Four years ago a reading teacher named Beth Sloan got in touch with me about coming to the Oliver Wolcott Technical School in Torrington, CT to do an author visit. The school had chosen my book Monument 14 for their One Book – One School initiative. Would I come and give a lecture?
I said, “Of course!” Imagine my honor, to have a whole school reading one of my books!
Since then, word has spread, and I now visit 3-4 CT Tech High Schools each spring.
My favorite part of the day (okay, BESIDES taking pictures with students, which is really, incredibly fun) is when I tell them that they are already experts in premise.
I show them a bunch of iconic book covers and have them tell me what the book is about, just by looking at the cover. We analyze the font used, the images and the tag line, if there is one, to see how much about the premise we can discover.
“You already know so much about story,” I tell them.
My secret goal is to make them aware of their natural story sense, so that they will engage with the fictional narratives they take in (film, tv, novels, comic books, you tune videos, all of it) as CREATORS — not as consumers. I want to give them a look under the hood of story, so they can break it down.
My second secret goal (yes, I have two) is simply to show them that it’s possible to make a living as a creative. That authors really do exist and that they are basically just regular people. This is why I am always delighted to answer the questions, “Are you rich?” and “How much does an author make?” I usually answer by telling them what my advance for MONUMENT 14 was and what kind of car I drive: a 2008 Audi station wagon handed down to me by my mom three years ago.
Most of them are a little disappointed with my answers, but there are always a couple of them who perk up. I feel like I can see them thinking — “Wait, that’s not so glamorous. That’s actually … doable.”
Thank you, Beth Sloan, for inviting me so many years ago. It’s been a pleasure and an inspiration!
Here are some photos I took this week as I toured three CT Tech High Schools. Can you see how much fun I’m having connecting with these wonderful kids?
Now, why do the Tech School kids like Monument 14 so much, anyway?
Well, there are a couple reasons. 1. It has a male narrator, which is a big selling point for the guys. 2. It’s got a cool premise — kids hiding out in a superstore while civilizations collapses outside. 3. It starts at a breakneck pace and doesn’t let up for about a hundred pages.
If you haven’t read it yet, check out the starred review I got from Publishers Weekly:
Hey — thanks for reading my newsletter! You made it all the way to the end!
I’ve got a question for you. I’m getting to work on a TV script for Monument 14 in the weeks ahead. I’m watching tons of TV to prepare — please tell me: what’s your favorite show on TV right now? I’d love to know!