Riffle Backstory: Q&A with Greg Leitich-Smith

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WHAT ARE SOME CURRENT MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS THAT YOU WISHED YOUR YOUNGER SELF COULD HAVE READ? You know, every year, there are always a slew of books I know I would've loved as a middle grade reader. Of books this year, I think that young middle grade me would pick Kathi Appelt's THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGARMAN SWAMP. It just has such a nice, quirky atmosphere and a lot of heart.

I think I also would've loved Holly Black's SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES.

Older middle grade me would've loved Megan Whalen Turner's THE THIEF (and the sequels), as well as Katy Moran's BLOODLINE and BLOODLINE RISING. All are richly drawn and thought-provoking.

GROWING UP, WHO DID YOU LOOK UP TO AS YOUR LITERARY HERO? Hmmm. Inasmuch as I never really investigated (or knew anything about) actual authors, I don't know that I ever had a "literary hero." But at various times as a young reader, I remember my favorite books being SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. SFR spoke to me because I'd heard stories from my parents about WWII (and growing up without electricity!), so the idea of "modern" folks losing modern amenities/technology really resonated. And LoTR was the first fantasy I ever read in which the evil actually seemed real and palpable.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Everything worth doing requires practice. And so do a lot of things that aren't worth doing, but are interesting anyway. So, practice. :-).

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOUR PROTAGONIST WALKED IN THE DOOR RIGHT NOW? "Please tell me you didn't bring a T.rex."

IF I COULD HAVE ANY SUPERNATURAL POWER IT WOULD BE... I would want Kyle Rayner's Green Lantern power ring, which I guess translates into having the power to convert your will power into tangible light constructs that do your will. Or something like that. :-). (And KR's, because his was the first not to have that ludicrous weakness vs. the color yellow. Or wood.).

IF I WERE A SUPERNATURAL CREATURE I WOULD BE... I'm going to pull out my LoTR geekdom here: a Dunadan (from the north). (Yes, I know elves get the press and immortality and all, but most of the time, when the elves are in charge, things go really really wrong). But the Dunedain actually do things, especially the ones who became the Rangers in the north....(and yes, they're supernatural because they were granted life spans beyond those of other humans, because of their service in the war against Morgoth. And the fact that Earandil sought out divine intercession therefor...I'm going to stop now.))

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