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David M. Slater on "Fun & Games"

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

David Michael Slater is an acclaimed author of books for children, teens, and adults. His work includes Cheese Louise!, The Bored Book, The Boy & the Book, and the controversial teen series, Forbidden Books, which is being developed for film by Producer Kevin Bannerman (Lion King). David teaches in Reno, Nevada, where he lives with his wife and son.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm originally from Pittsburgh, went to school at the University of Michigan, then moved to Portland, Oregon for 20 years. I'm a longtime middle and high school teacher, currently teaching 7/8 English in Reno. I've been publishing books all along, almost thirty now, for children, teens, and adults, both fiction and non-fiction.

How did Fun & Games come to be?

Slowly! I took a year off of teaching to write the first draft and then tinkered with it over the next few.

When writing Fun & Games, which came first: character or plot?

I'm not the outlining type, so plots fall into place as I go. That said, while I suppose characters come first, they are also not fully formed until things get moving along. Maybe it's most accurate to say that scenes come first.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Because I work full-time, I generally seize on any time to write that I can. In terms of how I actually write, it's sort of a spiral approach. I write until a reach a dead end and then begin revising from the start. I usually get a bit farther along before another dead end arrives and I have to go back to work from the start again. Rinse and repeat until The End!

Are there any characters in Fun & Games whom you identify with? How so?

Fun & Games is, in part, about the ways different people search for their identities. I'm sympathetic with how they all approach it, but I guess I most identify with the protagonist, Jonathan, because I share his bewilderment about other people sometimes.

What is the importance of the setting (both the time and place) of Fun & Games? Did any particular real-life events make their way into the novel?

I'm often asked if Fun & Games is autobiographical, and I usually say... sort of. It's geographically autobiographical in that I grew up in Pittsburgh, in the house the protagonist lives in, and I attended the University of Michigan, where Jon goes. But the somewhat crazy events of Jon's life did not happen to me. Mostly : )

What is the most enjoyable part of the process of writing a work of fiction?

The most thrilling part for me is reaching the end of a novel or story that I in no way saw coming when I began it.

What are you working on next?

Lots! My first YA novel, Sparks, is due in the fall of '21 and a new picture book, Bear With Me, in 2022, and I've just finished a novel, a Holocaust revenge fantasy called “The Vanishing.” I'm working on a new early chapter book series, The Super Doopers, and I'm collaborating on a musical called “Shocked,” for which I've written the libretto.

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