Craft, Career & Cheer: David Lubar

Learn about David Lubar.

What do you love most about your creative life? Why?

I love solving problems. And, really, that’s the main job of a fiction writer. We solve our characters’ problems.

We have the added pleasure of giving them the problems in the first place.

What is the one craft book that you refer to again and again? Why?

The Art of Answering Interview Questions by Askya Qanda.

How do you psyche yourself up to write and to keep writing?

I don’t need to psyche myself up. I love writing.

So far, what’s the most fun you’ve ever had working on a book? Why?

I’ve been walking around with a giddy grin ever since starting my new series, Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie (Starscape, 2009).

I get to write sentences such as, “Even though I don’t feel pain, I didn’t want to give birth to a pile of chicken wings,” and do dreadful things with defibrillators.

How do you define artistic success?

I write the books I want to write, and I’ve found an audience. I’m not stuck in a rut, writing the same sort of thing all the time.

(I’ve always seen Bruce Coville as a role model. He writes everything.)

I’ve written horror, humor, real life, science fiction, fantasy, YA novels, chapter books, and short stories. As for success, I can make my living writing. I get lots of positive feedback from kids, teachers, and librarians.

You can always look a couple rungs up the ladder. It’s easy to fall into the trap of envying someone who just won a big award or got a movie deal. But I’m sitting in my office in sweat-shorts and a T-shirt, listening to a nice CD and answering questions that will appear on a popular blog.

If I want to take a break and play a video game or go for a walk, there’s no boss to tell me what to do. I have eight books scheduled to come out in the next four years. Really, I have no reason and no right to complain or to want more than I have.

What do you love most about being an author? Why?

I love making something out of nothing. I love the infinite possibilities of the unwritten book. Paradoxically, once the path is set, I love paring those possibilities into a story that seems, in the end, both inevitable and surprising. And I love answering interview questions like this one.

How do you reach out to teachers and librarians?

First, I have to extricate myself from their hugs. Having accomplished that, I try to speak at lots of conferences. I’m fortunate to have a publisher that takes me to plenty of national events. I’m also fortunate to be invited to speak at lots of state conferences.

How do you approach the task of connecting your books to young readers?

Nails are far too painful, and even staples draw more blood than I’d like, so I’ve settled for string or those “Live Strong” yellow wristbands.

How have you come to thrive in such a competitive, unpredictable industry?

By some stroke of luck, my interests mesh pretty well with those of the typical sixth or seventh grader.

So far, what has been the highlight of your professional career? Why?

A couple things come to mind. The New Jersey branch of NCTE gave me the first Muriel Becker Literary Award. She was an amazing woman and an important scholar in the science fiction world. As a Jersey boy, that was especially thrilling.

Speaking of New Jersey, another highlight was being asked by the NJ Educational Media Association to give the keynote at their conference many years ago. I’ve given tons of talks since then, but this really felt like I was coming home.

How do you define professional success?

Years ago, I told myself, “If I could make my living writing short stories, I’d be happy.” I really love stories.

Much to my amazement, I actually make a good part of my living from the Weenies collections. The fourth one, The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies (Starscape, 2009), is already in a third hardcover printing.

Everyone in the industry will tell you that stories don’t sell, but I seem to have found an exception to that rule and a loyal readership.

In your own words, could you tell us about your latest book?

My Rotten Life (Starscape, 2009) tells how Nathan Abercrombie becomes a zombie after getting splashed with an experimental formula. Throughout the first book, he and his friends attempt to find a cure.

If I may boast a tiny bit, I have to say that the book has the finest ending I’ve ever written.

What can your fans look forward to next?

Book two, Dead Guy Spy comes out in January. And, after several more books in this series, I’ll be working on a fifth story collection. Also, with luck, some awesome blogger will ask me for another interview. A guy can only hope….

Cynsational Notes

The Craft, Career & Cheer series features conversations with children’s-YA book creators about positive aspects of their creative and professional lives.