Author will coach kids on writing, reading

Patrick Carman, a prolific writer, will appear Feb. 27 as part of Lacey Loves to Read event

lpemberton@theolympian.comFebruary 17, 2014 

The annual literacy celebration known as Lacey Loves to Read has returned with all of its popular traditions, including bookmark contests, classroom Skype chats with the featured author and plans for a big community reception.

And this year, a few new activities are designed to build excitement around the work of featured author Patrick Carman. He is an award-winning children and young-adult fiction writer who hails from Walla Walla.

“His style as an author to read is just really fun,” said Holly Paxson, manager of Lacey Timberland Library. “He’s got such a wide range.”

New activities include a short story contest (with the winning entries being published in an e-book and a literary magazine), a book trailer contest in which teens could create videos to promote one of Carman’s books (winning videos will be screened at the community reception) and “Read Around Lacey” where kids can visit businesses to learn real-world applications for reading and writing.

“The biggest point of Lacey Loves to Read — why we’re doing this — is to get the community reading a notable author, to generate discussion, to show to families and children that reading is fun and really to build literacy,” Paxson said.

Lydia Hawk Elementary School teacher Heather Byington won the opportunity to have her students Skype with Carman last week. She said her class was “incredibly excited” to interact with the author.

“We’ve been reading his book ‘Into the Mist’ out loud, and it was so valuable for my students to see the person who created the story they’ve been enjoying so much,” she said. “Many students are talented writers. It was inspiring for them to talk with someone who writes as an occupation and has written so many different types of books.”

The Olympian recently caught up with Carman, 47, by telephone. Here are excerpts of the conversation:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I ran an advertising agency when I first got out of college in Portland, Oregon. I wrote a lot of copy for a long time. … All along, I always wanted to write for kids. I did not have the confidence to write a novel until I was in my 30s.

I started when I was 35, and I have 32 books out now, and I think there’s about 5 million books in print, and in 20 countries.

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: I’m married. My wife, Karen, does all of my scheduling. If I didn’t have her I would just collapse. I just show up and have a good time; she makes sure I don’t get lost.

We have two daughters. Sierra is a freshman at Oregon State; Reece is a high school junior.

Q: Where did you go to school?

A: I went to a little Catholic high school in Salem, Ore. If anyone wants to find out what that’s like there’s a little book I wrote called “Thirteen Days to Midnight.” The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Then I went to Willamette University and got an economics degree. … And I haven’t done a math problem since.

Q: Have you been a featured author for any other “One Book” events?

A: I do quite a few of these. … I think I’ve been on 50 or so lists, including ones in Texas, Oregon and Arkansas.

Q: What was the last book you read?

A: The last book I read was “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. It’s an adult vampire series. I read books for adults, and I write books for a young audience.

Q: What are you going to talk about at the Lacey Loves to Read community event Feb. 27?

A. When I’m talking to the kids, I always begin by telling a story about how I got in trouble when I was their age. It’s kind of a stand-up comedy bit, but it’s all true. I was a pretty wild kid. The talk will then get into some very simple things that they can do to be better writers.

It’s really about giving them the tools to be better readers and writers.

Q: How would you describe your books?

A: A lot of the books I write are multimedia – designed for kids who can’t get through a book.

… In a lot of my books, you read about 16 or 30 pages and then you watch a video. There are nine videos and 250 pages. Those are very popular with reading specialists and librarians.

Q: Where do you get the ideas/inspiration for your books?

A: I honestly just don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes it’s from experiences, or people I meet.

I was a very imaginative kid. I was the one who would sit in a room with a bunch of toys and come up with a bunch of scenarios all day.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?

A: I’m super excited to get there. I love talking to kids. It’s the whole reason I got into it. Besides telling stories, I love motivating kids to turn pages.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433

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