5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Chis Barton

My son loves ABC books. I can remember him reading Dr. Seuss’s ABC to me about a million times when he was younger. Last summer when Chris Barton’s Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! came in the mail. He was mesmerized. Two of his favorite things, video games and alphabet books, were fused together in the ultimate mash-up.


I am very lucky to have the opportunity to interview the amazing Chris Barton on my blog today.


5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!?

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet takes a tongue-in-cheek but seriously informative look at the terminology of video games both past and present.

I was inspired by my own kids — by my desire to understand what the heck they were talking about when they referred to mods and sandboxes while discussing Minecraft.

I saw Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! as a way to help novice gamers get up to speed while giving kids with more experience on a console a better sense of the breadth and depth of gaming culture and history.

I couldn’t have asked for a better illustrator for this project than Joey Spiotto, who made such a splash with his Little Golden Book homages to Super Mario Bros., Portal and the like.

It was important to Joey and me and our publisher, POW!, that Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! reflect the diversity of kids who love video games — which, based on my research at school visits, is approximately 100% — so I’m especially proud of how this book turned out in that respect.


4. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

I get to be part of a community that loves and understands the thrill of connecting with kids through books.

Librarians, booksellers, editors, illustrators, other authors — I’m a little biased, but I think they’re among the best people in the world.

They encourage and inspire me each step of the way, and I hope I manage to provide some of that in return.

I’m so lucky to be able to count so many of them as my friends — and to get to see them and be in touch with them so much just in the course of doing my job.

S is for Sandbox

3. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?

Find a writing community, even if it’s just one other writer that you swap stories with.

Always have a notepad and pen with you so that you can capture your ideas whenever they come to you.

Long walks or runs — without headphones on — provide excellent opportunities to figure out how best to make a writing idea come to life.

2. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?

I’d spend a day among the characters in Revenge of the Flower Girls (Scholastic, 2014), written by my wife, Jennifer Ziegler.

I’ve gotten so attached to the Brewster triplets — especially since I’ve read the manuscript for the sequel, Revenge of the Angels — and would love to witness Dawn, Darby, and Delaney hilariously righting the things that go wrong among their family, friends, and neighbors.

1. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

Concentrating on just one story at a time, because there are so many stories — and so many types of stories — I’m eager to tell.


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