Friday, October 14, 2016

Interview with Bill Konigsberg, YSS Luncheon Speaker at WLA 2016

Submitted by Ashley Bieber, Teen Services Coordinator
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire, WI

YSS Past-Chair, Ashley Bieber, interviewed author Bill Konigsberg, in advance of his appearance as YSS luncheon speaker at this year's WLA conference. She also shared this link of his Banned Books Week 2016 Virtual Read Out! video on YouTube.

So, Bill, you're coming to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks - have you ever been to Milwaukee?  

What do you expect to find?  And what are your feelings about cheese curds?

I have been to Milwaukee, yes. I used to travel as part of a softball team, and we went to several tournaments in Milwaukee in the 90s. I think of Milwaukee as a Pittsburgh kind of town--nice mix of blue and white collar people, diverse in lots of ways. I admit I have a weakness for midwesterners, so that helps, too... I married a South Dakotan. I think it's that repressed thing that some midwesterners have that I am attracted to. It's yin and yang, you know? I'm the kind of person who has never had a thought I didn't think I ought to express, so I guess midwesterners find me kind of ... amusing? I don't know. I love all things cheese, but I can't say that cheese curds are at the top of my list. I'll eat them, but they aren't my fave. But you melt pretty much any kind of cheese in a nice bowl of chili and I'm a very happy guy.

You must meet a lot of librarians across the country - do you have any impressions of us as a group?  (careful with this one, haha!)

Well that one is easy... I adore librarians. How can you not adore a group of people who are so devoted to books, who are so well read? It's hard not to find something to talk to with any librarian, because, unlike the general public, you can always fall back on, "So, read any good books lately?" They will most certainly have an answer! Joking aside, librarians are my heroes because I believe that young people who read are the solution, and librarians foster that love of reading.

Any tidbits about your books you'd like to share or why librarians should read and share them?

It's always a little awkward for me, that self-promotion thing, but hey, since you asked... For one, they're funny. None of them are "comic novels," but each of them seem to make people laugh a lot. I love laughter through tears, and there are lots of moments like that in my books. I think another thing about my books is that they are a unique combination of accessible and complex, fun and literary. Many readers write me to say that one of my books is their new favorite, and I think a lot of those notes come from kids who wandered onto my book and found it a surprisingly affecting experience that they didn't expect. It's like with Openly Straight and The Porcupine of Truth: you're going along with a fun read and you don't even notice that they've seeped their way into your heart and mind... That's the kind of book I like to read--something that seems like a fun read that winds up opening my heart to a new feeling or my mind to a new idea.

To see all the WLA conference posts:
Stellar School Age Services Preconference
Wednesday Conference Programs
Burr Worzalla Award Winner
Luncheon Speaker Bill Konigsburg
Thursday Youth Events
Konigsburg Book Discussion
Friday Youth Conference Programs
Social Events at WLA

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