Chris Crowe was born in Danville, Illinois, and attended schools in Illinois, New Mexico, and California before his parents settled down in Tempe, Arizona, where he graduated from McKemy Junior High and McClintock High School. He attended Brigham Young University on a football scholarship (and played in the 1974 Fiesta Bowl) and earned a BA in English. He taught English at McClintock High for 10 years while attending Arizona State University part-time, earning his masters and doctorate degrees.
He is the author of several books, most notably MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955, which won several awards, including the 2003 International Reading Association’s Young Adult Novel Award. His nonfiction book, GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER: THE TRUE STORY OF THE EMMETT TILL CASE, was an Jane Addams Honor book. His most recent project was a children’s book, JUST AS GOOD: HOW LARRY DOBY CHANGED AMERICA’S GAME.
Chris married his high school sweetheart, and they live in Provo, Utah, where he works in the English department at BYU. They are the parents of four children and grandparents of four more. For more info, visit his website.
If you could live anywhere for one year, all expenses paid, where would you live?
That’s easy: London.
What was the worst smell you have ever smelled?
Rotten duck eggs.
If you could have one super human power, what would it be?
The ability to eat whatever I want, as much as I want, without any weight or cholesterol gain.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
My wife, Elizabeth. We met in our sophomore English class; she was the new girl at our school, and I was a real knucklehead. We got married at 19, and she has been a positive influence in every aspect of my life.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Retired from teaching, most likely, but still writing. And enjoying life with my wife, children, and grandchildren.
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
Reading. I’ve always loved reading, and sometime around 6th or 7th grade, it dawned on me that someone’s on the other side of the book I’m reading—and I wondered if someday I could be on that other side, the author’s side of a book.
What books are you reading right now?
Buzzkill and My Name is Africa.
Name someone who supported your writing journey outside of family members.
My good writing friend, Carol Lynch Williams, has given me great advice, encouragement, and support over the years. My next-door neighbor, children’s author Rick Walton, has also been a great friend and support. My teaching colleague, Jesse Crisler, has been a terrific reader and critic of early drafts.
What’s your favorite writing quote?
“The gun on the wall must be fired.”
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read. Read. Read.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I’d written a bunch of magazine articles and a weekly newspaper column—I wanted to see if I could sustain an entire book.
What books have most influenced your life?
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, The Hardy Boys series, most of Dr. Seuss. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
John H. Ritter.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing? What comes easily?
I lack the daily-grind discipline when I’m between projects. It’s so easy for me to be distracted by almost anything. I’m also a terrible plotter. Revision, most of the time, comes easy to me.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Mildred D. Taylor is one of my favorite authors. She crafts beautiful sentences and characters, uses history well, and tells stories of great significance. Jennifer Donnelly has similar qualities. And then there’s Markus Zuzak. What a masterpiece The Book Thief is!