Today we took our first field trip of the week! We traveled to Random House where we met Matthew Cody, author of the upcoming book Powerless, an adventure/mystery story about kids with superpowers. The novel doesn’t come out until November, but our campers had already been given early copies of the finished manuscript. Most of the members of his family haven’t even read the book yet – they, like the public, will have to wait until November! When we talked to Matt, he told us that he loves superheroes and comic books, as well as the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson book series, and so each had a different part in inspiring the story of Powerless (by the way, his favorite superhero when he was a kid was Batman, and now his favorite is the Flash). We also shared with each other which characters in the story were our favorites, and which powers we thought would be the coolest to have.
The most interesting part of meeting with Matt Cody, though, was listening to him talk about writing and publishing the book. He told us that Powerless is the very first book that he has published, and that it took him four whole years to write and edit it into a final manuscript. After learning a little about the writing process from Rebecca Stead yesterday, today we got to learn even more about what it takes to finally publish a novel, which actually involves almost as much editing as it did writing the story in the first place! Powerless was actually edited six times, with six different versions of the book. The editing process is complex, and we met all the people who helped make Powerless into a final book. We met the editor, Allison, who helps decide what parts to keep, cut down, add, or cut out completely. There’s a completely different person, though, whose job it is to choose things such as the font and what kind of paper to use. We also met Melissa, who designed the cover art for the book. As one of our campers pointed out, the editing process is more complex than some of us had thought, involving a collaboration of at least four people working on the same book at one time.
After a quick free-write assignment about superheroes guided by Matt, we not only had our Powerless manuscripts signed, but were also given surprise signed copies of Eragon by Christopher Paolini! We were then given a tour of Random House’s kids book offices, where there seemed to be books overflowing from the rooms and cabinets. The entire floor looked like so much fun, with large posters of books, huge cardboard cutouts of well-known characters, and color everywhere you looked. We also saw what our tour guides called the “Illustrators Wall,” a wall that is filled with pictures and drawings done by book illustrators who have visited Random House. What a fun office!
As usual, we took plenty of photos: