Gordon Korman: Author Q&A
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
Author Q&A from The Stacks
Q: Why did you write this book and why did you name it DIVE?
A: DIVE fit perfectly because it’s about kids who scuba dive who discover the shipwreck of a 17th century ship carrying more than a billion dollars worth of gold. I also toyed with the idea of calling it “Reef” or “Treasure,” but I stuck with DIVE because it’s such a great action word.
Q: What is it like being a book writer? Do you enjoy your job being an author and writing a book? How did you think of your first adventure book?
A: I love my job. The way I see it, I get paid for making things up – something I used to do for free. My first adventure series was ISLAND. I had always written funny books before that, but I wanted to try something more serious. As a writer, you have to vary your style to keep it interesting for yourself. If you’re bored writing, it won’t be interesting for anybody else to read. I’d always enjoyed good old-fashioned kid-versus-nature survival stories, so ISLAND was a natural.
Q: When did you start writing books for elementary aged children? When you write books why do you pick such young characters with such great adventures?
A: I wrote my first book, THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING AT MACDONALD HALL, when I was in 7th grade. It was a language arts project – we had an entire semester to work on whatever we wanted. It was published when I was in 9th grade.
I try to make my characters funny and/or exciting because writing a novel is almost like living with those characters for a few months. I certainly wouldn’t want to spend so much time hanging out with boring characters – and I don’t think anybody would enjoy reading about them.
Q: Why did you decide to write No More Dead Dogs? Where do you get your ideas? When I try to write a book I'm dumbfounded.
A: Did you ever notice that whenever you read a classic novel about a dog, the dog always dies? That’s where NO MORE DEAD DOGS started. I wanted to mess around with that idea, so I created a cast of characters involved in a school play based on a fictional dead dog novel.
Q: I was at your assembly in Farmingdale Public Schools - the Book Parade 2003. I was wondering what is your favorite book series besides your own???
A: My all-time favorite book is THE HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams.
Q: How many publishers did you have to send your book to, to get it published?
A: I was lucky. Scholastic was the first company I contacted. I knew about them because I was the class monitor for the Arrow Book Orders. My first publisher was Scholastic Canada, because that’s where I grew up. I’ve been with some branch of Scholastic for more than 25 years now. I also publish with Hyperion.
Q: Which one of the books you have written is your favorite? What was your favorite book when you were thirteen? When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
A: SON OF THE MOB is my current favorite of all of my books. As a kid, I was a huge fan of the “Great Brain” series.
I guess I knew writing was the career for me in my senior year in high school. By then I had finished four books, and was working on a fifth.
Q: In the Everest and Island books, it seemed like Luke and Dominic were your favorite characters. Am I right? Do they resemble you at all? Which one of the characters is your absolute favorite? Which one resembles you the most?
A: Nice call! Although J.J. was really starting to grow on me by the end of ISLAND #3. They don’t really resemble me, but I do greatly admire them. And my heart went out to Luke, who – let’s face it – was completely innocent, and didn’t belong on that boat trip in the first place.
If I had to pick an absolute favorite, I’d have to go with Dominic. Something unplanned happened with Dominic when I was writing EVEREST. He came alive in ways I never could have imagined.
As for me, I’m probably a cross between Kaz from DIVE and Ian from ISLAND.
Q: Why did you have to make Bryn and her sleepwalking condition happen? When I was reading your first book I was kinda mad but now I've got over it and I'm starting to like Sammi. You and Bruce Coville are my favorite authors in the world. But the whole point of this Question is why did you wash out Bryn?
A: My goal in EVEREST #1 was to make the final team as unpredictable as possible. So it was always in the plan for the top male and female candidates, Chris Alexis and Bryn Fiedler, not to make it. The sleepwalking was just to add a little mystery.
By the way, Bruce Coville is a friend of mine. He’ll be happy to know you’re a fan.
Q: In Summit, it says that none of the teammates, have visited anywhere but America, but I thought Sammi went to the Rockies, with Caleb?
A: Wow! You’ve got a great eye for detail! But if you look at it again, you’ll see that Sammi planned to go cliff-jumping with Caleb in the Canadian Rockies when she thought she’d washed out of SummitQuest. Once she was back on the team, that plan was off.
Q: Were you ever able to climb a mountain, or get stranded on a deserted island? Why did you decide to write Everest? Did you climb Everest or something?
A: No, none of the trilogies are based on personal experience. I’m not a scuba diver either. In each of ISLAND, EVEREST, and DIVE, I was able to replace the experience with research. At my local library, they always know what I’m working on based on the research books I check out.
Q: Dominic Alexis is my favorite character. Is he gonna be in any other books?
A: I would love to write a sequel to EVEREST, although there’s nothing planned so far. How about this: Cap Cicero disappears on an expedition, and Dominic reassembles the team to try to find out what happened to him.
Q: When will DIVE come out and who are the main characters?
A: DIVE will be in stores this summer. The main characters are Bobby Kaczinski (nickname: Kaz), Star Ling, Adriana Ballantyne, and Dante Lewis. The series also features the crew of a 17th century pirate ship, and an 18-foot tiger shark named Clarence.
To learn more about the characters in DIVE, click here.
Q: Hi, I don't like many book's but I LOVED the trilogy Island. I think that you should write more books with the same six kids. What do you think? Are you going to make more books about Island?
A: I don’t have plans for more ISLAND books for this reason: the kids been rescued already. What else can happen to them? Any ideas? I’d love to see them.
I’m glad you enjoyed the six-kid setup. EVEREST and DIVE both feature only four main characters. I’d be interested to hear why you prefer the larger cast.
Q: Are the kids in your Everest books fiction or non-fiction? I know the facts about Everest and some of the previous climbers are true -- but what about these kids? Did they really attempt to climb Everest or is this just a wild notion? Also: Is your Island series based on true information?
A: No, the four kids on the SummitQuest team are pure fiction. The current record for the youngest conquest of EVEREST belongs to a sixteen-year-old Sherpa boy. I don’t believe any western teenagers have ever summited, although at least one has made it to Camp Four.
Similarly, ISLAND is fictional, although parts of it are rooted in fact. There is a small Micronesian island called Tinian, which held the airbase from which the U.S. dropped the two atomic bombs that ended World War Two.
In DIVE, the kids are fictional, but the various types of diving they do – scuba, underwater habitat, deep sea submersible, extreme mixed-gas, and helmet saturation diving – are all based on fact.
Q: Hi I like reading your books they're very gooooood well I want to ask you if your going to make new books. Tips: make a new adventure book that everyone will want to read, a mystery book...well bye
A: Thanks! Along with DIVE, my newest novel is called MAXX COMEDY: THE FUNNIEST KID IN AMERICA. It’s about a 6th grader who is a professional stand-up comedian. It should be in stores right now.
Q: What is your next book after DIVE?
A: After DIVE and MAXX comes a young adult novel called JAKE, REINVENTED. It will be published this fall.
Q: Dear Mr Korman -- I have this thing about penguins. I was wondering if you plan to write a series taking place in the antartic and have you ever met a penguin you didn't like?
A: Hey, you never know. There’s certainly plenty of adventure to be had down there, and no, I’ve never met a penguin I didn’t like.
Q: Do you read Harry Potter?
A: I’ve read all four Harry Potter books, and I’m looking forward to #5.
Q: Why didn't you connect the Everest mountain on the three covers like you did on the Island books?
A: Good question. Actually, we tried. The design people couldn’t make it look good because the mountain wasn’t the right shape.
Q: Hi! Mr. Gordon sir but I have a school project were I have to interview an author can you help me out?
A: Sure. You can contact me through my website, www.gordonkorman.com.