Bestselling author Gordon Korman visited with groups of students in third through eighth grade on Thursday, November 16. He shared with the boys about the unusual way he got his start writing books — during creative writing class in the seventh grade when his teacher gave them four months of free periods to write whatever they wanted. By the end of the year, he had written the manuscript for “This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall,” which he then sent off to Scholastic for publication, and it was available on bookshelves a year later. The rest is history.
“The boys were especially blown away by the fact that Gordon had his first book published when he was only in ninth grade!” said Katie Schmidt, Director of the Middle School iLab. “I could see a spark of excitement in some of their eyes as they realized that anything is possible.”
One hundred and two books later, Korman gave the students insight into what it’s like having his books translated into many languages (and some mishaps that ensued) and how he transitioned from writing about his own experiences when he was a child to having to “reinvent” the origin of his ideas as he has gotten older. “‘What if’ are the two most powerful words for writers,” he told the boys. “If you ever get writer’s block, just ask yourself: What are the what ifs of your story?”
“I loved the part when Mr. Korman went through the list of his books lost in transition,” said Harry B. in third grade. “My favorite was when ‘Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire’ was translated into French and became ‘Teller of Untruths Your Trousers Have Combusted.’ I couldn't stop laughing.”
He went on to share how he uses research to develop ideas and plots, how he observes his surroundings to find inspiration for characters (even while visiting Gilman!), and how he keeps an open mind when watching a TV show or movie that was made from one of his books.