Interview: Greg Pincus on MG novel THE 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K. (Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic) & his book launch this Saturday
Photo: Rita Crayon Huang
His first novel, The 14 Fibs of Gregory K., is now available from Arthur A. Levine Books. You can attend the launch party in person or virtually this Saturday, October 19th (details near the end of this post).
This middle grade story is laugh-out-loud funny, sweet (especially the scrumptious descriptions of pie) but also full of heart and emotional truths. I especially recommend this book for young people who are torn between pursuing their own favorite hobbies/interests and that of the people around them. It’s a story about being true to yourself.
Some extra background: Greg (the author, not the main character) came up with the six-line, Fibonacci-series-based poems (Fibs) mentioned in the book back in 2006, and his Fibs post garnered 400+ comments.
In addition to being a novelist, Greg’s also a poet, screenwriter, volunteer elementary school librarian, and social media consultant. He is a blogger, writing about children’s literature and poetry at GottaBook and the social web at The Happy Accident. Through the wonders of social media, he’s sold poetry, helped himself land a book deal, ended up in The New York Times, The Washington Post, School Library Journal (multiple times), and many other interesting places… and also made friends and gotten free cookies on more than one occasion!
Where to find Greg:
Q. What was your publication process for THE 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K?
My path to publication was pretty typical: my blog went viral while talking about poetry based on the Fibonacci sequence, it got written about in The New York Times, and then Arthur Levine called me up and asked me to write a novel based on the kid who seemed to be the “author” of many of my poems and with the tone of my query letters (for many submissions rejected by him in the past).
There was no manuscript when the deal happened… potentially why the book is just appearing now in 2013 when the deal happened in 2006. Arthur and I communicated mostly by email, with notes coming on manuscripts from time to time. Again, with the unusual deal, we never had a firm publication date until, I guess I’d say, the book was ready.
Q. What was your writing process for THE 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K?
Arthur Levine with Greg’s bookNon-linear. Long. Usually caffeinated. Because there was no manuscript or even a full story idea when we set the deal, Arthur and I did some separate and joint brainstorming and then… I wrote a first draft. Which we completely threw out! That was a fine day. Oh, yes. Waiting for notes and then… back to square one. The thing is… it was the right call, and I knew it then, too. After that, I wrote a draft that I threw away without showing Arthur and then finally a draft that became the base of what the book is today. And while I say we threw everything away from that first draft, that’s not entirely true: there are a few actual lines that are the same, the basic family structure didn’t change and even hints of the basic plot remain intact.
The key for me in the whole process was accepting the freedom that Arthur gave me, listening thoroughly to the notes of all my readers, and then trusting myself with the story I wanted to tell. When I treated notes as prescriptions, I wrote poorly. When I got to the meaning behind them, the writing became smoother and progress easier. When I added coffee and a quiet writing space, well, better still!
Greg with a mug featuring the cover of The Late Bird his poetry collection.
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring children’s book writers?
If you’re going to be a writer, you gotta write. Yes, reading is good. But you gotta write. Yes, it’s important to hone your observational skills, and it’s wonderful to be able to see the world from different points of view. You need to work on your craft and understand how words work together. You want to be able to tell the story that only you can tell. And to do that… you gotta write. Then you have to re-write (which, of course, is writing). In between drafts, you might read and observe and think deeply. You might want to revisit books on craft or take classes or go to conferences. I know I do. Yet to finish a book? You have to write. Do it longhand or by typewriter or by dictation while you’re standing or sitting or jogging or on the train. But seriously… my one piece of advice would be to write.
Stalking Greg Pincus at a #kidlitchat tweetup at SCBWI-LA 2010
Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you’d like to share?
I’m working on a second novel with many of the same characters as The 14 Fibs of Gregory K, as well as (always!) writing poems. I have a few picture books I hope to complete, other novel ideas, and even one story that might draw me back to my screenwriting past. I will be out and about with my book – school visits, a launch party (the 19th of October, if that matters!), Skype visits, a conference or two – and once I have time again, I plan to hold some online social media classes, too. Heck, I’ll be everywhere, often without even leaving my office!
Q. So tell us about your upcoming book launch for 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K.
I’m excited to be doing my launch both in person AND live online simultaneously (Saturday, October 19th from 3-5:00 PM Pacific time). Flintridge Bookstore is hosting the launch, and Google+ is letting me broadcast live. You can find the stream at http://www.youtube.com/user/gregorykpincus/live and, if all works right, on my blog at http://gottabook.blogspot.com. I’ll post updates at my blog, too, so instructions will be there. Flintridge Books also has made it so you can buy my book on their site, and I’ll personalize it at the launch – there’s a place in the ordering to say who to sign it to and everything! I wish I could travel town to town and see friends, relatives and fans in person, of course, but in the interim I hope the live stream lets everyone be part of the fun. (Plus, yes, it satisfies my inner geek!) It’ll be interesting to see how it all works – relying on technology can be dicey, of course. And, I’m sorry to say, I won’t provide pie to the virtual guests. For that, you gotta show up!
“Fibonacci Poems Multiply on the Web After Blog’s Invitation” – The New York Times article about Greg in 2006
The 14 Fibs Of Gregory K: Greg Pincus – by Jen Robinson
The 14 Fibs Of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus – GuysLitWire review
For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.