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29 April 2013

Interview Howard Shapiro

1) How and why have you started to write? Were there something or someone that gave you an impulse?

I've been writing off and on since I was about 8 years old. I loved the "Encyclopedia Brown" books when I was that age and that started my love of reading. I also wanted to be a sportswriter back then and so I kind of focused on that in school. Eventually, I kind of migrated onto songwriting and then because that was difficult, I moved onto short story and novella writing. So, writing has always been something I enjoyed doing but didn't really become serious about trying to get published until I was 40. The impulse to try and get published came from my Dad being very sick and I wanted to get my first book out before he passed away so that he could see it and hold it. I feel very fortunate that he was able to do that.

2) Tell me something about your book The Stereotypical Freaks .

Thanks, "The Stereotypical Freaks" is a very special story to me. It was inspired by a young man named John Challis who died from cancer but his courage and wisdom at such a young age (18) inspired me to create a character (Jacoby) who had that same spirit and who I could build a story around. I tend to write a lot about friendship and interpersonal relationships and I had become obsessed with graphic novels and so I decided to find an illustrator and bring this story to life. Its about four very diverse high school seniors who are united by a love of music and that love of music bonds them as they try and win a battle of bands at their school. There is a twist in the story and it causes the guys in the band to reassess their friendship and their lives in general. The book has received very positive reviews in magazines such as Library Journal, School Library Journal, VOYA and Library Media Connection.

3) While youre writing, have you discovered a character that you where developing feelings of love for? And was there a character that gave you headaches?

Excellent question!! Actually, throughout my 5 books one character has been consistent through them and that is character I named Tom Leonard in honor of my good friend Tom Cochrane and my late dad (Arnold Leonard Shapiro) and throughout the books, Tom has grown up. Basically, the character was created as an extension of myself. From his adolescent years throughout high school (and onto to College in the sequel to "Freaks") Tom is me and I am him! But all of the characters are like my kids and so I love them all, even the bad guys, as they all played a role in some ways in my real life. So, I couldn't really say any of them gave me headaches... they are all a joy to write and I try to write them all to NOT be one note... I like them all to have depth and when the reader thinks they will act one way, I try to make them act differently!

4) How have you done your research for this novel?

I actually did some research about the area Jacoby comes from (Nunavut in Canada). That was really about it, most of the story was mapped out and the story was basically written before we started with the artwork.

5) Is there a book that inspired your writings?

Good question, everything I write could be traced back to "Catcher in the Rye"... its is my favorite book of all time and everything I do will always be because I read and so loved "Catcher in the Rye" when I was 16. I am also very inspired by Neil Gaiman's work, as well as two graphic novelists, Neill Kleidd and Gipi.

6) In the end, would you like say some words to your fans from Romania?

I'd like to say thank you so much to everyone in Romania who has taken the time to check out any of my books! It's a great honor and privilege for me to be able to share those stories with you. If anyone would like to contact me, please feel free to do so at Very special thanks to you, Simona, for the opportunity to reach out to your fans and readers! Hope to talk to you guys further on up the road!

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