Friday, December 17, 2010

Meet Tom Angleberger

Families Matter: December Guest Interview – Tom Angleberger
Interviewed by: D.M. Cunningham

There have been many great books released this year in the middle grade genre. One of those books, and for the record a top five pick of mine, is Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. The story tells of Dwayne and his talking finger puppet, an Origami Yoda, who doles out advice to his fellow students while struggling with his own journey. Tom is one of the most down to earth people I have had the pleasure of getting to know and he is also an outstanding writer. If you are looking for a perfect book for the young reader in your family, I can’t recommend this book enough.  Tom was nice enough to pay us a visit here at Families Matter to talk about the book and his writing.

Can you tell us what a typical writing day is like for you?

Tom Angleberger: I don't really do that sort of writing. I think about ideas and let them stew for a long time. Then when it's ready I'll feel like I've just got to sit down and write. Hopefully, it will be possible. But it may be late at night or very early in the morning. (4:30 a.m. is a good time for me.)

What draws you to writing for children and what do you enjoy most about it?

TA: I think I basically write whatever comes out of the stew (see above) and it usually works best as a mid-grade novel. But I'd like to think that what I write will be of interest to some adults as well, it just isn't packaged for them.

Origami Yoda seems to building quite a fan base. Did you expect this kind of response because of the massive Star Wars following, or has it been surprising?

TA: It's been amazing. I knew the Yoda connection would make people pick up the book. And once they opened it, they would see that it was about people like themselves, like me -- nerdy Star Wars fans. What's been great has been seeing a whole bunch of these people -- my people -- together at one time... as happened at the Decatur Book Fest. I really felt the power of The Force at that one. And it's also great meeting kids individually that have really dug the book, because they -- like me -- see themselves in Dwight.

What can we expect from the second book in the series?

TA: Exploding Pizza Bagels of Love!

Can you tell us what happens to the writer once your new book releases? How much of the publicity is up to you?

TA: For my first two books, just about 100% of it was up to me. And it showed.
Now, with Amulet, it's very different. They have a great publicity department that does a lot for me and my books. But it's still a partnership. They come up with an idea or an opportunity and I still have to put in the work to make it happen. Like when they suggested I fold 1000 Origami Yodas to give away with the ARCS. I folded them and they got them to the right people

Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation and how schools can contact you for future visits.

TA: School visits are the best thing ever!!! I love them.
Here's my show in a nutshell--
-Greet kids as they walk in.
-Juggle WITH the audience.
-Attempt to settle kids down post-juggling.
-Lively reading of "Origami Yoda and the Embarrassing Stain."
-Everybody folds a Yoda. Every kid gets a piece of paper and one volunteer helps me fold a giant piece of paper as a demonstration.
-Giant Yodas and Q&A combined. Theoretically, kids throws giant Yodas the in air, I answer questions, kids catch giant Yodas on a string.
-I sign books and the Yodas the kids folded.
(And schools or anyone else may contact me at

What kind of writing advice would you give to me if I was 10-13 years old and told you I wanted to be a writer?

TA: Don't just spew a lot of typo-ridden nonsense on a blog ... like I do.
Learn to put some effort into your writing. Learn to rewrite, to polish, to cut, to give-up, to delete and to move on. And don't write anything that isn't True. Even fiction -- good fiction -- must be True.
I couldn’t agree more with you. I constantly hear editors, authors and publishers talk about grounding the story in reality and truth. Great advice.
Tom, we can’t thank you enough for stopping by and sharing with us. If you want to learn more about Tom and his books please visit -

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Matt for a great interview and to Tom for sharing this with our readers. WE are so happy you are here.



*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.