Teachers & Librarians

Penguin Young Readers

Dean Pitchford

Dean Pitchford was born and raised in Hawaii and studied at Yale. He began his career as an actor off and on Broadway before turning to songwriting, screenwriting and directing. Dean has been nominated for four Academy Awards (winning the Oscar and Golden Globe for "Fame"), six Grammys, and two Tony Awards. His first novel for young readers was The Big One-Oh, followed by Captain Nobody. Dean lives in Los Angeles, California.

Please visit Dean's website at www.deanpitchford.com to learn more about him. Make sure to stop by www.captainnobody.com and www.thebigoneoh.com as well to find out more about his books!

If you are interested in having Dean make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or email the Author Appearance Coordinator at authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.

 

The Movie Songs of Dean Pitchford

Not only is Dean Pitchford a talented writer...click above to see clips of the songs hes written!

 

Author Appearance Q&A with Dean Pitchford:

What is a typical appearance like with you? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?

Because my work has ranged over so many genres and so many years, I tailor my presentation to the audience I'm facing. If a video playback system is available, I'll start by showing a six and a half minute compilation I've cut together of 17 of my film songs, ranging from "Fame" (1980) to a Martina McBride performance in "Bambi II" (2006). Adults may be the first to recognize the 80's songs, but as the music moves through the 90's and beyond, younger members of the audience begin to react and clap and sing along. I follow that with a little bio: about being born in Honolulu, traveling 5,000 miles to attend Yale, and winding up on Broadway by the time I was 19. Then on to the songwriting and filmwriting, after which I'll bring it all back to my newest avocation—middle grade fiction. Finally, I'll read from one of my books and do all the voices. I'm delighted to report that children's jaws actually do drop when they hear a grown man doing funny voices.

What makes your author appearances unique?

The fact that I made my living for years singing, acting and dancing on Broadway and T.V., and doing voice-over work gives me an edge when it comes to reading my own work. Also, having written movies and songs for and worked with the likes of Kevin Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dolly Parton, Cher, Hilary Duff, LL Cool J, Barbara Streisand, and Whitney Houston, I've got stories to tell that other authors might not.

Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences?

I like adults. I've been accused of being one myself. Many, many parents and grown-ups have told me that my songs have provided the soundtrack of their lives, so, even though they may not have read a book I've written (yet!), there's a good chance that—after 70 million records sold worldwide—they've heard my songs. And, once they get past the "Omigosh, you wrote that?! And THAT?!", we discover that we're old friends. After all, I've been on their car stereos, in their aerobics classes, coming at them from television sets and keeping them company on their elevator rides for decades now.

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

Because my career has ranged all over the creative and performing arts, I find it most helpful to hear exactly how I can focus my presentation for the audience at hand. When I first began making appearances, I'd have teachers, book store managers and principals rush up to me afterward and gush, "I thought you were only an author! I had no idea you did all those other things! I wish you'd spoken about your training as a musician OR the challenges of writing for film OR the thrill of working on Broadway OR...." Well, you get the idea. I can adapt my presentation to the specific interests of any group as long as they know that I'm ready, willing and able.

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

I enjoy meeting new people and having new experiences, so, yes, I'm thrilled to travel anywhere. Remember, I was born in Hawaii, so my entire childhood was spent fantasizing about the fascinating people who lived in all those brightly colored states on my wall map. I imagined that every one of them was filled with folks who'd be as happy to meet me as I was to meet them. I haven't been disappointed yet.

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

Early on in my writing career—once I saw the power of a hit movie or a popular song—I realized that it was very important that I be very careful about the message I'd be sending with my work. I try to be upbeat and life-affirming in all of my writing, not only for my audience but also because it makes me look forward to getting back to every book or song or film I happen to be working on.

What was your favorite appearance experience?

Can I cite two? For one, two fifth-grade teachers, who had read and loved "The Big One-Oh" pooled their year-end gift fund (allocated by the school) and bought every child in their classes a copy of the book. I arranged to get the books and a list of all 60 students' names in advance of my appearance, so I was able to personalize each autograph. And when I got to the school, I was delighted to find that the students and teachers and parents had visited www.thebigoneoh.com and followed the links to find recipes for creating their own House of Horrors birthday party. They had made about a half dozen of the treats they found there, and, after I spoke, we had a full-on, stuff-your-face celebration!

The second memorable appearance happened at the Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center. Putnam had arranged for six fifth-grade classes from assorted schools on Manhattan's West Side to come together for my presentation. I was excited to talk to all the children, but had no expectations that any books would be sold that day. Boy, was I wrong! I guess I did a good job, because, as soon as I finished, these kids whipped out their MasterCards and began buying with a vengeance. (Some even got on their cell phones to call their parents for permission before making a purchase.) I think we sold more that 75 copies that one day. I—and the staff at Barnes & Noble—were stunned!

 

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Do you have questions about an author visit or comments about this page? Please contact the author appearance coordinator.