Clay McLeod Chapman pilots a career that most 12-year-old boys would salivate over. He’s written one of The Avengers comics and a Spiderman comic among many other works—his most recent being The Tribe: Homeroom Headhunters, a Middle Grade novel about a tribe of bully-battling runaway kids that secretly inhabit a middle school.
Chapman’s writing career began in a way that could also make many authors salivate. He got a three-book contract right out of college, based on the merit of his short stories. He’s been writing nearly every day since graduating—which is so often the telltale sign of a successful author and so often not acknowledged. After his three-book deal was fulfilled, Chapman entered a period of career doldrums, where he was supporting himself mainly through commissioned playwriting deals. The way Chapman landed the Spidy comic was to suggest a story idea for a cover that was already drawn. His idea won, and he got the deal. Chapman says the way he got The Tribe trilogy to be commissioned by Disney Hyperion Books, was a lucky fluke, but if he can recommend anything to aspiring authors it’s to say, “yes” to any and every writing assignment. “Yes has led me to comics, to YA,” he says. Did Chapman think he’d ever write a Middle Grade novel? No, but when the opportunity arose he said yes and now he says, “It’s the most fun I’ve had writing in a long time.”
We talk about knowing you are destined to be a writer, about following up with all the writing leads you have and about the mad world of middle grade fiction. Oh, also Chapman is hilarious and a great guy. Enjoy him.
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