Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I had an opportunity to make a couple school visits to classes being held at Hart High School and Golden Valley High School in Southern California. These were specially-created all-boy literacy classes aimed at making boys better readers and writers, and they had read Ghost Medicine as part of the course.
The boys were absolutely terrific, and asked some great questions about characters, plot elements, and how to interpret parts of the book. They were also very emphatic about how much they liked the book, which, of course, made me feel very good. The teacher had expected I would come in and read the book to them (they were right at the very end), and I did read a few paragraphs, but it was more important to me to turn the class over to the kids, so I could hear from them and talk to them about what they wanted to know.
I had a great time, and before I knew it, two hours had gone by and I was almost late to another appointment (I was only supposed to be there for one hour). We talked about guy things: the importance of having a "tribe" that works together -- in the case of the characters and conflicts in Ghost Medicine, and, in my case, my agent, editor, and publisher; why certain things need to be ambiguous, or not get completely answered (which is a major element in Ghost Medicine); we talked about dealing with fear, as it related to the book, and also as it related to my own getting over the fear of people reading my stuff; and, of course, we talked about boobs... but, heck, it was an all-boy class, so what do you expect?
Best of all, at the end I had one teacher tell me that he didn't know whether I'd noticed it or not, but there were boys lining up to talk to me about books they'd read and authors they liked (one of them showed me a book he loved written by Andy Griffeths -- fellow Feiwel and Friends author). And the teacher said to me that was what he'd been trying to do all year... get boys to talk about reading and get fired up about it.
I know we've got some future authors in that group.