Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Josh Berk Interview

1) How did you get the idea for The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin?

The short answer is that there was a week a few years ago where (A) I had a dream about a kid reading lips on a school bus (B) I watched a Law & Order marathon and (C) I watched "My Super Sweet 16" on MTV. So I pulled the ideas together and starting writing a mystery about a deaf student who solves a mystery surrounding a classmate's fancy birthday party. I love how this description makes it seem like all my book research involves is sleeping and watching TV.

2) What is your writing process like? Being a dad, I'm assuming it can be hard to find time to write, revise, edit, be on deadline, etc. How do you manage it all?

How do I manage it all? Badly! I'm always stressed out, exhausted, running late, feeling like I'm not spending enough time on writing and/or feeling like I'm not spending enough time with the kids. I never miss a deadline though! I'm a fan of Red Bull and the furious all-nighter. I recommend my methods to no one.

3) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I'm reading Jack Gantos' autobiography, HOLE IN MY LIFE because I'm (hopefully) going to go see him speak at a Children's Literature conference here in PA in April and I wanted to know more about him. Did you know that he did time for smuggling hashish before he became a children's author? Pretty interesting guy. And quite a writer. Joey Pigza FTW!

4) You're a part of the Tenners. How did you get involved with this group, and how has it helped you in getting ready for the release of your book?

Back when I sold my book in 2007 and it was slated to be a 2009 release, I heard about the Class of 2k9 through my friend Cyn Balog who was thinking about joining. It's hard to make your name known as a debut author in the crowded marketplace and my agent agreed that a group like this could be a help for me. So I joined and one of the 2k9ers I met was Heidi Kling. We became friendly and then we both became bumped to 2010.

She told me that she was starting a new group, The Tenners, and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. I said yes and it has been a big help! The "group marketing" aspect is nice, but really far more important to me has been the comraderie. Basically, it's helped me keep my sanity. It is very helpful to have people going through the same thing as you because being a debut author can be stressful. There's a bunch of stuff you feel like you're supposed to know but you feel dumb asking your publisher. So we ask each other all sorts of these questions ("What does a publicist do?" "What should I wear when I have lunch with my editor?" "What does 'stet' mean?") and someone always knows the answer and shares it happily. Really a great group!

Since Suz and Josh know each other so well, I let them turn the tables on each other so they can ask their own questions. So here is Suz's interview with Josh:

Amazing Josh Berk, you secretly want to be a Smitten Kitten don't you? I've heard that you are an awesome cheerleader. Any dope cheers you'd like to share?

You know, when I was in high school I was on the basketball team. Technically I was the last man on the basketball team. I sat next to the cheerleaders and spent more time talking to them than watching the game. Sometimes they would give me pom-poms. There was no chance that I was ever going to get in to the game anyway. So really, it's actually true that I am an awesome cheerleader! My favorite is that one where you spell "aggressive" and tell the team to be aggressive. As in "B.E. A.G.G.R.E.S.S.I.V.E. BE! AGGRESSIVE!" That one rules. I know a bunch of them. Just don't ask me to do a split.

Hamburger Halpin--what a great character. If you were a character in one of my books--what do you think your name would be and what sort of issues would you have?

I'd probably be named Brock Studlyton and my main "issue" would probably be a paralyzing fear of walnuts. That and being so sexy it hurts.

If you could be on any reality show, which one would it be? And if you say Jersey Shore I'll knee you in the nards.

Trick question. Because I was on a reality show when I visited Japan in 1997. It is called "Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!" and it is hilarious. Unfortunately my episode never aired because, well, let's just say some of my behavior was inappropriate even for Japanese Televison.

p.s. Jersey Shore rulez!

I heard this wild rumor... were you once a model?

Well, you know ... I was in college and I needed a quick way to make some money ... books don't pay for themselves, you know! ... And, the job listing in the campus paper just said they needed someone for the art department's figure drawing class and ... HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THEY MEANT NUDE MODELING?

I held that job for three semesters.


  1. Haha! Former nude model writes book that came to him in dreams after watching tons of tv. Great story!

  2. I will be so thrilled to have this book in my hands. 'Fresh new voice' can be so generic these days, but you made a great pick.

    This interview certainly made me laugh, I appreciate that!