Book a Visit
I spend a few weeks out of each year visiting middle schools, high schools, and libraries. It’s a good way to meet my readers, it gets me away from my tyrannical computer, and I find it personally rewarding to play a part in getting students excited about reading and writing.
If you are interested in having me visit your school or library please don't hesitate to get in touch through Jean Dayton at Dayton Bookings. I will work with large or small groups. Using examples drawn from my young adult novels, I talk about where ideas come from, how ideas become stories, and how stories are turned into books.
My presentations vary depending on the age of the audience, the books they may have read, the specific needs of the school, library, or conference. Some prefer that I focus on writing and idea generation, others would rather I talk about reading, some want me to discuss a particular title. For more information, check out the FAQs listed below.
School and Library Visits: FAQs
• What are the appropriate grade levels for your novels?
My Young Adult books are best for grades seven through ten.
The The Flinkwater Factor and the Bloodwater Mysteries (Snatched, Skullduggery, and Doppelgänger) are aimed a slightly younger readers, grades four through seven.
• How far ahead should we book a visit?
Most of my visits are booked nine to twelve months in advance. However, I can often accommodate a shorter “event horizon," so if Chris Crutcher or Laurie Halse Anderson can't make it, drop me a line.
• What do you charge?
$1550 per day, plus travel and lodging expenses. That includes three presentations to any size group. It's a lot of money, I know, but think of it as a $28,000 discount off what it would cost you to get John Green.
I sometimes do half-day visits to schools in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for $800.
For squeaky small budgets, consider a video conference. Click here for more info on how to set up a Skype visit.
For information on availability, email or call Jean Dayton at Dayton Bookings (812-824-5017).
• Which of your books is best for our “reluctant readers?”
I occasionally get emails from students who claim they had never read a whole book before picking up one of my novels. I have no idea whether or not it is true. The two books these kids mention most often are Invisible and Mr. Was. Rash is very popular with boys. Sweetblood is extremely popular with girls—especially those with black fingernail polish. Blank Confession is a good choice for a short, fast-reading book that appeals to both boys and girls.
• Are you warm and cuddly, or scary and weird?
I hope to fall somewhere in between.
• Are teacher’s guides available for any of your books?
Teacher’s guides for selected titles are available right here on this website. This website also offers information on Reticulated Elf Weasels, vampires, water towers, and other items of interest.
• How do we prepare for an author visit?
On the day of the visit I won't need much. A microphone, a glass of water, and an audience. But it will require some preparatory work, specifically: Have the students read the book(s). I have—and will do—visits to schools where most of the student are unfamiliar with my work. Such "cold visits" can be beneficial, but they are not nearly as valuable and worthwhile as visits to school where all the participating students have read at least one of my novels.
• How do we order books for our event?
I encourage schools and libraries to order books through their usual wholesaler or local bookstore. Independent booksellers need your support, and will usually offer a discounted price for quantity orders.
Click here for a handy printable "order planner" listing my titles and publishers.
Larger quantities can be ordered from book wholesalers or directly from the publisher.
• Our students are intrigued by your book Godless, but we are concerned about how some parents will react if we bring a fire-breathing godless apostate such as yourself into our school.
That is not a question, it’s a statement. But let me say this: First,Godless is not an anti-religion book, nor is it an atheistic screed. It’s a book about personal power, peer pressure, the power of religion, and the power of faith. Second, discussions with students tend to be about the characters and their motivations, not about theology. Third, I do not breathe fire.
• When you visit our school, are you willing to sign books?
Absolutely! However, I will not sign body parts or books written by other authors.
Types of Presentations
Small Group Book Talks
Book talks are my favorite way to connect with students and share ideas about the writing process, how ideas happen, and what it's like to be a writer. I usually discuss a specific book, talk about the ideas behind the book and how I came to write it. These book talks work best when all or most of the students have read the book under discussion.
Time: 40 to 60 minutes, plus time for book signing. Number of students: Up to 40
Writing workshops are designed for a smaller number of students. Getting students excited about writing is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. We work mostly on idea generation, point-of-view, and the importance and "joys" of revision.
Time: 40 to 60 minutes. Number of students: up to 25
Large Group Presentations (assemblies)
Unless a school has a student body so extraordinarily literate that every last kid has read my latest novel (there are a few), I like to keep these large group talks very general to keep the non-readers engaged. I talk about how I came to be a writer, how I get ideas, how and why I write novels, what a writer's life is like, etc.
Time: 30 to 40 minutes, plus time for questions and book signing. Number of students: As many as you can fit in the room!
Skype and other video conferencing platforms have become an excellent low-cost, time-saving way for me to interact with readers in a school or library setting. All you need for a small group is a computer with a webcam, and an internet connection. For larger groups you’ll probably want a larger display and a handheld microphone.
If you don’t have a Skype account, go here: http://www.skype.com A basic account is free.
Click here for more info on how to set up a Skype visit.