Ever wondered why pigeons always poop in the park? Or why you should be nice to your math teacher? Award-winning children's author David Lubar serves up horrifying answers to these questions and more in his just-released The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, a follow-up to In the Land of the Lawn Weenies and Invasion of the Road Weenies. These witty, exciting, and hilarious books have been wildly popular--to the point that the publisher, Starscape, had a publicist dress up as a weenie at a library conference a few years back (see photo below, of Lubar posing with said publicist/weenie).
The hard-working Lubar has been doing events around the country, and we caught up with him long enough to ask a few questions about kids and his books.
Amazon.com: What're some of the best experiences you've had talking to kids at various events?
David Lubar: Basically, it’s an amazing experience to meet a group of kids who have read my books and are excited about them. I was never one of the cool kids in school, so it is somewhat surreal to be greeted this way. The fat kid who was really bad at sports, not much better at socializing, and rarely invited anywhere now generates excitement when he walk into an auditorium I think one of my absolute favorite moments was when a young lady in sixth grade held up a copy of Hidden Talents and said, “This book is da bomb.” I'm fairly certain that was a compliment. Earlier this year, I got to give the keynote at the annual conference for Mayor Daley's Book Club in Chicago. I spoke to 800 high school students who cared enough about reading to get up very early on a Saturday morning. I still might not be cool, but that day, and that group of kids, was definitely way cool.
Amazon.com: Do you learn anything from talking to them?
David Lubar: Yeah. There’s no better way to learn whether an anecdote is interesting than to tell it to an auditorium crammed full of seventh graders. Especially after lunch on the day before a vacation. The middle school arena teaches you the necessity of holding the audience’s interest, which is a skill that translates well onto paper. During question-and-answer, and through casual conversations, I also learn what parts of my stories and books they enjoyed and what parts weren’t as clear as I had believed. Kids are not shy about letting you know when something doesn’t work. This is as it should be. Above all, I’ve learned that reading is still alive and thriving in our schools and that books are here to stay.
Amazon.com: How has your writing changed since your first book?
David Lubar: I’d love to offer some major technique I've learned about narrative structure, or recount some great revelation about the role of epiphanies as they relate to unreliable narrators, but the change has come through hundreds of small lessons. I've been studying writing for more than 30 years, and I continue to learn and improve...I know I've gotten better at description, which is something I tend to avoid as much as possible. I think my ability to weave subplots through a novel has improved. I've kept the advice of Robert McKee (Story) in mind when it comes to structuring scenes, along with the advice of Orson Scott Card (Character and Viewpoint) on a number of topics, topping it off with the wisdom found in four shelves filled with writing books. Though I have to admit that I'm far from the perfect student. I can get sidetracked by ideas that aren't central to the story, or introduce more characters than necessary. And I still tend to overwrite my openings. (Though I now have the discipline to go at them with a razor.)
For more information on Lubar's books, visit his website. --Jeff