I have a happy surprise for you – another author interview! I thought that Jared’s may be our last, but I heard back from Matt de la Peña today so the interview madness continues!
C: I heard that you wrote a picture book, to be published in January 2011. How was writing a picture book different from writing novels for teens? Did you encounter the same challenges and reap the same rewards?
MP: I never thought I'd write a picture book, to be honest. It just wasn't on my radar. But I've long been a fan of Kadir Nelson's paintings and illustrations, and when I found out I had the chance to work with him, I jumped at it. I just saw the finished illustrations -- they're amazing! But it was much different than writing a teen book. With teen lit you get to go all out with the voice. You can be dramatic and take risks. With the picture book I had to be way more concise and, obviously, less edgy.
C: You’re one of our returning authors and you said in your 5 Fun Facts that TBF 2009 was the most impressive festival that you’ve been a part of! What did you like so much about TBF 2009 and what are you most looking forward to for TBF 2010?
MP: Authors talk. And we all cross paths out there on the road. I've yet to meet one author who doesn't consider TBF one of the best conferences in the country. It's incredibly author-friendly, and I love that the focus is on the actual teens. The committee members are super smart and energetic. And it's a great idea to get a few authors out into the schools before the festival. It gives the kids a sneak peek into what they'd be seeing. And everybody is nice. I like nice people.
C: Your book “Ball Don’t Lie” has been made into a movie, to be released soon. What was it like having your book adapted for the screen? Did you have a say in the changes that they made (or didn’t make)?
MP: It was surreal to see these famous actors, like Ludacris and Nick Canon, saying these lines that I'd written alone in a tiny Brooklyn Apartment. I'm actually headed to LA this summer to help write, with a few other people, a TV spin-off of Ball Don't Lie. They're going to release the movie just before shooting the TV show. But I'll tell you what's interesting. In terms of the movie and TV show, my opinion matters least. I'm just one of the writers, even though all of this stuff is based on my novel. It's very interesting.
C: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?
MP: I just read Fat City by Leonard Gardner. It's an amazing little sad novel. Beautiful prose. Maybe the best action writing I've ever encountered. It came out in 1969. Not sure how I waited this long to pick it up.
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual TBF?
MP: I love connecting with the authors I see here and there throughout the year. And I believe Terry Trueman owes me a beer. So I plan to collect on that at some point!
It seems like this is the weekend for Terry Trueman to pay up (James’ $134.43, Matt’s beer …). Matt, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these interview questions! We’re looking forward to meeting you in only 34 hours!