Share this article via Facebook or Twitter for your chance to win two tickets to see Gordon on October 26! Don’t forget to tag @IFOA or use #IFOA2013. Good luck!
Gordon Korman: Not at all. My first book was sort of a happy accident. In my school, the track and field coach had to teach language arts. For creative writing, he just told us to work on whatever we wanted for the rest of the year. I wrote This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall!, which was published a year and a half later when I was 14.
IFOA: In your new novel, The Hypnotists, you introduce readers to young Jackson Opus, who comes from a long line of hypnotists. What sparked your interest in hypnotism?
Korman: I’ve never been hypnotized, but a good friend of mine is a licensed hypnotherapist in California. He says we’ve all been hypnotized without even knowing it. You know when you’re driving on a familiar route and you zone out and lose track of where you are? That’s the equivalent of a hypnotic state. My friend would induce that to make patients more receptive to, let’s say, a suggestion on how to overcome the fear of flying.
For The Hypnotists, I wanted to up the ante and create a true paranormal ability. But I’ve never written much fantasy, so I didn’t really have the tools. Where I do have a lot of experience is research-based adventure series like Everest and Titanic. So I got the idea to create my own concrete “rules of mesmerism” and substitute them for my research.
IFOA: Where do you look for inspiration when creating the characters in your books?
Korman: Unlike many writers, it’s quite rare for me to base characters on friends or family members. For me, characters are mostly about the choices they make. So I try to immerse myself in the world of my story and face the kinds of choices my people will have to make. For example, for Jackson Opus in The Hypnotists, it was “how would a kid handle the power to make people do whatever he wants them to?” And, of course, just as he’s wrapping his mind around the tasty possibilities, it starts to sink in that nothing less than the fate of the world just might be riding on how he chooses to use his unique gift.
IFOA: What would you say is the best thing about being an author of children’s and young adult books?
Korman: The fans. First of all, you couldn’t ask for a more honest audience. If they like what you’re doing, you know it. If they don’t, you know it even better. They’re also incredibly loyal. On my website, I get a remarkable number of posts from “old” fans of my early novels. They’re now in their thirties and forties, yet they’ve stuck with my books through the decades, even as they’ve grown up, started families and built careers. That’s something I never could have imagined. The Macdonald Hall generation has grown up—and now they’re in charge!
IFOA: Name one thing on your bucket list.
Korman: Mount Everest. When I was writing the Everest trilogy, I got hooked, and now I’m obsessed with the idea of seeing the real thing. I don’t think I’d ever attempt to climb the mountain, but there are treks in the region that take you to base camp, and I’m determined to get there someday.
Gordon Korman is a New York Times-bestselling and award-winning author. He will be reading from and discussing The Hypnotists on October 26 at 11am with Kids’ CBC host Patty Sulliban.