Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Secrets of Kidlit: Spotlight on Joey Green

The spotlight series brings to light authors’ approaches to writing for young readers and the secrets to their success. Joey Green is the author of over sixty books, including Contrary to Popular Belief, The Mad Scientist Handbook series, and The Zen of Oz.
He has appeared on dozens of national television shows, such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, and The View. Joey has also been profiled by the New York Times, People magazine, and USA Today and interviewed on hundreds of radio shows. His first middle grade novel, Not So Normal Norbert, was co-written with James Patterson and released just this week.

Welcome, Joey! It’s a treat to interview such a prolific author about the craft of writing for young readers.

JG: Thank you for having me! It’s an honor to be interviewed!

With an extensive career in writing humor and nonfiction for adults, what inspired you to switch to middle grade fiction?
 
JG: Many moons ago, I met my wife Debbie when we were both working at the same advertising agency in New York City. Our boss was a guy named Jim who occasionally wrote murder mystery books. Jim turned out to be James Patterson. Three years ago, when my wife and I visited Jim at his house in Florida, Jim invited me to write a murder mystery book with him. Murder isn’t really my thing, so I asked, “Can I be funny?” Jim said, “Maybe a kid’s book would be better.” Jim was the first person to suggest my imagination and sense of humor would be a great fit for middle grade fiction.
 
You co-wrote Not So Normal Norbert with best-seller James Patterson. How did the collaboration work in terms of your roles as writers, and what was the coolest writing secret you learned from working together?
 
James Patterson
JG: For me, working with Jim is like being Robin to Batman. He trusts my imagination, encourages my creativity, and occasionally lets me drive the Batmobile. Jim has a keen editorial eye, and he instinctively sees where the plot is slowing down. The coolest writing secret Jim taught me is “Don’t say in six pages what you can say in three pages.” The goal of his kids’ books is to get kids excited about reading by creating exciting books, and that goal totally inspired me to write a really fun book. Becoming a great reader is essential to every child’s success. And getting kids to read helps make the world a better place.

What was the main difference for you between writing adult and middle grade fiction?
 
JG: I find writing middle grade fiction incredibly liberating because kids are generally more receptive to nonsense, whimsy, and flights of imagination than adults are. I can write about a spaceship that soars at super-hyper-turbo-zippo speed—a gazillion times the speed of light—and kids immediately suspend their disbelief and accept the impossible with no questions asked. Kids also appreciate my sophomoric and sardonic sense of humor.

Green on the Helicycle
You’ve made dozens of television appearances to promote your previous books, often with fun antics with show hosts. What are your plans for getting the word out on Not So Normal Norbert?

JG: When I get invited to appear on television shows, I’ll demonstrate some of the wild gadgets that Norbert uses in Not So Normal Norbert like the helicycle, a one-person pedal-powered helicopter, and the Divergent Gibberish Transducer, a device that transmits Norbert’s spoken message across the universe but translates it into complete nonsense. I’ll also show the audience how to throw paint balloons at a wall, like the kids do in the book.

Is there some secret about you that our readers may be surprised to know?

JG: I worked at Walt Disney World where I wrote television commercials for the theme parks, so I’ve gone on the Haunted Mansion ride more than 200 times.

As a sneak preview for our readers, can you share with us any secrets about upcoming projects?

JG: I’m hard at work on a new middle-grade fiction book called Look Mom, I’m Invisible! It’s written from personal experience. Or is it? Shh, that’s the secret.

Thanks for such an interesting and fun interview, Joey. We’ll keep an x-ray eye out for your upcoming Look Mom, I’m Invisible! but in the meanwhile, we’ll check your website for updates or order a copy of Not So Normal Norbert at www.joeygreen.com.

And readers, don’t forget to enter the giveaway contest for an ARC of Not So Normal Norbert below!

All the best, Chris Brandon Whitaker

a Rafflecopter giveaway

7 comments:

  1. Sounds like a neat career he's had!

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    1. Thanks, John! Joey's great and is amazingly well-traveled to boot. A fun guy to hang out with.

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  2. but this time I've paired it with the Happy Birthday Gorgeous Stamps for a super cute combo & I have one more for you tomorrow. Plus videos today & tomorrow! Check it out below! this website

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  3. I love finding humor in books I read. Thanks for the chance! dhammelef(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Wonderful, Danielle, and I'll be in touch with the good news!

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  4. Such a fun interview! My brother will be thrilled to know Joey rode on the Haunted Mansion more than 200 times. And nice helicycle helmet, Joey! (BTW--great photo of James Patterson.)

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    1. Thanks, Wendy, and I'll take your cue: I wasn't sure to go with respect or concern with regard to the Haunted Mansion! :-)

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