Sid Fleischman has written dozens of books for children, and each one is crafted carefully with vivid detail and expressive language. Fleischman knows that a great children's book will live with readers for a long, long time and he wants to get it right. It took him more than 10 years and several false starts to complete his Newbery-winning book, The Whipping Boy. His ideas can spring from just about anywhere — his time travel story, The 13th Floor, was inspired by the superstitious fear of the number thirteen (triskaidekaphobia). Often, his stories hint at the possibility of magic in our lives, not surprising for someone who once toured as a professional magician.
You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on Sid Fleischman, or see a selected list of his children's books. (This video is also available on YouTube and iTunes.)
What's the trick to writing more than 60 books? Award-winning author Sid Fleischman found the magic of writing a book is well, like magic. Fleischman toured as a professional vaudeville magician after he finished high school and wrote several books about magic before he realized that a mystery novel is very like a magic trick-only the author is kind enough to explain what's happened where a magician keeps his secrets to himself.
He began writing detective stories, suspense tales, and other pulp fiction for adults after spending four years in the Naval Reserves during World War II and then graduated from San Diego State College in 1949.
After his work as a reporter on the San Diego Daily Journal ended when the paper folded in 1950, Fleischman began writing novels and screenplays. He says he began writing books for children when his own children were old enough to start asking questions about what kind of job he had since he was at home all day. He wrote a story for them which not only cleared up the mystery about his profession, but hooked him on writing for kids.
Many of Sid Fleishman's books are laugh-out-loud funny, but he believes they're comic on the surface and really very serious underneath. He doesn't plan this or any part of his novels. He just starts writing and then improvising day-by-day until he reaches the end. It's a process that he admits isn't for everyone, but has certainly paid off for the Newbery Award-winning author.