Hi everybody! Today is Addie’s big interview day! After receiving for review from Disney Hyperion A Monstertown Mystery called MUTANT MANTIS LUNCH LADIES, and loving it, she wanted to help me interview the children’s author and illustrator, Bruce Hale. Bruce is an award-winning author of over 40 children’s books and his new series looks set to impress both girls and boys of the third and fourth grade age, especially if they like books like the Goosebumps series.
Addie asked most all the questions and was very excited to read his answers so we hope you all are too. If you have kids reading middle readers, this is a quick, entertaining read sure to get a lot of laughs. Addie said it had her giggling and she finished it in no time flat! I mean she’ll NEVER see her lunch ladies the same again and will always staring at them out the corner of her eye! haha! Enjoy the interview!
Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! My 9 year old daughter and I really enjoyed your book! She thought it was hilarious. Congratulations on your success as a writer! Because she enjoyed it so much she helped me to come up with some questions.
Q: Where did you get the idea to make a mantis in to a mutant and how did you create them?
A: Back in the ‘50s, they had lots of scary movies about radiation mutating normal creatures like ants (Them!) and spiders (Beginning of the End) into monsters. I thought I’d like to pay tribute to those movies in my book. After some brainstorming and a bit of flipping through my Dorling Kindersley insect guide, I hit upon the praying mantis. I wanted them to be able to take on human form for extra creepiness, so I decided they’d be more than just mantises; they’d have both human and chameleon DNA in them.
Q: The Monstertown Mystery series is compared to Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. We love Goosebumps (and Stine is a Ohioan like us!). What do you like about the series that inspired your own?
A: I love the way Stine strikes a balance between humor and creepiness, as well as the way he plays with some horror traditions. And like me, he’s really into inspiring reluctant readers. Although I haven’t yet met him, I admire his work.
Q: How do you feel fourth graders connect with your books and why? (My daughter says by the way that the humor appeals to her – and would to her friends as well – both boys AND girls.)
A: I’m glad to hear your daughter say that both boys and girls would like my books, because I’m definitely aiming to appeal to both. For whatever reason, I remember very vividly what it was like to be a fourth grader, so maybe my readers are connecting with that. Also, I try to keep my stories funny and action-packed, two things that young readers appreciate.
Q: What the best part about getting to go out and speak in schools? How do you motivate and encourage reading?
A: There are so many wonderful benefits I get from speaking in schools. I love sharing my work with new readers, and I love to see the different ways they connect with it — from doing artwork to writing stories of their own. During my visits, I let my listeners know that I used to be a reluctant reader (I was much more into TV), but that when I found the right book, I became a reader. I remind them that if they’re not excited about reading, perhaps they haven’t found their right book yet.
Q: Why do you feel it’s important to continually engage young readers and how can we attract their attention to reading with all the electronics and over-saturation by parents into extra curriculars? (this was a mom question!!)
A: Reading is a foundation for success in life, so anything we can do to engage kids with books and make reading fun contributes to making happier, more successful kids. For those who are more electronically-minded, sometimes you almost have to force them to read, but if you can help them find a book that interests them, this becomes an easier task. Tailoring the book to the kid is the key, and with electronically-distracted kids, you’ve got to find books that really grab the reader and don’t let go. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy technology as much as the next guy – I just want kids to also spend time enjoying reading.
Q: You’ve written a lot of other books too of course and received an Edgar. What’s it like to have such a large back list? Do you still love writing kid’s book as much as when you first started?
A: It’s kind of amazing to me to look at my office bookshelf and see how much of it is filled by my own books – 44 and counting! I remember when publishers rejected every story I wrote, and I yearned to get published. Of course, having such a large backlist makes it tricky when I visit schools, since that’s far too many books to offer kids (to say nothing of autographing them all)!
I consider myself very fortunate to be making my living doing what I love, and I still love creating stories as much as I did when I first started out.
Q: What is your personal favorite type of monster and why?
A: My favorite has always been the werewolf. Maybe it’s because wolves are one of my favorite animals, or maybe it’s because I love that whole shapeshifter thing? I don’t know. I just know that werewolves rule.
Q: What are your plans for the future – both near and far?
A: For the near future, some hot tea and another scoop of ice cream. No, I jest (but not entirely). Right now, I’m working on a new middle-grade series called Class Pets, about all the adventures that classroom pets get into when the students are away. That comes out in 2018. I’m also starting to brainstorm the story I’ll work on after those are finished, and I’m about to begin a round of work-related travel that will take me from New York to Tokyo. For the longer term, I’m looking forward to writing and illustrating books for as long as I have stories to share.
Erin/Addie: Ice cream sounds good!! ha! We look forward to your future books. Thanks so very much for stopping by to see us and sharing your love of writing and reading. We will be on the lookout for the next book!
Bruce: It’s been a pleasure! Thanks for the fun questions.
Bruce Hale, Biography –
Raised by wolves just outside Los Angeles, Bruce Hale began his writing career while living in Tokyo, and continued it after moving to Hawaii. He’s too modest to mention his Nobel Peace Prize and his Olympic Gold Medal (in long-distance procrastination), so we won’t mention them. Before entering the world of children’s books, Bruce worked as a magazine editor, toymaker, gardener, actor, corporate lackey, and DJ.
From picture books to novels and graphic novels, Bruce has written and/or illustrated over 40 books for kids. His popular series include the award-winning Chet Gecko Mysteries, School For S.P.I.E.S., and Clark the Shark, among others.
When not writing or illustrating, Bruce loves to perform. He has appeared on stage, on television, and in an independent film called The Ride, where he played a surfer’s agent. Bruce is a popular speaker and storyteller for audiences of all ages, from the lunchroom to the boardroom. In 1998, he won a Fulbright Grant to teach storytelling and study folklore in Thailand. (No, he doesn’t speak much Thai, but he loves the food.)
A member of the National Speakers Association, Bruce has presented at colleges, universities, and conferences, both nationally and internationally. On top of that, he has visited schools and libraries from New York to New Delhi. (And yes, he loves to travel.)
These days, Bruce lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, his sweet mutt, Riley, and his massive collection of hats. When he’s not at the computer or drawing board, you can find him hiking, kickboxing, watching movies, or bicycling. Bruce also sings with a latin jazz band called Mezcal Martini.
Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies! (A Monstertown Mystery #2), Synopsis –
- Print Length: 208 pages
- Publisher: Disney Hyperion (March 7, 2017)
- Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Praise for Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies–
Along with trotting in a cast of exemplary diversity, Hale spins the scenario in such wild and hilarious directions that even the climactic release of whole garbage bags full of roaches in the crowded lunchroom isn’t the grossest thing that happens. –Kirkus
Addie, Guest Interviewer –
Addie is 9 years old and enjoys reading, writing, singing, dancing, art, baking, laughing, sports, gardening, animals, mysteries, and just about anything else – yep she has a lot of interests, especially when they’re fun.
However, she does take her school work seriously, and also strives for great grades. She really into reading stories of all kinds and interviewing authors for a behind-the-scenes look. She’s very happy to review books and wants to start her own blog soon.