Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Skinny Dip with Gennifer Choldenko

Chasing Secrets

Avail­able August 2015

What keeps you up at night?

Gen­er­al­ly I wake up wor­ry­ing about my kids or my career. The mid­dle-of-the-night sce­nar­ios are dire: acci­dents, Alzheimer’s, awful reviews, abject humil­i­a­tion in one form or anoth­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly I’m a world-class wor­ri­er, so there I am lying in a pool of sweat whipped into a fret­ting fren­zy when sud­den­ly an idea pops into my head. A good idea. An idea that solves a writ­ing prob­lem I’ve been grap­pling with for days. But I don’t know it because mid­dle-of-the-night ideas come in dis­guise. An image, a line of dia­logue, a name, a char­ac­ter I hadn’t thought was impor­tant that sud­den­ly begins to speak to me. I write every­thing down but I often don’t under­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of what I’ve writ­ten until the next morn­ing.

What is your proud­est career moment?

I’m the kid in the back-back of the sta­tion wag­on. The one who tries hard and every­one says: is such a nice girl. I’m not the star. I don’t have a his­to­ry of win­ning any­thing. The day I won the New­bery Hon­or changed my life. It made me believe in my dreams in a way noth­ing else ever has.

Describe your favorite pair of paja­mas.

My favorite PJs look like an 18th cen­tu­ry orphan’s rags. They are worn to threads, the elas­tic frayed down to one thin rub­ber band. I live in fear that some­one out­side my fam­i­ly will see me wear­ing them, but I sim­ply can’t give them up. They feel like me.

In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?

I’d like to win a gold medal in gym­nas­tics or ten­nis although in my mind’s eye I look good in those skimpy lit­tle out­fits. Clear­ly, I have a great imag­i­na­tion.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Putting the Monkeys to Bed

Avail­able June 2015

Once, I spoke to 1500 mid­dle school kids in a gym­na­si­um the size of the state of Texas. The screen where my lap­top pro­ject­ed the images essen­tial for the pre­sen­ta­tion was the size of a for­tune cook­ie. The audi­ence could not see it. I was the only speak­er for an entire hour. I thought I was going to faint when I walked into this sit­u­a­tion but the kids had read my books. They want­ed to hear what I had to say. You could have heard an ant cross that gym­na­si­um floor. I will always be indebt­ed to the teach­ers who pre­pared those kids so well.

What’s the first book you remem­ber read­ing?

The Car­rot Seed by Ruth Strauss and Crock­ett John­son. I still remem­ber hold­ing it in my chub­by lit­tle hand, read­ing it for the very first time. I believed I was the main char­ac­ter. In one hun­dred and one words, Strauss and John­son told a pow­er­ful sto­ry that spoke to me on the deep­est lev­el. Incred­i­ble!

What TV show can’t you turn off?

Inter­est­ing the way you phrased this ques­tion: “can’t turn off” which implies that you should be turn­ing TV off. Or in fact you shouldn’t turn it on in the first place. Hon­est­ly, I think that’s a dat­ed point of view. The best writ­ing is in books. No doubt about that. But a close sec­ond is writ­ing for tele­vi­sion. The Sopra­nos, House of Cards, Break­ing Bad, The Left­overs, Mad­men, Trans­par­ent . . . this is fine, fine char­ac­ter writ­ing. Writ­ing for movies, on the oth­er hand, is not near­ly as strong as it was ten years ago.

What book do you tell every­one to read?

Not sur­pris­ing­ly I have a lot of favorite books so I will just talk about this month’s favorite books. For YAs: All the Light We Can­not See by Antho­ny Doerr. For MG read­ers: Nest by Esther Ehrlich.


One Response to Skinny Dip with Gennifer Choldenko

  1. David LaRochelle April 1, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    Thank you for let­ting us know the bravest thing you’ve ever done, Gen­nifer. You described a sce­nario that scares me to death: speak­ing in a huge audi­to­ri­um where my Pow­er­point is vir­tu­al­ly use­less. If that ever hap­pens to me, I’ll try to chan­nel your brav­ery.

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