Learning about the creative process of a successful writer and being highly entertained were the orders of the day, as New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman visited sixth and seventh graders at Forrestdale School on May 13.
Korman’s day-long visit, which was sponsored by the Rumson PTO, included lunch with the author for students chosen in classroom raffles as well as opportunities for photos with Korman and book signings.
The Forrestdale sixth and seventh graders sported tie-dyed clothing in homage to the character of Capricorn “Cap” Anderson in Schooled, who Korman described as “a 13-year-old hippie who is also sort of a hermit.”
Like so many around the world, the Forrestdale students and teachers have embraced Korman’s highly popular works for children and young adults. Schooled is part of the sixth grade reading curriculum, and No More Dead Dogs is included in the sixth grade summer reading list.
Korman was just 13 when his first book — the result of a seventh grade English class assignment — was published after an editor at Scholastic was impressed by his manuscript. “I was the student who collected the Scholastic book orders for my class, and I included my manuscript in the envelope when I mailed it,” he said at his morning assembly presentation. “After my first book was published, I wrote another manuscript partly to prove that I could do it again.”
“After my second book was published, writing became a summer job, and then a part-time job, and then a full-time job.”
2016 marks Korman’s 40th year as a published writer. His 80-plus titles include Slacker; Liar, Liar Pants on Fire; Ungifted, and the highly popular Swindle series, as well as a series set aboard the ill-fated Titanic. Over 17.5 million copies of his books – many translated into other languages – are currently circulating worldwide.
Speaking to his success as an author through the years, Korman told the excited and attentive crowd that all stories “are pretty much based on the question ‘what if?’”
“This applies to real-life stories as well as fiction,” he said. “Think about this – ‘what if an ocean liner known as unsinkable struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage?’”
Korman delighted the students by reading aloud from his newest book Slacker as well as revealing plot details from his current project — the third and final installment in his Mastermind series.
He also encouraged the students to perform research, become keen observers, and choose topics carefully to improve their own writing. And Korman noted that while brainstorming is a very useful process, “you will most likely come up with 20 bad ideas before you get the good one.”
“Channel your inner stand-up comedian, and see where it leads you.”