AF: Anthony Fredericks NF: Nickie Finnegan
NF: Can you tell me about your family and your childhood?
AF: I grew up in California. I went to school in Arizona, and I now live in Pennsylvania. I have two younger sisters. One still lives in California and one lives in Florida. I now live in Pennsylvania with my wife, and we've been married for 40 years. I have a daughter who lives in England, and a son who lives in Colorado. We have a big, fat cat, and his name is Tubby.
NF: Do you ever get writer's block, and if you do, how do you deal with it?
AF: Yes, I do get writer's block, but usually the way I deal with writer's block is I'm usually writing about 3 or 4 books at the same time, so if I get stuck on the manuscript of one book, I'll shift over to another book that is on a different subject or a different theme. That helps me get out of my writer's block because I'm thinking in a whole different way. So, for me, writing several different stories at the same time helps keep writer's block away. But I do get if, just like all authors.
NF: I saw your book "Frantic Frogs and Other Frankly Fractured Folktales" for Reader's Theatre. Can you tell me about it because it looked really interesting.
AF: I've written about 15 Reader's Theatre books. I love Reader's Theatre because it's a wonderful opportunity for kids really to become characters in stories. You get to act out stories as though you're one of the main characters. The kids don't have to worry about memorizing a script because they're holding onto one. So I've found it a wonderful way to get kids excited about reading, to get them excited about story characters and how stories develop. One of the interesting things I have also found is when kids get into Reader's Theatre, they want to begin writing their own Reader's Theatre script. They want to do some more writing, and then eventually they want to start writing their own stories. I've found that Reader's Theatre is a wonderful way to help kids get excited about reading and writing.
NF: Do you write books mostly for kids?
AF: I write books for kids, I write books for teachers, I am also writing books for adults like a dinosaur book that will be coming out this spring called Walking With Dinosaurs. I've also written some college textbooks I have written about 120 books in all. A lot of books!
NF: What do you think your favorite genre to write is?
AF: Nonfiction. All of my children's except for one are nonfiction. I like nonfiction because for me I find it much more challenging than fiction because I can't just report facts, I have to make the facts interesting. I have to put them in some kind of story that makes people want to read them. So I found this kind of writing is much harder than, say, writing a fiction book.
NF: How did you get started writing?
AF: I got started writing when I was in 2nd grade. I had a teacher who wanted all of the 2nd graders to write, and the first story I wrote was a story called 'The Ghost Dog,' and I got an A on the story. I still have that story up in my attic. Then I had a really good teacher in 6th grade, Mrs. McDonald, who made us write every day in journals and notebooks. So I've just had a lot of good teachers who have encouraged me to continue writing books. I've been writing ever since.
NF: What are some of your other hobbies besides writing?
AF: Hiking, visiting Colorado, and scubadiving.
NF: Who is your favorite author?
AF: I've got so many favorite authors. Avi, Eric Carl, Cynthia Rylant, Mike Thaler. I've got all different kinds of favorite authors in all different kinds of genres.
NF: Finally, what advice do you have for young writers?
AF: To make writing something that you do every day. If you want to be a good writer, you have to practice all the time. You know Toni Hawk? He's a pretty good skate boarder. Right? Well, how do you think he got to be a good skate boarder? Practice! I write for 3 hours minimum every day. I get up at 5:00 A.M., and I write every morning. Every day. It doesn't make a difference what day it is. I write all the time. If you're going to be a good writer, you can't just do it once a week or twice a month. It has to be every single day. If you want to be the best, you've got to practice all the time.