Today was a particularly exciting day here at the Thalia Book Club Camp: With a visit from Gordon Korman, author of 39 Clues: The Medusa Plot, and a trip to Random House on our schedule, we still managed to fit in a morning of writing exercises in the theater. Each of us was assigned the name of a superhero and asked to think up their mission and the name of their nemesis. Then our task was to write an enticing “blurb” for the back cover of our hypothetical books, introducing the reader to our hero’s story. Taking the challenge in stride, we wrote teasers for tales of an ice princess and her arch-rival the Jalapeño, the Multiplier and his nemesis the Divider, and a man who turns into a tiny bulldozer to fight the dust under his bed.
We then met with today’s author, Gordon Korman, to talk with him about his exciting new installment to the 39 Clues adventure series. We learned that Gordon has been writing books since he was twelve, publishing his first novel, This Can’t Be Happening at Marshall Hall!, when he was only a freshman in high school! Since then, he’s written a wide range of books for young readers. Most recently, he has published a series about the Titanic and another series about a group of kids trying to be the youngest people to climb Mount Everest. Gordon told us that all of these books, The Medusa Plot included, required a lot of research, something he enjoys and that helps fuel his creative process. When we asked what it was like joining the team of authors behind the 39 Clues series, Gordon said it was really fun having coworkers for the first time.
Since The Medusa Plot was such an action-packed book, the writing activity we did with Gordon dealt with creating scenes of suspense where “something goes wrong.” We produced some exciting (and grisly) stories based on this prompt, some of which will surely be read at our final performance on Friday!
After saying goodbye to Gordon and having a quick lunch in the park,
we all headed down to Random House for a visit with our friends in the children’s publishing division. We got to watch and compare book trailers, share our thoughts about cover design and how it affects which books we buy.
We then went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the children’s division’s offices which included a peek into the room filled with books that won’t be in stores until next year. We got to meet all sorts of copy editors and editors, as well as Chip Gibson, the publisher and president of Random House Children’s Books!
We were already having a great time on our field trip when we learned that Random House had a special visitor waiting for us in the conference room where we’d started our visit. We were surprised and very excited to have the opportunity to sit down with Christopher Paolini, author of the Eragon series.
Though he lives in Montana, Christopher is in New York this summer finishing the final book in his series (which he began at age 14). He was happy to meet with us and had some great advice for young writers. Above all, he encouraged us to keep reading anything and everything we can get our hands on, and to learn as much as possible about the English language, our primary tool as writers. Finally, he told us to write , revise — and to not get discouraged.
Random House gave each of a gift bag of books for the road, which some of us began reading on the subway ride back to Symphony Space.
We made it back just in time for pick-up and are looking forward to another day of camp tomorrow.