Korman Still Going Strong After 40 Years

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Imagine getting a book published when you’re 14. Gordon Korman did. Now, he is a No. 1 “New York Times” bestselling author of more than 80 books for middle-grade kids and young adults, including the Swindle series, a few 39 Clues books and his newest series, Masterminds. Korman was a featured speaker at the 49th annual CCIRA conference on literacy on February 6, where he promoted the just-released “Criminal Destiny,” his second Masterminds book.

He wrote his first book, “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall,” in 7th grade as a project for his English class. His teacher wanted to laminate his book and put it in the school library. “What he was saying was that ‘what you’ve written is good enough for other people to read,’” Korman said. “That’s where I got the idea to get it published.” At the time, he was the class auditor for the Scholastic book order forms. He decided to send his book to the return address on the form, and two years later, he was signing a contract with Scholastic.

It took Korman until college to realize he wanted to write full time. This year is the 40th anniversary of Korman’s first book, and he basically writes every day from about 9:30 to 5:30.

Korman writes both adventure and humorous books. He pretty much likes writing both equally, but if forced to choose, he said, “I’d say comedy is kind of my first love, like what I started with. … I wouldn’t say writing adventure is easier, but there’s less pressure to be funny. A funny book has to have payoffs.”

His book “Ungifted” had payoffs for both readers and Korman. It won CCIRA’s 2015 Junior Books Award, for which Korman was honored at the conference. Korman also presented CCIRA’s Young Writers’ Award to recognize 15 students in grades 1-12 for outstanding writing. Who knows? Maybe one of those award winners will end up like Korman and get a book contract in a few years.