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D.J. MacHale Interview (pg. 2)

D.J. MacHale is the author of the Pendragon series and the director of Flight 29 Down.
C/O Simon & Schuster

Sindy: You got your start in television - what made you want to write novels?
D.J. MacHale: I always say that writers don't find stories; stories find writers. So when I came up with the idea for Pendragon, it just didn't feel right for it to be a TV script or a movie, and I'd never written a novel before, and also - though I'm a writer and I've been a writer forever - the people who it's intended for - the kids out there - never really get a chance to read what I write, they only see on-screen what I do, so I thought it was kind of a fun challenge to be able to write words that kids are going to read for a change.

Sindy: You were a writer for Ghostwriter and Are You Afraid of the Dark? in the '90s. Do you find it any different writing for kids today?
D.J. MacHale: Nope - I mean the specifics may be different - but the bottom line is that you still have to have good characters and a good adventure. Kids are the same no matter what era it is. I write to kids of all ages. I have adults reading my books or watching my show, but I also have little kids watching. I think the bottom line is that you have good characters and good stories that transcends any era.

Sindy: You also write and direct Flight 29 Down. How do you balance all of that with your career as an author? That's a lot of work.
D.J. MacHale: AND, on top of everything else, I have a daughter who's about to turn four. So these past few years have been very busy. What I've been doing these past three years is that half of my year is spent making Flight 29 Down and the other half of the year is spent working on the books. It's kind of fun, so it feels like I have two different jobs - both are very different - but they're the same in the sense that they're storytelling. Writing a novel is quite solitary, but directing Flight 29 Down is out on a beach with a lot of crew and actors and it's a lot of fun.

Sindy: A lot of those actors are kids. What's it like working with them?
D.J. MacHale: Well they're all ages - they range from nine up to 24 - but I love working with kids because they so want to give you what you want. And they love working on the show, especially a show like Flight 29 Down because we're on a beach in Hawaii. How bad can that be? When I worked on Are You Afraid of the Dark for all those years, I got to have kids running away from monsters and mummies and ghosts and all that stuff, and it was just so much fun.

Sindy: What is it that appeals to you about kids' television and fiction?
D.J. MacHale: Stephen King once said, when he was asked why he writes horror, that it's "just what comes out" and I feel the same way. These are just the stories that I have to tell.

Sindy: What advice would you give to young people who are interested in becoming writers themselves?
D.J. MacHale: I have lots! The number one piece of advice is that you have to write about things you know. You have to write about people and places, and events and emotions that you know, because if you know it, it will be true and people will respond to it. You also have to read a lot. You have to see all different styles of writing and understand the language of writing in order to be able to do it yourself. You have to practice a lot, a lot, a lot. You have to be writing all the time. The more you write, the better you'll get. Even if no one ever reads a particular thing you're writing, you just have to write a lot. The final thing is, people often ask me, "Should I go to school to be a writer?" and I say "No. Go to school to learn about everything else there is to know about, and then write about it."

  • Click here to see what D.J. MacHale has to say about the latest book in the Pendragon series.
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