Author interview:

READ  who is this???

This week I am reading the Homework Machine (again) by Dan Gutman (the guy in the picture).

When did you decide to be an author?

I was a psychology major in college, and planned to become a psychologist. But after two years of graduate school, I decided that was not for me. So I decided to move to New York and become a starving writer. And that’s what I did. That’s the short version. Anybody who wants the longer version can go to my web site ( and click ABOUT DAN.

· What was your first piece published?

When I was in college at Rutgers, I wrote an article that appeared in the school newspaper. I didn’t work on the paper, but I just submitted something and they published it. It was a quiz to help people figure out how cool they were.

· What character is most like you?

None of them! I’m a boring middle aged guy who sits around the house looking at a computer screen most of the day. I like to write about kids who run for president of the United States, kids who get the chance to take one shot and win a million dollars, or kids who find the most valuable baseball card in the world and discover they can use it to travel through time.

· What was the first story you wrote as a child?

I never wrote any stories as a child. I didn’t like to read very much, and it didn’t occur to me to start writing until much later.

· Do you have any advice for anyone writing a book?

Yes, read my new book “My Weird Writing Tips”

· Who is your favorite author?

I have lots–Brian Selznick, Gary Paulsen, Gordon Korman, David Lubar, Mary Roach, Kurt Vonnegut, Hemingway, I could go on.

· What technique do use write (make it up as you go, plan it)?

I’m a planner. I carefully outline my stories on index cards in advance. So before I write the first word, I know how the book is going to begin and end.

· What piece are you working on now?

I am working on three projects right now: The fifth (and final) Genius Files book. The twelfth (and final) baseball card adventure, about Willie Mays. And the next My Weirder School book–“Ms. Lane Is A Pain.”

·What is your favorite book?
By anybody: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.”

By me: “Johnny Hangtime.”

·Did you receive any awards for a book of yours?
Yes. If you go to my web site and click AW SHUCKS, you can see a list of my books that have been nominated or won awards. I hope your readers will also visit my Facebook fan page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram @dangutmanbooks

And now: if have not had enough of Dan Gutman Read his funny Bio.

Dan Gutman was born in a log cabin in Illinois and used to write by candlelight with a piece of chalk on a shovel.  Oh, wait a minute.  That was Abraham Lincoln.  Actually, Dan  Gutman grew up in New Jersey and, for some reason, still lives there.

Like a lot of boys, Dan hated to read, but loved sports.  That’s one big reason why he writes mostly about sports and aims his books at reluctant readers like himself.

In 1994, Dan cooked up a middle grade novel about a boy who finds the most valuable baseball card in the world and discovers he has the power to travel through time using a baseball card like a time machine.  The result was “Honus & Me.”  The book was rejected by ten publishers over two years before HarperCollins published it in 1997.  Why Dan didn’t submit the book to Harper first is a mystery.

In any case, “Honus & Me” was a critical rave,  was nominated for eleven state book awards (the kids of California voted it their favorite book of the year), sold a gazillion copies, was loved by children everywhere, and was made into a play and a TV movie titled “The Winning Season.”   It also established Dan as an emerging name in children’s fiction and, most importantly, allowed him to avoid getting a real job.

Dan takes a special delight in seeing “Honus & Me” sold at Scholastic book clubs and book fairs, seeing as how Scholastic rejected the book–TWICE–when he submitted it to them.  To all the publishers who rejected “Honus & Me,” Dan has five words–Na na na boo boo.

“Honus & Me” was followed by “Jackie & Me” (which won the state book award in Pennsylvania and Maryland, “Babe & Me” (which won the state book award in Connecticut and Arizona), “Shoeless Joe & Me,” “Mickey & Me,” “Abner & Me,” “Satch & Me,” “Jim & Me,” “Ray & Me,” “Roberto & Me,” and “Ted & Me.”

Despite the success of this series, Dan stubbornly insists his best book is “Johnny Hangtime” (2000), a story about a boy who is a Hollywood stuntman.  The book was never nominated for anything and has sold about 12 copies, but it is soon to become a major motion picture (just as soon as Dan sells the screenplay he wrote for it).

In his insatiable quest for world domination, Dan turned toward younger readers in 2004, with “My Weird School,” a series of books for grade 1-3 about a school in which all the grown-ups are insane.  The first titles are “Miss Daisy is Crazy!” “Mr. Klutz is Nuts!,” “Mrs. Roopy is Loopy!,” “Ms. Hannah is Bananas!,” “Miss Small is Off the Wall!,” “Mrs. Hynde is Out of her Mind!,” and “Mr. Sacco is Wacko!” (They rhyme, you see).

There are 38 My Weird School books now, and Dan’s goal is to keep writin gthem until HarperCollins rips the laptop out of his cold, dead hands.  He knows where his bread is buttered.

   Oh, Dan has also written “The Get Rich Quick Club” (2004), and “Casey Back at Bat,” (2006.)  He has also written lots of other books such as “The Kid Who Ran For President” (Scholastic), “The Million Dollar Shot” (Hyperion) and “Race for the Sky” (Simon & Schuster).

 When he’s not writing books, Dan writes self-aggrandizing third-person bios like this one and visits about a 40 schools each year (how does he find the time?).  Astonishingly, he is also a loving husband to his wife Nina and their kids Sam and Emma.

We could go on and on telling you lots of great stuff about Dan, his fantastic books, and what a terrific guy he is.  But it would be a big bore.  Besides, you’ve got more important stuff to do, like sort out your recycling.  If you’d like to find out more about Dan or his books, visit his web site (

Dan thinks you should buy lots of his books, for three reasons.  Kids will love them, and Dan needs the money.

Wait, that’s only two reasons.

Somehow, Dan survived his bland and uneventful childhood to grow up and write farfetched novels for kids such as The Homework Machine, Back in Time with Thomas Edison, Back in Time with Benjamin Franklin, Race for the Sky, The Secret Life of Dr. Demented, and a whole bunch of others for different publishers so we won’t mention them here.

Dan graduated from Rutgers University in 1977 with a degree in psychology (which means, in Latin, “a total waste of time”)..  He never took a writing class in his life, and it shows.  He doesn’t know how to create beautiful “word pictures.”  He never learned the standard formula for a novel.  There is no symbolism or deep moral lessons in his books.  He still doesn’t know the difference between a simile and a metaphor.

When he’s not writing books, Dan loves to travel, ride his bike, and write self-aggrandizing third-person autobiographies like this one.

Help!  We’re running out of room!  If you want to find out more about Dan or his brilliant and wonderful daughter Emma who is looking over his shoulder as he writes this, go to his web site (

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10 Responses to Author interview:

  1. Rhea Rhodan says:

    Great interview, Gaea!

  2. sharonledwith says:

    Wonderful interview, Gaea! Love Dan’s bio, what a hoot!

  3. Robin Danner says:

    Loved the interview, Gaea and Dan!

  4. Marci Boudreaux says:

    Dan sounds like a funny guy! I’ll have to read some of his books. Thanks, Gaea!

  5. Great interview! Loved the tone. I have read only one of Dan’s books, Miss Kraft is Daft, and I thought it was quite funny. The baseball stories sounds like a lot of fun, too, so I think I’ll check a few of them out.

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