Teachers & Librarians

Penguin Young Readers

Lisa Graff

LISA GRAFF is the author of Double Dog Dare, The Thing About Georgie, Umbrella Summer, The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, and Sophie Simon Solves Them All. A former children's book editor, she is now a full time writer and an adjunct professor at McDaniel College. She lives with her cat, Henry, in New York City, where she loves to bake cookies and cakes—and even make peanut butter every once in a while. You can visit Lisa online at www.lisagraff.com.

Learn more about Lisa Graff here. If you are interested in hosting an appearance by Lisa Graff at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form, send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.

If you are interested in hosting an appearance by Lisa Graff at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information


Author Appearance Q&A with Lisa Graff:

What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?

I consider myself "Type-A" in the very best sense of the phrase, so I am always extremely prepared. I like to spend the first few minutes of any presentation gauging my audience: determining their interest level, how restless or sedate they seem, and how best to approach them, be it through humor or interactivity or what have you. Obviously, the ages and size of a group are big factors. I figure the more tricks I have up my sleeve, the surer my audience is to get the most out of my visit. So although I typically give my presentations with the help of PowerPoint, no two visits are ever exactly the same.

What makes your author appearances unique?

One of the things I love talking about in my appearances is the fact that, unlike many authors working today, I did not grow up wanting to be a writer. I think it's important to enforce the idea that writing is more about hard work and revision than innate talent. Having been a book editor in my previous life, I am also happy to discuss the editing process, what it means to rip apart a story and start from scratch, and—for those who are interested—the business of publishing. Also, I give out fun prizes.

Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?

I do! I've given many talks about writing, revising, and the world of publishing. One of my most popular talks is entitled "Write Like an Author, Revise Like an Editor," in which I discuss how anyone can use the skills I learned as an editor to make their own work as strong as possible, while still maintaining the free-thinking creativity of an author. I'm always happy to promote literature and writing in general—my talks tend to be less about my own books and more about the breadth of amazing literature in the world, and encouraging literacy and good writing.

What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?

An audience can never be over-prepared for an author appearance. A student who has read one of my books before I arrive will always get more out of a presentation that one who hasn't. Even reading a first chapter in class the day before makes an enormous difference. Beyond that, the most helpful thing is to make sure I know what type of group I'll be visiting: the size, the ages of the students, and the general set-up of the room.

Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?

Definitely. I always get a kick out of seeing how students in different areas respond to my books. It's never exactly the same.

Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?

Absolutely. Recently I've been to several far-flung areas, each for a week at a time, visiting one school a day. Not only does it help the schools save money on travel and lodging expenses, but it helps me get a concrete sense of who the students are, and how to reach them. Plus it gives me more time to engage with the librarians and teachers, which I always love.

What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?

I grew up in a very small, remote town, and I distinctly remember that we had exactly one author come to our school, when I was in third grade. And even though I didn't have any dreams of being an author at that time in my life, it was still a magical experience. I remember the poems he read and the activities we did. Perhaps the biggest lesson I took out of it, though, was that there were real people behind books—stories didn't just appear out of thin air. I think that may have been the spark that eventually set me off on the course of writing books of my own. I would love if I gave just one kid that same spark.

What was your favorite/most interesting/most memorable [choose one] appearance experience?

A few years back, I visited a school in a small town in Illinois where every single person—the students, the teachers, the principal, even the lunchroom aides—had read my first novel, The Thing About Georgie. They had decorated the whole school, and spent weeks discussing my book before I even arrived. It was an amazing experience for an author, not only to engage with readers who were so passionate about something I had created, but to see the various ways in which the same book can affect so many different people. It felt like the story had grown beyond me, into something that was meaningful for them and their community, and it was a beautiful thing to be a part of.


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