Monday, July 2, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Author Interview

Happy Middle Grade Monday!! After taking a short break from MKs I'm back and thrilled to have author Chris Grabenstein on the blog to talk about his recent release, Riley Mack, released on April 10th, 2012 by Harper Collins.

About the book:

When former improvisational comedian and screenwriter turned award-winning mystery author Chris Grabenstein writes a kid's book, he delivers page-turning plot twists, pitch-perfect dialogue, and one-liners that pepper the text like exploding firecrackers. Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers, the first book in a hilarious new action-adventure series, is a classic crime caper, a funny, fast-paced mystery/comedy with lovable characters, non-stop action—and a barnful of dogs.

Seventh-grade mastermind Riley Mack and his best buds always come to the rescue when family or friends are in trouble, even if it takes some high-octane subterfuge and fifty pounds of dog food. Kids ages 8-12 will root for Riley and his "Gnat Pack": tech-savvy Jake, dramatic Brianna, big-guy Mongo, and brainy Jamal. They'll hiss for the bad guys, too—the bully Gavin Brown; his father, Fairview's crooked police chief; his conniving grandmother, who runs a filthy puppy mill; and Fairview's gambling-addicted bank manager, who tries to frame Riley's mom. Throw in one stolen goldendoodle, two bumbling bank robbers, and plenty of duct tape, and the action never flags.

Riley Mack and the Other Known Troublemakers will have readers snorting soda out their noses, proving once again that Grabenstein is a master at concocting irresistible stories for middle-grade readers- quoted from Goodreads

Riley Mack is a fun character to read about. What's one thing you and Riley have in common?

Well, I created Riley to be the kid I always wish I could have been (but wasn't).   However, we do share one thing in common: We both like to stand up for what's right even when some people say it is wrong.

What inspired you to write Riley's story?

I saw a group of middle schoolers walking down the sidewalks of New York,  carrying backpacks so heavy they looked like they were loaded down with cinderblocks.  I thought, what if, instead of books and homework, these kids have all sorts of spy gadgets and electronic gear in their backpacks and, after school, they go on missions like the IMF team on one of my favorite TV shows from when I was a tween MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.

I love the fun mix of characters you have in Riley's story. You have your every day kids, a bully, lots of dogs and a couple bank robbers. What group of characters, or character did you have the most fun writing?

I think I had the most fun writing the character of Briana, the very theatrical actress who is a vital member of Riley's crew.   In my youth, I spent a lot of time doing plays.  I knew many, many Brianas!

What was your favorite scene or chapter to write?

My favorite scene to write was probably the "Puppy Mill Caper."   I love how Briana fools the evil owner while Riley and the guys free all the dogs.

What were some of your favorite books to read growing up, and how did those books influence you as a reader/writer?

My favorite books growing up were MAD books -- compilations of the magazine's greatest hits.   From age 10 on, I think Mad gave me a keen sense of satire and knocking the stuffing out of pompous people/things.   As a grownup, I love the Dortmunder caper series written by the late Donald Westlake (THE HOT ROCK, etc.) and, in some ways, fashioned RILEY to be a Dortmunder comic caper series for younger readers.

Thank you for stopping Mundie Kids today Chris! 
Thanks for reading and reviewing the book!

Be sure to follow Chris on his: Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Purchase Riley Mack from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | HarperCollins Children's

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly feature started by MG author Shannon Messenger and is a weekly post featuring an upcoming MG release, a MG Author Interview or a MG review. You can find out more about this series posts, and find links to author authors and bloggers who are taking part in this feature here. You can also my Must Have Middle Grade Reads feature on Mundie Moms

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this book. I reviewed it a couple months ago for the Sacramento Book Review. If you are interested, you can see my review here:


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~