I don’t write about my day job on this blog too often, because my day job doesn’t have much to do with writing for children.
On rare occasions, however, I get lucky.
I draw my salary from The Lawrenceville School, editing and writing for The Lawrentian, the School’s alumni magazine. Not too long ago, I learned that Julian Thompson, the author of 20 YA books, was an alumnus, and, well, I just had to interview the guy.
I read Thompson’s young adult novel, The Grounding of Group 6, when I was an actual young adult. I remembered loving it, but, after 30 years, I couldn’t remember much else. All I could recall was a couple of basic plot points. I also recalled that the book had some dirty parts – which might have been why the 12-year-old me thought the book was so dang wonderful.
I gave Thompson a call and he could not have been more gracious. He happily agreed to sit for an interview. In preparation, I reread Grounding and found it to be every bit as good as I had remembered. And yes, the dirty parts are still a little dirty – but not nearly as dirty as my memory had led me to believe, which is kind of a relief, really.
Whew! I thought. Thompson is not the Henry Miller of middle school lit!
For those of you who might be interested, I am posting a PDF of the story below. I don’t think the finished article is a great piece of magazine writing by any stretch, but I do think it is as good a way as any to remember a fine writer and a generous human being.
Julian Thompson: Grounded by Experience
39 Replies to “You’re Grounded!”
Great article, Mike! My son would surely love to read his work in a year or two. Thanks for showcasing the work of this cool dude.
How is Sarah Joseph Hale doing this fine fall season?
Thompson is indeed a cool dude. He and I traded inscribed books — and he could not have been more complimentary of Sarah Gives Thanks.
Sarah is doing quite well this fine fall season. Sarah’s author, on the other hand, has never been more exhausted. I haven’t had much of a chance to promote my book this year, and that’s probably just as well. Rumor has it that it will go to paperback in 2015; if this is true, I shall renew my shameless promotional efforts with renewed vigor.
Woohoo! Rest up, now, so you’ll be ready.
This is a wonderful article. I haven’t heard of this book. Thanks for the eye-opener. What an interesting personality Julian Thompson is, 🙂
Thompson is a pretty selfless, that is true. I’m so very glad I could promote him a bit.
It’s a wonderful article and I did indeed learn something new. Thank you for sharing.
Great article! I am so fond of my favorite YA authors and will forever be grateful for their imaginations.
Writers for children do play quite a role in shaping how we view the world, don’t they?
Great article, Mike! Very interesting! I’m not familiar with The Grounding Of Group 6, but it sounds great… and I’ll want to be sure to read it BEFORE the movie comes out 🙂
You might have a little time to do that. I have since heard that principal photography on the movie has been delayed. Stay tuned…
“Avuncular regrets” Whew! I had to look that one up. Perfect.
I think I got too cute by half with that phrase.
Is there an auntcular counterpoint out there?
If there isn’t, there should be.
We could add nephewtism to the batch as well.
This is so cool! Seems like you had a super sweet experience to me. I wonder if I’ll ever get to interview my favorite childhood writers.
Who says you can’t? Track them down! I have yet to meet a writer who didn’t appreciate hearing from his or her fans.
I remember Grounding!
I remember asking my dad whether he’d ever send me to a school to be fixed or murdered. He said, “Of course not” and asked me why I’d asked. I showed him the book and he gave me a hug and told me I didn’t need to be fixed.
And then my Dad the psychologist said, “And I’ll bet those kinds of schools are pretty expensive, anyway.”
Your dad is hilarious.
And he’s right; we love you just the way you are, Sarah!
One summer at camp, I pulled that book off a musty library shelf. I was riveted. I was about to the middle of it when another camper snatched it out my hand, telling me it was her personal property; it shouldn’t have been in the library. The pain of that loss still smarts! Thanks to Amazon and your reminder, I can finally find out how it ends.
Wonderful! You made my morning with this news. Enjoy it! (You might wanna check out a few of Thompson’s other titles, too.)
Grounding is no longer available through the original publisher, but Thompson owns the copyright and has taken the liberty to reprint the book independently.
There’s so much to learn from writers like that. I’m sure he was happy to share with you.
Writers are generous people!
I don’t know the book, but will look for it. Was most fascinated by the photo with the article. Liked the glass doo-dad on his side table, and totally fascinated by his framed collection of NYT headlines…
Leave it to you, Cathy, to ignore the article in lieu of the guy’s interior decorating skills.
Ahem…From September 22, 2013 heylookawriterfellow:
“It was a kind of epiphany for me. From that day forward, whenever I create a character for a story, I always consider the types of things he or she might own. I have found that a well-placed tchotchke can speak volumes about a character – even before the character has an opportunity to say or do anything.”
Dangit! Entrapped by my own bloggy words!
Cool interview and great life story. When I worked in corporate, I remember having mentors look both ways and then whisper with eyes wide: “You have to get out of here before you’re trapped forever.” It was finance dystopian:)
Finance Dystopian. I think you just discovered a new literary genre.
(Please insert parody titles here. I’ll wait.)
Great article! 😀 So, the movie came out last summer, if I read your article correctly?
Nope. The filming was to take place this past summer.
I have since heard, however, that the production has been delayed for some reason. Here’s hoping things will get going soon. Grounding is a very cinematic story.
Fab article, sounds like a really interesting guy and an interesting book! Any parts for me in the movie do you think?
You could be one of the teenagers!
Ah! I was just telling a friend about this book! I must have read it a dozen times as a kid (and dog-eared the dirty bits) but could not remember the author or title—though I’d swear there’s a hippie chick named Marigold running around in the woods, dodging bullets.
You’ve made me so happy. I’m off to order a copy.
Wonderful! And you’re right about Marigold. Quite the pistol, that one.
I was riveted to your article, and I have a feeling that you, the author of the article, were riveted to Thompson when you interviewed him. I have a feeling that you related to his experiences, his hopes to ‘never regret,’ and his journey to success. I have a feeling you may follow a similar path.
Thompson and I had a wonderful conversation. Since the guy is a teacher, a writer, and a genuinely curious fellow, we took turns asking questions of each other. Out of the thousand or so people I’ve interviewed for publication Thompson easily makes it into my top three favorites.
This is so cool on many levels. That you reached out to a fellow Lawrentian alum was awesome. That he was a writer and failed at first was real. But mostly I liked his viewpoint of not having regrets and just doing it. I am sure he was thrilled to have had your interest…and I’ll look for that movie when it comes out!
Thanks, my friend. I, too, look forward to the movie. It is a long time in coming!