what really got me hooked was when I started reading Stephen King and Michael Crichton thrillers when I was 8 or 9. I devoured the scary stuff, and I see those books now as being gateways to larger universe. After that I was on a mission. I began reading science fiction classics by authors like Asimov and Heinlein, and eventually, I began gravitating toward better writers and stylists. Jack London was also huge for me, as were cartoonists Matt Groening and Gary Larson. I’m a constant and wide-ranging reader now, so I think the lesson to be learned from my underwhelming and somewhat random reading as a kid is simple: start anywhere.
Q: How did you develop the characters and plots for your new series Galaxy Games?
For the characters in Galaxy Games, I started by creating their world. They live in a somewhat distant future where humanity has solved many of its provincial and age-old problems, and have taken their first steps toward embracing a larger and more expansive existence in the stars. In this world, the average human is a somewhat better version than the average human of our day: a little braver, wiser, more optimistic. That in a nutshell is how I began to design the kids. They’re still kids of course, but they live in a world without many of the obstacles and shortsighted ideas kids today have to live with. In this way, the kids of Galaxy Games are given the opportunity to be better than they normally would, and to play a crucial role in bettering their own world. I think this is apt, because if we want our world to ever get better, then we will have to give our kids the freedom, guidance, and education to remake the world for the better themselves.