Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Exquisite Corpse Adventure: Interview with Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes,
Author of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure
Episode Nine, Talks About Her Work

Episode Nine of The Exquisite Corpse
Adventure, titled "In Arm's Way," is now live on Read.Gov. This latest installment in the online story game introduces a new character to the zany adventure of 11-year old twins Nancy and Joe--a pirate named Angel.

Ms. Grimes is a New York Times bestselling author and the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include the ALA Notable book, What is Goodbye?, the novels Jazmin's Notebook, Dark Sons, and The Road to Paris (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books). She recently answered a few questions about her work:

M. T. Anderson has described the process of writing an episode for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure something "like playing a game of hot potato, tossing the spud from person to person, passing it down a line of friends." When the "potato" was passed to you to write Episode 9, how did you feel about the experience? Did this type of writing put you out of your comfort zone...or was it a thrill?

This put me completely out of my comfort zone! I'd never done anything like it before, and in the company of such gifted storytellers, at that. The experience was quite daunting, but I do like a good challenge.

Katherine Paterson, another Exquisite Corpse Adventure author, was recently named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. A third grader in the audience asked her, "How do you feel when you write?" So, may I ask, how do you feel when you write?

Charged, exhilarated, alive. That's how I feel when I'm writing the first draft, anyway. Doing rewrites is another story, altogether!

Your recent books Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel and Rich: A Dyamonde Daniel Book star a young girl with a sparkling personality who has a knack for language and a knack for understanding people. Did you know someone like Dyamonde when you were growing up? Is Dyamonde someone you wished you had had for a friend?

Dyamonde was unlike anyone I'd known. I'm not quite sure where she came from, to tell the truth. For example, my least favorite subject in school was mathematics, and yet Dyamonde loves math. According to her, math helps her make sense of the world. I don't know where that came from! She was a complete surprise to me, but I love her.

And, you have a new Dyamonde Daniel book (Almost Zero: A Dyamonde Daniel Book, from Putnam) scheduled to be published soon! When can readers hope to see this book in stores and libraries? Can you tell us something about your next writing project?

Ah, Less than Zero will be out this spring. As for new projects, there are several. They include a work of historical fiction set after the Civil War, a collection of tanka poems, and a fourth Dyamonde Daniel book. Those should keep me busy for awhile!

Read Nikki's episode on READ.GOV now! A new episode is published every two weeks. Also, be sure to check out the NCBLA's coordinating Educational Resource Center.

Visit Nikki Grimes' website and read more about her new books.