Learn more about Book Fest author Jack Gantos


Author Jack Gantos signs books for seniors Ellie Brass, Andrew Michel, and sophomore Ben Atmore after speaking to Upper School students. Of writing, he said, “It was the hardest task I could think of which would be a challenge every day for my entire writing life.”

An experienced author takes the stage in front group of observant young eyes, prepared to share his wisdom on writing as he kicks off Book Fest. Jack Gantos is an author who has written children to adult books. He’s published over 50 titles, including Rotten Ralph and Dead End in Norvelt.

According to his website, Gantos first thought about writing when he read his sister’s writing and thought he could do better. He decided to be a writer based on the meaning it would give him. It was the hardest task I could think of which would be a challenge every day for my entire writing life,” Gantos said.

Every year Book Fest opens with the goal of providing an author who gives students some insight into the world of writing. Gantos has plenty of knowledge to share. Before the BookFest, he said, “I will be speaking on creative writing and literature, and how students can go about achieving meaningful, professional work.”

The experience of being author is one hard to imagine, but Gantos sheds some light onto what the values of an author are: “Being a reader that can fully imagine a text, be captured by it, and artistically influenced by the full range of it—this is a great and necessary indulgence,” Gantos said.

All jobs have ups and downs, but for authors, writing a book can be especially emotional. Authors take a small part of themselves and put in on paper for it to be judged by the whole world. At first writing can seem tough. “Capturing the first draft—the bones of the work—can be nerve-wracking,” Gantos said.

As the draft cycle goes on the process can become less and less taxing on the author. “The best part is discovering the full depth and range and beauty of the piece through about fifty to a hundred rewrites,” Gantos said, noting that revisions are his favorite part of writing.

He had some very important final advice for students on writing, “Start small. Get a journal. Discipline yourself to write for ten minutes per day. Write about what you know about. Keep in mind that a good story has about 50% interior/emotional/thinking life within the characters, and fifty percent exterior/action life,” Gantos said.

Gantos spoke to the Upper School student body on Nov.15 during X-period.