Monday, May 3, 2010

Identity of the Exquisite Corpse Adventure Mystery Author REVEALED!

Mystery Solved!
Team Corpse Welcomes
Author of Books for All Ages!

If you played our Twenty Questions game along with other Exquisite Corpse Adventure readers to try to identity our Mystery Author, you probably learned a bit about the life of a writer, as well as a bit about the life and work of our Mystery Author--JACK GANTOS!

JACK GANTOS really did break his brother's arm three times and he really would LOVE to live in a bookmobile. And, yes, it is also true that his inspiration to write came when he was a sixth grade student and, after reading his sister's diary, he decided he could write better than she could. Gantos has been writing ever since.

In addition to the Rotten Ralph Rotten Readers and the Joey Pigza books, Gantos has written a third series of books based on his own childhood collectively referred to as the Jack Henry Books.  The most recent book in the series is a prequel to the other four Jack Henry books and is titled Jack Adrift: Fourth Grade Without a Clue.

Gantos' books for young adults include Hole in My Life and Desire Lines. His most recent young adult novel is titled The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs.  School Library Journal has proclaimed Love Curse to be, "An eerie, nearly perverse gothic tale of love and devotion gone completely and frighteningly haywire. This thought-provoling story about free will and the arguments of nature and nurture will definitely stick with readers."

As the newest member to the talented writers and illustrators who make up Team Corpse, the NCBLA had the privilege of asking Gantos a few questions recently.

Q: You will be writing an episode that will be published toward the end of  The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of writing your episode?
"What I anticipate to be problematic is that the through line must be pretty choppy so I'll have to sort through the story and attempt to find some way to unravel the original intent of the Corpse's previous chapters and then parse my chapter with what has come before me. This intent may be absolutely impossible to do given the many story stands that have busted loose so I might default into writing some time-stopping passage where the character's DNA have been altered in some subatomic way and so they are now thrown back into time and have become several of Czar Nicolas's unfortunate children who have been captured by revolutionaries--but before the tragic historic ending sends them to an unhappy ending--their ever rapidly evolving DNA will whiplash them back to the present reality of the ongoing Corpse and the writer after me will have the job of sorting it all out. In other words, I'll duck and pass the buck."

Q: Exquisite Corpse readers who played Twenty Questions to identify you know that two of your favorite writers of all time are James Marshall and William Steig. What were some of your favorite books when you were in elementary school?
"I started out reading all the books my older sister read, but when she started reading the Cherry Ames Student Nurse series I had to start making my own decisions. My favorite series of books were the WORLD LANDMARK BOOKS. There were hundreds of them and they were nonfiction histories of dramatic events in time (Pizarro conquering the Icas--John F. Kennedy's torpedo boat sliced in two by a Japanese destroyer--the sinking of the massive German battleship, Bismarck and the bio of Captain Cook). History really fascinated me as a child and still does as an adult."

Q: What are you working on now? Do you have a new book coming out this year?
A: "I'm just finishing up a novel titled: MY SUMMER OF WRITING OBITUARIES about the summer my mother loaned me to our town obituary writer, an elderly woman who taught me a lot about life (and who used to let me drive her car without a license when I was twelve). She had arthritic hands so she would dictate the obits to me and I would type them up for the newspaper. We were a great team."

To learn more about Jack Gantos and  his books, be sure to check out his video interview on and visit his website. And keep reading The Exquisite Corpse Adventure on Read.Gov. Coming this Friday is Episode 17, penned by Susan Cooper and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. And when can you expect to read Jack Gantos' episode? Gantos will be writing Episdoe 25...and we have all the confidence in the world that the muses will sing sweetly to him and he will therefore have no need to "duck."

THANK YOU to Our Mystery Author Contest Entrants!
The NCBLA would like to thank all our Exquisite Corpse Adventure readers across the country who played Twenty Questions and sent in entries to our Mystery Author Contest. We will announce the winner as soon as we have had the opportunity to contact him or her. So, please check back to learn the identity of our contest winner,  who will be the lucky recipient of our $600 book collection and a phone call from Jack Gantos.