Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Book Talk With Derek

If you’re like me, you think about your audience, both boys and girls. You probably agree, too, that nothing beats getting to know young readers. So, when I had the opportunity, recently, to talk about books with Derek, a thirteen-year-old guy going into the eighth grade, I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s how some of our conversation went:

Hey, Derek, thanks for taking the time to chat with me about books. Okay, so tell me, what kind of books do you most like to read?

I’m not a big fan of comic books. I’m more of a fan of suspense books.

Interesting. Why do you prefer suspense?

Because suspense books are not very predictable. What’s the point of reading if you know what’s going to happen? Or, if you can guess what’s going to happen?

I don’t love comic books because there are not a lot of details. Not enough details.

Do you have a favorite book?

My favorite book right now is Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

Yeah, I really liked that book, too. What did you like best about it?

It’s like. . . Hmmm, what did I like best about it? It’s unusual. I think that’s what I liked best.

Was there any particular part or scene of The Graveyard Book that you enjoyed the most?

No. I liked all of that book.

Are there any topics that you prefer to read about?

I can’t really say. Nothing in particular as long as I like the plot and the premise and the characters.

Liking the characters is important to me, too. What makes a character likeable to you?

As long as the characters are not annoying, they’re fine. I like to relate to the characters, the way everyone does, I guess.

That’s a great point. What are some things that you definitely don’t want to read about?

I’m not a big fan of biography books or realistic fiction. Or, romance stuff.

So, you prefer fantasy and science fiction?

Yeah, I guess that’s about right.

I don’t read a book to be in my life or someone’s life just like mine. I want to read a book that takes me to other places and into other lives and situations different than my own.

That makes perfect sense. Do you ever talk with your friends about books that you’ve read?

Not really. A lot of my friends don’t read what I do. Many of them only read what they have to read. They just don’t care about reading. I think the reason they don’t read is because they don’t want to put in the effort, which is too bad, but it’s their choice.

What advice would you give to someone writing books for boys?

I would say be creative and think about your story and try to make it really unusual and odd. That is what I like and what works out pretty well for me. I think that’s what other people like, too.

Do you prefer to read books about boys, with boys as main characters?

No. I don’t mind reading about girls. Either way, books about boys or books about girls are fine.

What do you think you might read next?

Probably The Hunger Games.

Good choice!

Thanks, Derek! Happy continued reading. And if you come upon a book that you like, let me know, okay?


  1. It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys.

    I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

    My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading.

    Keep up your good work.

    Max Elliot Anderson

  2. Love his advice to not make our characters annoying. How funny! Kids say it straight, don't they?

  3. Hi Max, I couldn't agree with you more about attracting reluctant readers to the world of reading. It kind of broke my heart when Derek talked about how his friends only read what they have to read. And, by the way, you have a great blog! Thanks!

    Tess, Yes, I cracked up when Derek suggested that writers try not to make the characters annoying! I love the way kids say whatever needs to be said, straight up!