Author Allan Woodrow stopped by OOM today to tell us about his new middle grade book Unschooled, the activities he participated in growing up, and three things his readers may not know about him! Check it out below!
In the book best friends George and Lilly are split up for their school’s Spirit Week and chaos soon ensues with pranks against each other. Were you a prankster in school or have a similar school rivalry like the characters in the book?
As a kid I was completely prank and rivalry-free. I was quiet, raised my hand in class, ate with my mouth closed, etc. etc. My parents and teachers had it pretty easy with me. Maybe that’s why I write about pranking, chaotic kids…I’m living out the childhood I never had.
About the only thing I ever did was sit near the back and whisper funny things to a friend, and sometimes that friend would blurt what I said and everyone would laugh and think my friend was the funniest person ever. But I didn’t mind…I was a much better comedy writer than stand-up comic. The same thing is true today. If you hung out with me, you might find me fairly boring. But I’d be thinking really funny things, and when I got home I’d write them all down and maybe they’d pop up in a book someday.
After being split up for Spirit Week George is leading Team Blue and Lilly is leading Team Red. Which team would you like to be on and why?
Team Red all the way. In Unschooled, George is the leader of Team Blue, but he isn’t very competitive. His team does well because he’s organized and plans well. Lilly is the Team Red captain, and she’s ultracompetitive. She hates, hates, hates to lose—and that’s me. We can’t play board games at home because I get too serious about the game. I don’t cheat, though…at least not usually…so I’m not sure if I’d be excited playing with some of the kids on Lilly’s team that bend the rules a bit. But at least they’d be bending the rules to win.
I used to have a sign in my office, which I thought was funny, but also somewhat true for me:
It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose.
It matters whether I win or lose.
I wonder where that sign is now. I haven’t seen it in a while. I should poke around my basement and put that sign back on my wall.
Back to school season is officially in full swing! What was your favorite part of going back to school? Were you part of any teams or clubs growing up?
I never had a favorite part of going back to school. I didn’t hate going—I wasn’t one of those kids throwing a tantrum or pretending to be sick—but I always wanted summer vacation to go on forever. Where and when I grew up kids didn’t do much over the summer. I only went to camp one year, and that was only for one week. I spent summers playing baseball or kickball or Free the Bunch or Capture the Flag or a million other games with all the other kids in the neighborhood. We built tree houses. We raced bikes. Our subdivision was newish, so houses were always being built and we’d run around the large holes where a basement was going to be, or play tag in the half-finished rooms, hoping not to step on a nail. There was one game we played, where we stood across a field and threw giant rocks at each other. I have no idea how I’m still alive today.
After school, I played park recreation baseball and football—they didn’t have organized travel sport teams like they do now, at least not for elementary-school kids where I lived. I loved baseball, but I was pretty horrible at it. Still, I played every chance I had. And when I didn’t play sports or throw rocks at my friends, I was probably writing. Even then, I loved to make up stories and write. Most of my stories featured giant monsters destroying cities, which is very different from the sorts of things I write now.
Bonus Question: What are three things your readers don’t know about you?
- I used to own a soup restaurant.
- I cannot whistle. Never have. I’ve always wished I could.
- I love sports. I don’t play them much anymore, but if I’m home and not writing, I’m probably watching a baseball, football or basketball game.