Allan Stratton is the internationally acclaimed author of Chanda’s Secrets, winner of twenty-six awards and citations including the ALA’s Michael L. Printz Honor Book, the Children’s Africana Best Book Award and Booklist’s Editor’s Choice. The film version, Life, Above All, won the Prix François Chalais at the Cannes Film Festival and was South Africa’s Oscar entry for best foreign language film. Its sequel, Chanda’s Wars, won the CLA Young Adult Book Award and was a Junior Library Guild selection (USA). His most recent novel, Borderline, earned an American Library Association Best Fiction nod. All his books have been nominated for the White Pine Award. He lives in Toronto. For more info, visit his website.
Let the conversation begin!
What is your very favorite part of the day?
I like morning because the day is filled with challenges and possibilities. When I was in my twenties, though, I liked the middle of the night because it was so still and great for quiet walks. Mind you, I did get stopped by the police occasionally, because I was a bit scruffy back then and the best walks were through extremely nice neighborhoods.
How do you recharge your creative batteries?
I travel, usually with just a driver/guide. My favorite trips have been to Cambodia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, China, and Argentina. If I’m in Europe or North America I just kick around on my own: Rome, London, Paris, and New York are great walking cities; some of the smaller centers I love are Venice, Nice, Amsterdam and San Antonio. If I’m really burned out I just go south – Cayo Largo, a small coral island off the south coast of Cuba is my favorite place to dive and snorkel.
Best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write.
If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them?
I’d go of course. A buck is a buck. Experiences are irreplaceable.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
THE GRAVE ROBBER’S APPRENTICE has just come out. It’s lots of fun–a medieval fantasy about a boy washed ashore in jeweled box and adopted by a grave robber. Also, a young countess on the run from a bloodthirsty archduke, an evil necromancer, a circus of dancing bears, a wolf king and a mountain hermitage with monks who are not what they seem. Click here to see the book trailer.
Any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write because you love it, because it’s the most fun thing in the world, because you need to write as desperately as you need to breathe.
Is there anything you’d like to shout out to your readers?
THANK YOU FOR BEING THERE!
Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning?
Gosh no. I don’t want to disturb the cats.
Would you rather plan a party or attend one?
I’d rather plan a party because then I’d have something to do to keep my mind off being uncomfortable. Honestly, parties make me tense. I don’t drink and I hate small talk. I can talk to large crowds and feel confident and at ease, but put me in a cocktail party and my cheeks lock. (Both sets.)
Best party you’ve ever been to?
That would be any party back in my twenties when I was still drinking.
Of all your books, what was your favorite chapter to write?
Either the end of CHANDA’S SECRETS when Mrs. Tafa’s secret comes out or the demise of the Necromancer in my new book, THE GRAVE ROBBER’S APPRENTICE. In the first case, because I discovered Mrs. Tafa’s secret only as she told it to me, and it brought back all the friends I‘ve had who’ve died of AIDS; it was pretty emotional. In the second case, because the Necromancer’s grisly end (offstage) was such poetic justice it made me grin.
Do you come up with your book titles?
Yes. It’s as personal as naming a baby.
What is the easiest part of the writing process? Hardest?
Dialogue is the easiest for me, probably because I started as a playwright. Description is what I have to work at.
And that brings me to the end of the questions, so – thank you so much for getting the chance to connect with YOUR readers. I hope to see you all at my site, and to hear from you, too.