Sunday, July 10, 2011

3 Tommy Greenwald on the Writing of Charlie Joe Jackson

Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader every born. He does whatever it takes to get out of reading, and so far, it’s worked out really well. But one day in middle school he gets into trouble, and finds his impressive record is on the line. Will he push his luck and do whatever it takes to get out of reading, or will he finally bite the bullet and… gasp… read a book??!?

Do you know anyone like Charlie Joe Jackson? Have a reluctant reader on your own hands? Check out the interview below with Tommy Greenwald, author of CHARLIE JOE JACKSON's GUIDE TO NOT READING. And leave a comment with a way to reach you for a chance to win the book. (US and Canadian entries only.) Want more information? Catch Tommy on his website.

The book will be published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan on July 5, 2011, and be available for pre-order on April 5, 2011.

Q. What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

A. Finding the time to write it between my job and my family and my love of television.


Q. What made you want to write it and kept you going?

A. My own kids - Charlie, Joe and Jack -- hated to read growing up. I wanted to write a book for kids like them, reluctant readers who might actually glance at it and think, "okay, I'll try it. I'll probably hate it, but i'll try it."


Q. How long did you work on it?

A. The character of Charlie Joe Jackson popped into my head in September 2009, and the publication date is July 5, 2011. The first draft took about three months.


Q. How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?

A. Well, my agent story tends to make people want to throw household appliances at me -- I didn't have to query at all, since my childhood friend Michele Rubin is a wonderful agent at Writer's House and she agreed to take me on (I think i'm her first kidlit client). We submitted the book to about five editors. I got a few outright rejections, while some editors asked for revisions. Nan Mercado at Roaring Brook agreed to buy first and ask for revisions later. She's just an amazing editor and person. I got extremely lucky.


Q. What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

A. That's a tough one. I think everyone works differently, and my method is extremely unorthodox; I would never suggest that other people write on a hot commuter train that's so crowded you can't move your arms to type properly, while constantly feeding your addiction to email on the iphone. But for some reason that works for me. I will say that my topic was something that was very personal to me - trying to write a book that my own reluctant reader children would consider reading - and i think that really helped me as a writer. It became as much a mission as a book. Other than that, I'd say simply that if you write to entertain yourself, chances are others will be entertained as well.


Q. What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

A. I think most people who have the determination and discipline to actually write and finish a book, have the capacity to stress out at a very high level. I know i do. In publishing, there's always the next thing to worry about: will i finish the book, will an editor buy the book, will any actual people buy the book, will barnes and noble carry the book, if so how many will they take, will i like the cover, will i like the illustrations, will my next book be as good as this book... meanwhile, my first book isn't even out yet! i have to keep telling myself to relax and enjoy this amazing ride! but sometimes i forget to take my own advice.


  1. Love this book! I had so much fun reading it!

  2. LOL, the throwing of household appliances. No queries at all! How fun. ;o) Thanks for the interview!

  3. Congrats on your book release! And--loved the interview and insight into your process (and determination to get Charlie into our hands so we can pass him along to kids). As an aspiring kid book author I will not throw a kitchen appliance at you but propose a toast (get it? toast? har har) to having an easier ride than most on the agent/publisher search than most--brings me back to it meaning we get to share your book all the sooner. Cheers, Deb


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