Thursday, April 4, 2013

7 Questions For: Author Tom Angleberger

Tom Angleberger also writes under the pen name Sam Riddleburger.

He is the bestselling author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, which won the 2010 E. B. White Read Aloud Award for middle readers, Darth Paper Strikes Back, and Horton Halfpott, which Kirkus dubbed “a romp from start to finish.” He lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, with his wife, author and illustrator Cece Bell.

And now Tom Angleberger faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Lizard Music
The Secret Garden
The Giant Jam Sandwich 

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?
Hardly any time writing. My "job" of being a writer is really about travelling around, running a website, answering emails and stuff like that. 

LOTS of time reading! I love to read! Right now I am in the middle of Splendors and Glooms! EEK! Don't tell me how it ends! 

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

Failure after failure after failure. Trying again and again and trying something new each time. It took 15 years from my first rejection letter to my first published book... and then that book flopped!!!!

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you? 
Born! I have Aspergers and I think it's a crucial part of my being a writer. My brain is wired differently. The OFF switch on words doesn't work. So I used to run my mouth all the time. When I finally learned to let some of those words come out on paper or a computer screen, I discovered that what had been a FLAW was actually my SuperPower!

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?
The moment when you see pieces coming together and you realize how they're going to fit. Its exciting AND a big relief!

Least favorite thing: revising. But it must be done! MUST! 

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)
When you're done, you're not done.Whatever you just wrote could be better.

There are mistakes, blunders, cliches and boring parts to cut. And there is SO much to polish and improve. Read it out loud and you'll instantly discover this to be true!
And then you need to let someone else read it and you need to let them be honest and you need to listen to them.

Often stuff is so clear in my head that I don't see the need to explain it fully in writing. Then someone else reads it and it makes no sense or -- even worse!-- they think I meant something else! 

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
Charles Dickens. He is a favorite writer, he directly inspired my book Horton Halfpott and he died before he finished his last book. I'd like to ask him how it was supposed to end!


  1. We are huge fans of your books around here. My boys love your Origami Yoda series, but I have to say my favorite book of yours was Horton Halfpott. I've both listened to it on CD and read it with my younger guy.

    I was fortunate enough to see you at the Decatur Book Festival last year. Looking forward to what you write next!

  2. Loved the interview. Tom's journey to publication is so inspiring and says a lot about the importance of perseverance.

  3. Though I am yet to read the Origami Yoda series, I love the sound of it and after reading a few pages (I think on Amazon) I am hooked big time.

  4. I love the Origami Yoda books! They're so much fun. But, Robert, now I'm curious about Tom's first book that flopped. Hard to believe. I'm thrilled that he didn't give up.


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