13 Questions & Answers with Author Rob Buyea
One of the best parts of working in publishing is that we get to read the books we sell long before they are on bookstore and library shelves and sometimes we get to discover a book that’s a classic in the making. A little over 2 years ago several of us fell in love with a middle grade novel called Because of Mr. Terupt. I called it “the book that made me cry this week, for all the right reasons”. We chose Mr. Terupt as our “rep pick” for that selling season and quickly found that it was embraced by booksellers, teachers, librarians, young readers, and their parents, too.
Now we’re happy to share a new book featuring Mr. Terupt and his class, Mr. Terupt Falls Again and today author Rob Buyea joins us to talk about his writing, wrestling, reading, and what’s he’s working on now.
What is one thing about you that would surprise your readers?
Growing up, I was not a reader. I was a boy who loved sports. I always did well in school, but reading and writing were not the things that got me excited. That was sports, especially wrestling. I believe it’s the attitudes and work ethic I developed as a wrestler that has enabled me to succeed as an author.
Do you use social media? If yes, how do you feel about the role social media plays in your writing life?
I have a website and a Facebook page. I have participated on blogs and am currently a member in a wiki space with some students reading my book in school. But more than anything else, I have connected with numerous classrooms and schools, near and far, through skype. The skypes are always fun. The students ask very thoughtful questions. One question I’ll never forget was, “Mr. Buyea, Do you think all people are good people?”
Connecting with my readers is a highlight for me as an author. If social media helps me do that, then I want to do my best to use it.
What has your favorite event experience been so far?
I absolutely love my school visits! Since Mr. Terupt has been named to multiple state award lists I’m getting frequent requests about visits, and beginning to travel all around the country. A writer loves to hear from his readers, but meeting them is the best. Going into the classrooms brings me back to my days of teaching elementary school. I love to joke with the kids, hear their questions, share stories, and talk with the teachers. It’s wonderful, and it always leaves me feeling motivated and extremely grateful.
That being said, there was one event experience that I won’t ever forget. It was my first Barnes & Noble appearance. Somehow, my signing ended up being part of the children’s story hour. Instead of meeting fourth or fifth graders, I had a carpet full of four and five-year-olds. I put Mr. Terupt on the side and grabbed Dav Pilkey’s book, Dog Breath, from the wall. I read his book to the kids and even sold a few copies for him. One little boy even asked me to sign Dav’s book! That was funny.
What’s your favorite snack food when you’re writing?
Do you have a favorite place to write?
No. Where I write often depends on what I’m doing in my writing. If I’m on the computer, then I’m at my desk in my office, surrounded by books. If I’m working on paper then I might still be at my desk, or in a book store or coffee shop. If I need to look at several pages at once then I might spread out on the floor or go to the science lab (where I teach biology) and spread out all over one of those big tables. I like a bright and warm atmosphere.
Do you have favorite music to listen to when you write?
I like country music, old and new, but not when I’m writing. I tend to want to sing along, and I haven’t figured out how to do that while working.
What inspired you to write BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT? Was there a Mr. Terupt in your life?
I get this question a lot. No, I did not have a Mr. Terupt. Instead, I had amazing students, some incredible young writers in my third and fourth grade classrooms. I was inspired to begin writing because of them. I wanted to help them grow as writers and encourage their love for writing, and so I decided the best way I could do that was to become a writer first. And so I began.
What’s it like balancing teaching, coaching and writing?
Balancing the different roles is a challenge. But if something is important to you, then you make it happen. I find a way to fit writing into my life every day. It takes commitment—something I developed as a young wrestler in pursuit of a state championship.
Do you plan to continue writing for children, or do you think you might write for adults down the road?
I’ll let the stories continue to come to me, and if I get really excited to tell one, and it turns out that it’s for adults, then I’ll write it. Writing for children is special and important to me, though. I love their optimism.
What was your favorite chapter, or part, to write and why?
Kids like to ask me this. Not to be difficult, but I’m really bad with the “favorite” questions. I don’t have a favorite part or character. I think this is important for aspiring writers to hear, though. Writing a story is a tremendous amount of work. If I weren’t excited about parts from beginning to middle to end, then I don’t think I’d have the energy to keep doing it over and over. And generally, the parts that really excite me are also the parts that really excite my readers. I think that’s an important point, too.
Which character speaks the loudest, to you?
I have seven students (narrators) who take turns telling about their year with Mr. Terupt. All seven came to me from the very beginning. I never considered having more or less. There isn’t one that speaks loudest to me. I’ve loved taking time to “be” each one of them.
I’ve also been asked which of my characters I’d most like to spend the day with. I know I’d have fun with Peter. We’d end up in all kinds of mischief. And I could talk to Jessica about books all day long. But of all my characters, Danielle’s grandmother is the one I’d want to meet. My grandmother left a major impression on me. I miss her dearly. It was memories of her and the relationship we had that helped me create Danielle’s grandma. This character helped me spend time with my grandmother again.
What are you working on now?
A middle grade novel. The story of two kids who save their father—and America. I’m having a blast writing it. There are many parts from beginning to end that I love.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Please share your thoughts in our comments section.