Monday, June 16, 2014

4 Questions and 3 Sentence Starters with Paul Acampora

I'm kicking off the second week of summer break with bibliovore Paul Acampora. We chatted about I Kill The Mockingbird, the books in his to-read pile, and book banning. Thank you, Paul! 


Paul, I think I Kill the Mockingbird is the perfect book to kick off the Summer #Bookaday Challenge. I can see the members of the Nerdy Book Club really connecting with Lucy, Michael, and Elena. What do you plan on reading this summer?

Paul Acampora: Thanks! I have a huge list for reading and re-reading. In no particular order it includes:


To Kill a Mockingbird (of course)


The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail by Jeffrey Bolster


The Guns at Last Light (final installment of Rick Atkinson’s WWII Liberation Trilogy)


The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín 


Drama by Raina Telgemeier



Hollow City by Ransom Riggs



The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty by Wilfrid Sheed



The Forever War by Joe Haldeman



Doomsday Book by Connie Willis



E.B. White: A Biography by Scott Elledget



Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan



The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan



Soldier Dog by Sam Angus



Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip by Nevin Martell



The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm



The Sun and Other Stars  by Brigid Pasulka


Kate Walden Directs Night of the Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata (best title ever!!!!)

There’s lots more too. I’ll never get to them all, but I try. In truth, the books that I’m most excited about are the ones I haven’t even heard of yet. I visit the library and local bookstores almost every week. I’m going to stumble across a great looking cover or somebody is going to point me to a title that I know nothing about… and that book that will knock my socks off. It will be totally out of the blue. I can’t wait to find it!
Download a discussion guide. 
For the benefit of those who have not read I Kill the Mockingbird, will you please explain The Mockingbird Manifesto? (P.S. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will add it to your ever-growing to-read pile.)

Paul Acampora: The Mockingbird Manifesto is a whole bunch of things. It’s how my characters try to justify their actions. It’s also how they try to direct the actions of others. It’s a pretty accurate picture of my own definition of good behavior when it comes to encouraging reading (and other things too). Also, the Mockingbird Manifesto reflects my fascination with trickster gods because 1) the Mockingbird Manifesto is such a trickster god thing to say, 2) I think there’s a connection between the “mocking” part of To kill a Mockingbird and the ethos of trickster gods (I’ve read that Harper Lee has a lightning wit and a wonderful sense of irony and humor. I believe it.), and 3) if trickster gods are good enough for Neil Gaiman (see American Gods and Anansi Boys) then they’re good enough for me. Staying with the trickster gods for a moment, Lucy, Elena and Michael all know the Anansi stories. They’re big fans, as am I, of A Story, a Story by Gail E. Haley so they’d get the connection I’m describing here. By the way, I cut the scene that explained all the trickster god stuff early on because frankly, it’s probably only interesting to me. Also, earlier versions of the book featured a dachshund named after the Norse trickster god, Loki. The dog’s name got changed to Balder because I love Libba Bray’s Going Bovine which features the Norse god Balder. Actually, all my novels have intentional and accidental connections to Going Bovine. I love that book, and I love Libba Bray. I don’t think she knows that but there it is. Everybody wave at Libba Bray. She is a gift to this universe. Finally, the Mockingbird Manifesto also contains a connection to The Lorax because 1) Dr. Seuss is awesome and 2) Mike Reiss is a writer from my hometown who worked on the movie version of The Lorax. I’ve never met Mike (he’s also a lead writer for The Simpsons) but our parents know each other, and I think it’s kind of cool that we’re both from Bristol, Connecticut. I’ve now clearly veered into the realm of too much information, but this is how my brain works and I really do think about all this stuff while I’m writing. Here’s the actual Mockingbird Manifesto:


WE SUPPORT ALL ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO THE JOY, THE FUN, THE REWARD, THE CHALLENGE, AND THE ADVENTURE OF READING. WE DO NOT CONDONE THIEVERY, VANDALISM, OR CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. WE ENCOURAGE THE USE OF RESOURCES SUCH AS WIT, COURAGE, HUMOR, AND FORBIDDEN FRUITS. TRICKERY, DISRUPTION, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, MILD CHAOS, AND COMMUNITY ACTION . . . THESE ARE PERMITTED, TOO. WE FIGHT FOR THE BOOKS!

Thank you for creating a middle-grade character who excels at sports and is also an avid reader. 

Paul Acampora: You’re welcome! I enjoy characters – and people – who are many different things at the same time. That’s how the real world works. That’s what healthy people look like. 

Image credit: Paul Acampora 
Which character is most like you: Lucy, Elena, Michael, or Mr. Nowak (aka Fat Bob)? 

Paul Acampora: In many ways, they are all who I aspire to be. They are passionate, optimistic, smart, and caring. They’re not fearless, but they take action anyway. Because of that, they’re able to change the world a little bit. As far as Mr. Nowak, he’s not only the greatest professional wrestler in the history of the universe (so of course I want to be like him), he’s also really comfortable in his own skin. And he’s got a lot of skin!


Please complete these sentences:

1. Jem and Scout really love each other. And they continue to love each other after they grow up too.

2. Reading is a way to see who we can be in the world.

3. Mr. Schu, you should have asked me...

Would you like to have your books banned if that would make them more popular?

Absolutely not. No. Never. Limiting access to books, art, music or ideas reflects a tremendous failure of trust, community, imagination, discourse, and civil society. It’s scary, destructive, and wrong. It also flies in the face of core American values. I hope that readers will understand that I Kill the Mockingbird does not portray a successful book banning campaign. Instead, it’s about the successful resistance to a (sort of) book banning campaign. From the beginning, Lucy, Elena and Michael trust, believe and plan to fail in the best possible ways.


I am giving away one copy of I Kill the Mockingbird

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 6/16 to 11:59 p.m. on 6/18. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 




Borrow I Kill the Mockingbird from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. If I don't win the giveaway - I'll be going to the bookstore to purchase a copy.

    ReplyDelete