Our book today was a contemporary realistic novel called Slam, written by Walter Dean Myers. Slam is centered on Greg “Slam” Harris, a basketball player who lives in Harlem, and is meeting challenges both on and off the court. To get ready for our author visit, we practiced our basketball moves on stage, imagining that we were really on the court.
Then we used our moves to act out passages from Slam in groups of two and three.
We moved back to the studio to meet Walter Dean Myers. He talked to us in great detail about his writing and researching processes and his life in general. He told us how he gets up at 5am every day and writes five pages. He also talked to us about the large amount of research he does before writing anything, including interviewing people, finding images of what he imagines the characters look like, and even visiting the locations his books are set in. He talked to us about how he writes what he knows, but how he also uses his imagination to write about things outside of his own life experience.
We also learned that unlike some of our other authors this week, Walter doesn’t title any of his books. That part is done by his editors. Walter also shared a little bit about what he is working on currently, and even asked for our opinion on one of his future novels!
After we got our books signed and the author left, we went for lunch in the park. Luckily it was a beautiful day we could all enjoy our lunches outside. We even got in a quick game of capture the flag.
After returning from lunch, we were off to visit the set of The Colbert Report! At Stephen Colbert’s lively studio, we had the opportunity to meet with two long-time members of the show’s writing staff: Michael Brumm and Rob Dubbin. We asked our many, many questions and they gave us a fascinating insight into the writing of their wacky and intelligent show. We learned about the daily process of writing a television show, including pitching jokes, rewriting scripts, and collaborating with other writers and Stephen Colbert. We even got some juicy details on a few things that have gone awry over the years, and what happens when the audience doesn’t think a joke is funny. Michael and Rob talked about their lives and careers before The Colbert Report and gave us great advice about writing and working. It was extra special to meet with these writers right on set — all the lights, cameras, and action right in front of us.
Tomorrow we meet Helen Phillips, author of Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green.