Today we're excited to chat with Gennifer Choldenko, author of Al Capone Throws Me a Curve. Read on for more about Gennifer and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Gennifer Choldenko!
Gennifer Choldenko was the youngest in a family of four kids, where her nickname was “Snot-Nose.” Her quirky sense of humor made its debut at the dinner table when Gennifer was a very little kid. She is the author of seven children’s books, including Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period; and Al Capone Shines My Shoes.
Return to Al Capone's Alcatraz with Newbery Honor-winning author Gennifer Choldenko in this charming addition to the beloved series about the son of a prison guard.
Moose Flanagan lives on a famous island in California: Alcatraz, home to some of the most dangerous prisoners in the United States in the 1930s. It's the summer before he starts high school, and Moose is going to play a lot of baseball and win a spot on the high school team. But he still needs to watch his special older sister, Natalie--and then the warden asks Moose to look after his two-faced, danger-loving daughter, Piper.
In the cell house there are rumors that the cons will a strike, and that Moose's father might step up to a new job. Moose is worried: What will this mean for their family, especially for Natalie, who's had some scary run-ins with prisoners? Then the unthinkable happens: Natalie winds up someplace she should never, ever go. And Moose has to rescue her.
Don't miss the rest of the Tales from Alcatraz series!
Al Capone Does My Shirts
Al Capone Shines My Shoes
Al Capone Does My Homework
A Chat with Gennifer Choldenko:
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The inspiration for Al Capone Throws Me a Curve came out of book #3: Al Capone Does My Homework. I loved the ending for that book, but it wasn’t the ending I wanted for the series. I wanted to explore the idea of freedom more than I have in the other Tales from Alcatraz. I thought a lot about what freedom would mean for Moose, for Natalie and for Fastball. Expressing these ideas in a page-turning middle grade novel was a tall order. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into getting this book right.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book?
Every day I have a different answer to this question. Today I would say Natalie is my favorite because I think she struggles more than anyone else. But her struggle is invisible to most people. What is effortless to you and I is a battle for her. So, she doesn’t get the credit she deserves.
3. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I love all the scenes with the guy on Moose’s baseball team: Passerini and Natalie. Passerini is a cool guy with a kind heart. I respect how he handled Natalie. But my very favorite scene is definitely the last one. I love the ending!
4. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The most important thing I learned early on, is don’t give up. Keep trying to improve your craft. It’s all about upping your game. That’s still what I tell myself. The challenges are different, now, but I get up every morning and try my best to make the manuscript I’m working on a little stronger than it was the day before. And I devour books on writing craft.
5. What’s up next for you?
In January, One Third Nerd, the first book in an illustrated book series will launch. One Third Nerd is my funniest novel so far and though still middle grade, it skews younger than the Tales from Alcatraz series. Eglantine Ceulemans did a fantastic job catching the indomitable spirit of the characters. Her illustrations crack me up. In 2020 I’m hoping working title:Orphan #11 will launch. I’m not sure if Orphan #11 is the beginning of a series or a stand-alone novel.
I have so many ideas for novels. If only I had time to write them all!
6. Is there anything that you would like to add?
I always do a lot of revision, but I’ve never dumped an entire draft and started over from scratch before. Never until now that is. In 2016, I threw out two hundred and fifty pages and began again. I am so happy I did. Al Capone Throws Me a Curve is every bit the book I wanted it to be.
7. Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
One of the antagonists: Darby Trixle gave me the most trouble. I spent a lot of time trying to understand him on a deeper level. But in the end that work wasn’t helpful. At least not directly. While I was thinking about Darby, his wife: Bea Trixle took over. She is undoubtedly the most powerful antagonist I’ve ever created. Sometimes she makes observations that are spot on and she says things that need to be said. So, you think you might like her. But then it turns out, well I won’t tell you how it turns out . . .
8. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
My license plate is: REWRITZ. I think that’s all I need to say.
9. What would you say is your superpower?
I’m quiet and unassuming. I look like the last person you would expect to be able to read your mind. But I can. And I do.
Al Capone Throws Me a Curve
By: Gennifer Choldenko
Release Date: May 8, 2018