|Kevin in his office, pre-coffee.|
The Long Version
In middle school, I started writing my own spy stories, and then horror stories. My favorite author in middle school and high school was Stephen King. I also got more and more into playing the drums in the school band and with friends.
I kept writing and writing, all through high school and college. I mostly did this on my own. I didn't take creative writing classes except for one elective in high school, and I didn't show many people my writing. I did join the literary magazine later in high school and published some poems that might not have been very good. :) I never really liked English class, because I didn't like the books we had to read and I hated writing essays. (I still don't like writing essays, but now I do like reading a story and then thinking about why the author did what she did, and what the themes are.) Also in college, there were so many other interesting things to study, like painting, philosophy, and ecology—I ended up majoring in biology and environmental science, and even spent a semester in Kenya—that I figured I would learn about all that stuff, and keep writing on
I moved to Boston after college to play in a band with some friends, and I worked for awhile as a bank teller, and then a life-changing event happened: I took a job at a summer nature camp, and there I met some kids and parents whose school very badly needed a science teacher. The school was in Dorchester, MA, just south of Boston, and somehow, they hired me. For five years, I taught their creative science program called Kidlab, which was hands-on science for elementary school kids. Turned out I loved teaching. In my third year, I also started teaching one of the reading circles, and started reading the popular kids' books of the time, like Harry Potter, and the Golden Compass, and Walk Two Moons, and Holes. I'd still been writing a little bit, but suddenly my head starting filling with stories for young readers.
On New Year's day 2000, I sat down and started trying to write my first middle grade book. I was 25. I saved up some money, stopped teaching science a couple years later, and put all my time into writing. Six years after starting that first story, and MANY rejection letters later, I got my first publishing contract from Arthur A. Levine books. That was for my third try at a novel. It was called Carlos is Gonna Get It. Since then, I have been really lucky to keep writing and publishing books.
My favorite things about being an author are imagining new ideas and talking about my books and writing with kids and teens.