Name: Ken Derby
(Originally published in my old website, Writester.net in 2005)
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I grew up in Denver, Colorado. However, I have lived abroad for the last twenty years. I lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 1984-1989. I currently live in Budapest, Hungary. I’ve lived here since 1990.
Q: Can you tell us your latest book news?
A: My middle grade children’s novel, “The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade” is a “Children’s Choice 2005″ selection by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council. The hardcover version was published by Holiday House in October of 2004 and Scholastic will publish the trade paperback version and the school fair and book club version in September of 2005.
Q: How old were you when you first started writing?
A: I suppose that I made my first scribble when I was three or four months old.
Q: When did you first realize you had the potential to be a writer?
A: My high school creative writing teacher recognized that I had writing talent and she encouraged me to taking writing more seriously. I ignored her and focused on more important things – like girls.
Q: What was your inspiration to write your first novel?
A: My teaching colleague jokingly suggested that I write a novel set in Antarctica (he had no idea that I was an “uninspired writer”). I thought about his suggestion and thought: “Why not?” So I did extensive research and spent twelve months writing a middle grade historical fiction story called “The Ghost Memoirs of Robert Falcon Scott.”
Q: Is there anyone or anything that inspired you to write?
A: No . . . I started writing for the hell of it, as I mentioned above.
Q: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
A: This is an impossible question to specifically answer. Every moment and experience in life has the potential to color an author’s writing.
Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
A: Yeah, I copy Louis Sachar. Okay. Not really. I have no idea if I have a specific writing style. Ask my readers this question. They would have a better idea.
Q: What genre are you most comfortable writing?
A: I’ll try any genre . . . except poetry. Poetry puts me to sleep within seconds.
Q: How do you come up with the title(s) for your book(s)?
A: Little voices in my head tell me the titles to my books.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: In “The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade” the message is simple: break some rules and enjoy life.
Q: How much of the novel is realistic?
A: As much as the reader wishes it to be realistic.
Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
A: My son was the inspiration for “The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade.”
Q: What books have most influenced your life?
A: “The New Psycho-Cybernetics” and “The Tao of Pooh”.
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: I don’t have a mentor, but if I could choose a mentor I would split my time with three writers: Stephen King, Chris Crutcher, and Louis Sachar.
Q: What are you reading now?
A: “Brain Droppings” by George Carlin, “Yoga” by Shakta Kaur Khalsa, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and “The Anatomist” by Federico Andahazi
Q: What new author has grasped your interest?
A: Gail Giles. Her first young adult novel, “Shattering Glass,” is an extraordinary, dark novel about emotional and psychological competition between high school students.
Q: Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
A: Yeah, live like Winnie-the-Pooh and don’t take the “rat race” too seriously.