Michael Buckley, author of two children's book series, "The Sisters Grimm" and "N.E.R.D.S," discusses inspiration, his favorite place to write, and what "cliff hangering" is. This video is part of the NBC Learn original series "Writers Speak to Kids."
Writers Speak to Kids- Michael Buckley
JENNA BUSH HAGER, reporting:
What inspires you?
MICHAEL BUCKLEY: I wanted to write “The Sisters Grimm” because I went to a bookstore, and I discovered there's only two kinds of books. There's books for boys, were the boy rides a dragon and, fights a monster, and goes to wizarding school, and then there's books for girls, where the girl takes care of pony. And I just didn't think that was fair. You would think that there would be a lot more books where girls are really saving the world, like doing the things boys get to do. Unfortunately, they're usually relegated to the side kick or the person that's driving the hero crazy, and I just thought, you know, I don`t know little girls who would pick, a pony over dragon ride.
BUSH HAGER: Where do you like to write?
BUCKLEY: One of my favorite places to write is Coney Island here in New York City. It`s an amazing, very historic place filled with carnival rides. It's just dripping in history, and there’s so much life and culture and so many different kinds of faces and people. That I can't help but sit there and just type away. I can get lot done in Coney Island.
BUSH HAGER: How do you create characters?
BUCKLEY: When I`m writing about a character, I don`t necessary understand, I`ll get a bunch of celebrity magazines that have pictures of famous people and movie stars. And what I do, is cut out pictures of those movies stars, and I post them on the wall. A good example is in my books “The Sisters Grimm,” there’s a character known as Sleeping Beauty. And I wanted to write a sleeping beauty no one had ever seen before. So what I did was, I cut out pictures of Halle Berry, and I put them on the wall. And then another series I write is called “N.E.R.D.S.” about secret agents. One of the characters is guy name Agent Brand and he’s tough, and he’s strong, and he’s handsome. So I got a picturse of Jon Hamm, and I put him up on the wall. And when I look at those pictures, they seem to speak to me. And they actually help me figure out who my characters are. It`s neat little trick I do, but it seems to work every time.
BUSH HAGER: How do you keep a story moving?
BUCKLEY: What I like to do is thing called "cliff hangering." What I tend to do is, I end the chapter on a very exciting moment. So that person who`s reading it almost feels they have to the page. It`s something they do in comic books, actually, and I`ve learned a lot about writing from reading comic books. Every page ends on a cliff hanger. It may be a tiny cliff hanger, but it requires you to turn that page.
BUSH HAGER: How do you end a story?
BUCKLEY: The story is finished, often times when two things happened- the villain has been vanquished, and the character has changed so dramatically that they’re almost entirely different person. When you get to the point, your story is over. You written your character and in many ways, you have mended that character in to what he or she is supposed to be.
From a transgender teddy bear to a fearless girl pirate, children's authors are tackling gender norms like never before, as debate rages about what it means to be a boy or girl.