Author Interview -- Chris Crowe
June 5, 2003
Chris Crowe teaches English at BYU. He's been married to his wonderful wife, Elizabeth, for almost 30 years, and two of their four children are still teenagers. His most recent book is GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER: THE TRUE STORY OF THE EMMETT TILL CASE. His novel, MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955, was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and won the 2003 International Reading Association's Children's Book Award in Young Adult Fiction.
1. Why did you decided to become a writer?
My real inspiration has been my two mentors, Rick Walton and Carol Lynch Williams. These two authors live fabulously Rich and Famous lives, wallowing daily in riches and fame. I've always wanted to be like them, at least, the rich and famous part. Unfortunately, I've not seen any glimpse of richness or famousness in my own life, so maybe I'll give up.
In addition to my lust for power, wealth, and fame, and my deep envy of Rick and Carol, I've always loved words, stories, and books; that's why I became an English teacher. As a writer, even if I don't get to wallow in wealth and notoriety, I do get to wallow in words, stories, and books.
2. Who is your favorite character that you have written?
I have three: one is Carrie Jo, a tough basketball player in a short story I published a few years ago. The other two are Ralph and Ronnie Remington, two slightly addled brothers in Mississippi Trial, 1955. I had lots of fun with these two loopy guys. Everytime they showed up in a scene, the writing just took off by itself.
3. If you could change one thing about being a writer, what would it be?
The typing. I never really learned how to type, so I use a modified hunt and peck method, poking at the keyboard with four fingers instead of 10. And I make lots of typos.
4. Do you remember the first piece of fiction you wrote?
No. I've been writing fiction for too long. My first published piece of fiction was "Watching Big Brother." It appeared in The New Era back in 1988.
5. Who are your favorite authors?
Well, Carol and Rick, of course. I've always loved Mildred D. Taylor's books and everything Katherine Paterson has written. Those two just never seem to get a word or a detail wrong.
6. Do you have any specific goals as a writer?
My goal is to write books that are worth reading, books that teenagers will be glad they read.
7. What was your favorite book as a child?
I had too many to list here. Most of Dr. Seuss' books, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Danny and the Dinosaur. When I was older, I loved books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne.
8. What are you working on now?
I've got two projects: the first is COVERING ALL THE BASES: YOUNG ADULT SPORTS LITERATURE. It's a book for teachers and librarians and for interested kids. The other project is a young adult novel, LIFE W/O LIPS. It's a funny (I hope) novel about a high school kid who's incredibly unlucky at love.
9. Do you ever write about Utah?
No, at least not yet.
10. What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Besides the typing? For me it's the discipline of sitting down and writing. I've got so many other demands on me that it's often hard to push writing to the front. Writing is hard work, so it's easy to find lots of other things to take its place.
11. What's the easiest thing about being a writer?
Talking about my books.
12. What good advice do you have for people who want to be writers?
Don't believe the compliments of family and close friends who respond to your writing drafts. While it's nice to hear good things about a manuscript, if you really want to make your writing better, you need to hear what's not working, what needs clarification, what needs polish. Related to that, a bit of advice I learned from John Ritter: 'Don't let an editor be the first person to see your writing.' Editors don't have time to fix your writing flaws. You should send your very best work to an editor.
For more about Chris, check out his website at www.chriscrowe.com.
UCWI Interviews children's author-- Chris Crowe.
This interview first appeared in the UCWI Newsletter