Dan Gutman is a baseball guru, and very prolific author. He recently took a few minutes to answer some questions for us here at Book Reviews and More.
1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?
Probably working on a magazine or a newspaper. In other words, I'd be unemployed.
2. You have stated that you received hundreds of rejection letters, what kept you going in the face of so much rejection?
I just convinced myself that I knew what kids like to read, and that the publishers who were rejecting me were out of touch.
3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?
My wife Nina, who has been with me from the very beginning, has been my biggest supporter. She never doubted me, or even suggested I should give up my dream. Also, my friend Ray Dimetrosky has always been a big supporter. My book "Honus & Me" is dedicated to him.
4. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?
I wish somebody had suggested to me back in 1980 that I would be good at writing for kids. I spent 15 years trying to write newspaper articles, magazine articles, screenplays, and books for grownups before I realized my true calling.
5. You have mentioned that your writing was sparked by reading books to your own children, what were your favorite books to read together as a family when your son and daughter were young?
The Cut-Ups and anything by James Marshall, anything by Dr. Seuss, and later, Hatchet.
6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to
I start with a BIG IDEA, where I take an ordinary kid and put that kid into an extraordinary situation. I brainstorm and do research where I put all my ideas on file cards. This serves as an outline. I write on a laptop computer (MacBook), and rewrite daily as I'm working on a story. I'm usually finished in about six months. I send it off to the publisher, and they do the rest.
7. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?
No. I need complete silence. Sometimes I listen to classical music on headphones to block out the noise of people talking.
8. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?
I hate to be a party pooper, but it's not like that for me. My characters exist only on the page. When I finish a book, I barely remember their names.
9. What authors influenced your writing style and format?
Gary Paulsen, Barbara Park, Mark Twain, Robert Benchley, Woody Allen. But I was more influence by TV--Get Smart, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, and Mad Magazine and National Lampoon.
10. You have worked with almost all the major publishers; Penguin Books, Macmillan, Random House, Scholastic Press, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins and more. To what do you attribute your vast publishing experience, many authors stay with one or two publishing houses their whole career?
I'd rather not put all my eggs in one basket. If I only published with one company, and they went out of business, I'd be in trouble. Also, when publishers reject what you've written, you just take it elsewhere.
11. You have stated you did not think you could write fiction and yet have become incredibly successful in the fiction market. What prompted you to take the leap with your first fiction book; They Came From Centerfield?
I enjoyed writing non-fiction, but the books became dated very quickly. I wrote books about gymnastics and ice skating that were obsolete almost as soon as they were printed. I wanted to write something that could be timeless. Also, to be honest, all the FAMOUS authors wrote fiction, and I wanted to be famous.
12. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?
I would agree with that. I don't remember much of what I learned in college, but it taught me how to be organized, how to prioritize things, how to make decisions, work hard, and to be independent. That's what you need to be successful in any field.
13. Many of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?
I sure hope books don't disappear. But if they do, reading is still reading, whether you do it with a piece of paper or a screen.
14. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?
I don't know what a torrent site is.
15. With eBooks some authors are going back and releasing ebook versions of their earlier and out of print books. Would you like to see all of your books available again via this format?
Sure! Some of my favorite books--"Virtually Perfect," "The Secret Life of Dr. Demented," did not sell and are out of print. I'm more well known now than I was when they were published, and I would love it for my fans to be able to read those books that bombed when I was unknown.
16. What were some of your favorite authors and books in your teen years who helped shape you?
The only author I really got into back then was Kurt Vonnegut Jr. And of course, Jim Bouton. But he was a baseball player who wrote "Ball Four," a book that turned me on to reading.
17. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?
"The Invention of Hugo Cabret," Gordon Korman, David Lubar, Roland Smith, Gary Paulsen, Peg Kehret, Carl Hiassen.
18. The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable, seems to be a first book in a
series, yet your website does not indicate future volumes. There will be four, coming out once a year. Will there be more books after the three volumes in the My Wierder School series are released?
Yes, there will probably be 12.
Will your 99th and 100th book be in the Genius Files series?
I'm not sure of the order yet, but they will probably be the second Genius Files book and the 11th baseball card adventure (about Ted Williams).
19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?
An encyclopedia, a dictionary, The Baseball Encyclopedia, a thesaurus, and my photo albums. Can I also have The New York Times delivered daily?
20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?
Don't copy some other author. Keep it simple. Don't use a bunch of fancy words. Have a conversation with your reader. And go to my web site (www.dangutman.com) and click TIPS FOR YOUNG AUTHORS.
Books by Dan Gutman:
The Genius Files: (HarperCollins)
Mission Unstoppable (2011)
Never Say Genius (?)
My Weirder School: (Harper Collins)
Miss Child Has Gone Wild! (2011)
Mr. Harrison is Embarrisin'! (2012)
Mrs. Lilly is Silly! (2013)
My Weird School Daze: (HarperCollins)
Mrs. Dole is Out of Control! (2008)
Mr. Sunny is Funny! (2007)
Mr. Granite is from Another Planet! (2008)
Coach Hyatt is a Riot! (2009)
Officer Spence Makes No Sense! (2009)
Mrs. Jafee is Daffy! (2009)
Dr. Brad Has Gone Mad! (2009)
Miss Laney is Zany! (2010)
Mrs. Lizzy is Dizzy! (2010)
Miss Mary is Scary! (2010)
Mr. Tony is Full of Baloney! (2010)
Ms. Leaky is Freaky! (2011)
My Weird School: (HarperCollins)
Miss Daisy is Crazy! (2004)
Mr. Klutz is Nuts! (2004)
Mrs. Roopy is Loopy! (2004)
Ms. Hannah is Bananas! (2004)
Miss Small is Off the Wall! (2005)
Mr. Hynde is Out of His Mind! (2005)
Mrs. Cooney is Loony! (2005)
Ms. LaGrange is Strange! (2005)
Miss Lazar is Bizarre! (2005)
Mr. Docker is Off His Rocker! (2006)
Mrs. Kormel is Not Normal! (2006)
Ms. Todd is Odd! (2006)
Mrs. Patty is Batty! (2006)
Miss Holly is Too Jolly! (2006)
Mr. Macky is Wacky! (2007)
Ms. Coco is Loco! (2007)
Miss Suki is Kooky! (2007)
Mrs. Yonkers is Bonkers! (2007)
Dr. Carbles is Losing His Marbles! (2007)
Mr. Louie is Screwy! (2007)
Ms. Krup Cracks Me Up! (2008)
Funny Boy: (Hyperion)
Funny Boy Meets the Airsick Alien from Andromeda (1999)
Funny Boy Versus the Bubble Brained Barbers from the Big
Funny Boy Meets the Chit-Chatting Cheese from Chattanooga
Tales From The Sandlot: (Scholastic)
The Green Monster in Left Field (1997)
The Catcher Who Shocked the World (1997)
The Pitcher Who Went Out of His Mind (1997)
The Shortstop Who Knew Too Much (1997)
And Me Series: (Harper Collins)
Roberto & Me (2010)
Ray & Me (2009)
Jim & Me (2008)
Satch & Me (2006)
Abner & Me (2005)
Mickey & Me (2003)
Shoeless Joe & Me (2002)
Babe & Me (2000)
Jackie & Me (1999)
Honus & Me (1997)
The Million Dollar Shot (1997)
The Million Dollar Kick (2001)
The Million Dollar Goal (2003)
The Million Dollar Strike (2004)
The Million Dollar Putt (2006)
Kid Who Ran for President:
The Kid Who Ran for President (1996)
The Kid Who Became President (1999)
Qwerty Stevens Adventures:
Back in Time With Thomas Edison (2001)
Back in Time With Benjamin Franklin (2002)
The Homework Machine (2006)
Return of the Homework Machine (2009)
The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way (2011)
The Talent Show (2010)
The Christmas Genie (2009)
Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You
How To Go Green (2009)
Nightmare at the Book Fair (2008)
Casey Back at Bat (2007)
Getting Air (2007))
Jackie Robinson and the Big Game (2006)
The Get Rich Quick Club (2004)
Babe Ruth and the Ice Cream Mess (2004)
Race For The Sky (2003)
The Secret Life of Dr. Demented (2001)
Johnny Hangtime (2000)
Landslide! A Kid's Guide to the U.S. Elections (2000)
Jackie Robinson (1999)
Joe DiMaggio (1999)
Cal Ripken, Jr.: My Story (1999)
Virtually Perfect (1998)
Katy's Gift (1998)
The Way Baseball Works (1996)
Ice Skating (1995)
Taking Flight (1995)
They Came From Centerfield (1995)
Banana Bats & Ding-Dong Balls (1995)
World Series Classics (1994)
Baseball's Greatest Games (1994)
Baseball's Biggest Bloopers (1993)
Baseball Babylon (1992)
It Ain't Cheatin' If You Don't Get Caught (1990)
I Didn't Know You Could Do THAT With A Computer (1986)
The Greatest Games (1985)
Author Profile and interview with Dan Gutman.