New York Times Bestselling Author Visits Forrestdale

It was all about learning the creative process that spurs a successful writer when New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman visited sixth and seventh graders at Forrestdale School in Rumson recently.

The Forrestdale students and teachers are very familiar with Korman’s popular works for children and young adults, as his book Schooled is part of the sixth grade reading curriculum and No More Dead Dogs is on the summer reading list.

Korman was just 13 when his first book, the result of a seventh grade English class assignment, was published after an editor at Scholastic was impressed by his manuscript.

“I was the student who collected the Scholastic book orders for my class, and I included my manuscript in the envelope when I mailed it,” he said at his morning assembly presentation on May 13. “After my first book was published, I wrote another manuscript partly to prove that I could do it again.

“After my second book was published, writing became a summer job, and then a part-time job, and then a full-time job.”

The year 2016 marks Korman’s 40th as a published writer. His 80-plus titles include Slacker, Liar, Liar Pants on Fire, Ungifted, and the popular Swindle series, as well as a series set aboard the ill-fated Titanic. More than 17.5 million copies of his books, many translated into other languages, are currently circulating worldwide.

The Forrestdale sixth and seventh graders sported tie-dyed clothing for the assembly in homage to the character of Capricorn “Cap” Anderson in Schooled, who Korman described as “a 13-year-old hippie who is also sort of a hermit.”

Speaking to his success as an author through the years, Korman told the excited and attentive crowd that all stories “are pretty much based on the question ‘What if?’

“This applies to real-life stories as well as fiction,” he said. “Think about this: ‘What if an ocean liner known as unsinkable struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage?’

“Whenever you experience a writer’s block, think about the ‘what if’s’ of your story.”

Norman read aloud from his newest book Slacker;  and he revealed plot details from his current project, the third and final installment in his Mastermind series.

He encouraged the students to perform research, become keen observers, and choose topics carefully to improve their own writing. And Korman noted that while brainstorming is a very useful process, “you will most likely come up with 20 bad ideas before you get the good one.

“You never know where a great idea is going to come from, and a lot of mine come from the ‘did you ever notice’ moments in my life,” he said. “For example, No More Dead Dogs resulted from my observation that in most books about dogs written for young readers, the dog ends up dying. Channel your inner stand-up comedian, and see where it leads you.”

Korman’s day-long visit, which was sponsored by the Rumson PTO, included lunch with the author for students chosen in classroom raffles as well as opportunities for photos with Korman and book signings.

— Edited press release from Rumson School District

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management