Thursday, August 5, 2010

7 Questions For: Author Donna Gephart

Donna Gephart's new novel, How to Survive Middle School, garnered starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Click here to read my review. Her first book, As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award. Donna has fun speaking at schools, book festivals and conferences.

Visit her at

And now Donna Gephart must face the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Let me cheat and tell you my top three favorite authors: Jerry Spinelli, Christopher Paul Curtis and Louis Sachar. Add to that list two more favorites I recently discovered: Gary D. Schmidt and Rodman Philbrick. And I love that Gary Paulsen is writing short, funny books for kids now. Hey, where are the women on this list?

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

It depends on what's happening in my life. If I'm on deadline and deep into a novel, I write up to 35 hours a week or more. If it's summer break and the kids are home, it could be as few as five hours, if I'm lucky. I average about 18 hours a week writing, but when I'm not writing I'm doing the real work -- thinking! So that when I'm at the keyboard, my fingers fly fast and furiously.

I'm not much of a TV watcher, so I read a lot. I complete about 60 books a year, give or take.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

The path that led me to publication was the public library. It was my lifeline as a child (and still is). And boredom. At ten, I was bored out of my skull and wrote a short story for want of anything else to do. My mom loved the story, and I decided right then I would become a writer. I figured it would be easy and make me famous. Half a dozen unpublished novels later, I realized it wasn't easy. When I was fortunate enough to sell my first novel, I learned it wouldn't make me famous either. But I still loved it. After enough rejections to wallpaper a small kingdom, Tina Wexler took me on as a client. So far, we've sold three novels to Random House . . . with many more to come, I hope.

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

I couldn't be anything but a writer. I know. I've tried. I've sold shoes, cleaned dorm rooms, worked at a bakery, as a secretary, waitress, etc. Something about being a lonely child, a book nerd and a good listener and talker makes this the perfect career for me. I believe writing is journey, and we learn things and become better over time, if we continue to have a passion for it, practice regularly and read voraciously. I've found that attending (and later running) critique groups to be enormously helpful in my growth as a writer/reviser. And attending (now speaking at) conferences always provides that needed shot of information and inspiration.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

Even after twenty years, I still get excited to get up in the morning and work. I love being lost in the story world. But I get frustrated during non-writing periods. Sometimes, the mind needs to gather, not produce. And even though I know this, I sometimes get a bit neurotic about the process. Despite the inherent frustrations, challenges and rejections, there is nothing I'd rather wake up and do each day.

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)


Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Stephen King. Period. He's a regular, smart, creative guy and he tells a darned good story.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I see far too many people these days attacking Stephen King, I was glad to read your comment :)

  3. I agree. Nothing makes me more angry than an unpublished (or even published) writer who refuses to read Stephen King because they think he's low brow. "You want to sell books do you? Well, whatever you do, don't read the world's best-selling novelist!" I would all be over lunch with the King.


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