Alan Garinger is the author of Alone, Torch in the Darkness, Water Monsters, and the Jeremiah Stokely series. His books have won multiple awards including the Dorothy Hamilton Award and the Young Hoosier Reader Award of the Indiana Library Federation. His educational laurels include Indiana Outstanding Young Educator, Indiana Outstanding Community Educator, an Indiana State Teachers Association award for Exemplary Inner-city Programs, and appointment to the Indiana Literacy Council. Before entering the field of children’s literature, Garinger wrote all or part of 70 nationally broadcast educational TV programs, 15 books, dozens of magazine articles, and 16 computer courseware programs. I've met Mr. Garinger and his knowledge of the middle-grade novels is unmatched.
And now Alan Garinger faces the 7 Questions:
Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
My all time favorite book is Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Since I now read mostly books for young readers, I have to include Holes by Louis Sachar and Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt.
Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?
If I'm into a project, I plan to spend four hours a day doing "writing stuff." That doesn't necessarily mean just composing. It's research, making contacts, planning out troublesome scenes, etc. I am, however much effected by the goal gradient. The closer I get to the end, the harder (more) I work. I've spent many fourteen hour days in front of a screen. I generally read myself to sleep every night.
Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?
I'd like to tell you that it was all planned out but that's not true. What is laughingly called "my writing career" has been more like life in a pinball machine than anything else. If becoming a professional means you get paid for it, my first professional job was writing the copy for a cartoon strip. Since then I've written everything from tv to political speeches, from books to matchbook covers, from computer programs to ad copy, from scholarly stuff to menus.
Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?
The longer I think about this kind of question the less affection I have for that thing we call "talent." For me the whole experience, especially since I went full-time in 1984, is hacking it out. It has been getting an idea and staying with it until something happens to it.
So I guess writers are born if tenacity is part of what they're born with. I tried to follow the plan that conventional wisdom suggests. Start with non-fiction, build a resume, make contacts and do networking, do some magazine work, write some things in your academic field, establish a presence, etc. It just didn't work out that way. Almost everything I've done happened by fluke rather than plan.
Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?
Without question it's the research. I like that better than the writing and infinitely better than the publishing.
Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)
Everything you write is important whether it is published or not. I recommend going over things you have written and look for spin-off possibilities. At least three of my books resulted from having studied things that I had done before.
Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
No question about this. It would have to be Thoreau.
Actual Interview Date: 8/15/2009