Geist/Lawrence Author John David Anderson
Enjoying the newly renovated Mama Bear’s, Indianapolis resident and author John David Anderson indulged me by sitting down for coffee and conversation. Recently celebrating the release of his third novel, Minion, a companion to Sidekicked (his second novel), Anderson discusses his inspiration and focus.
KR: What is your earliest memory of writing?
JDA: I remember making my own comic books as a kid. All stick figures—I’m a terrible artist—but full of explosions and aliens and tanks and the stuff of a 7-year-old boy’s imagination. Light on plot, but heavy on action. I have always been a storyteller, but I didn’t find joy in writing until high school, which is about the time I could start to appreciate other writers for their style and for their artistry, rather than just the story they told.
KR: Has writing always been a passion of yours?
JDA: I’m passionate about stories. I’m passionate about characters and their evolutions and their conflicts and their relationships. I’m passionate about the power of narrative to shape and give meaning to our lives and beliefs. But I always worry that I’m putting the puzzle together incorrectly and that my words won’t do justice to the story in my head. The actual act of sitting down and writing is both torture and bliss.
KR: You and your wife have 9-year-old twins. Do you make up bedtime stories for your kids off the cuff?
JDA: I used to. Now we make them up together. Their imaginations are equal, if not superior, to mine, so they bear some responsibility. We sometimes make up stories, each of us contributing one sentence or word at a time. They’re usually awful, and, always bizarre, but there is value in the shared act of creation that I treasure. It’s gratifying to watch them become storytellers in their own right.
KR: Your writing is geared toward middle-grade children. Have your kids read your books? What do they think of them? Do they present ideas to you? In what ways do they inspire you?
JDA: My son reads everything I write and constantly reaffirms that I am his favorite author, which is very sweet. My daughter is more leveled in her appraisal; she loves them, but they aren’t her absolute favorites (note: her favorite changes weekly). They don’t give me ideas explicitly, though I am always mining their behaviors, comments, reactions, etc. for inspiration. I think it’s important for me to write books that my own kids would enjoy and take something away from. I want them to be proud of me. Or at least not embarrassed by me. (Good luck, kids!)
KR: Do you take frequent notes throughout the course of a normal day as the ideas come to you? What portion of your week or of a day do you spend writing? And is your work done at a computer or do you prefer a tablet?
JDA: I am not a note-taker, a journaler, or a planner. I write organically, one idea naturally budding off of the next (and often getting trimmed later), so most of my ideas surface during the process. Only when I get stumped, which happens fairly often, do I need to step away and brainstorm, and then I might jot something down. I spend a good chunk of my day writing, so that provides plenty of hours for the ideas to germinate. All of my writing is done at my desktop looking out over my back yard so I can get distracted by the birds and remind myself that it is time to mow the lawn.
KR: You grew up on the north side and attended North Central High School. Have you been back to those halls or the schools you attended in elementary or junior high, to speak?
JDA: I have been back to Nora Elementary, though I was a student there 30 years ago, so I didn’t run into any former teachers. It’s fascinating to look at the students and think that one of them could be back there, in that same classroom, 30 years from now, talking about their work, their passions, their life experience and maybe one of those in their audience could be my grandchild. Who knows? Hopefully I will still be churning out books when that time comes.
John David Anderson lives with his wife and twins in the Geist/Lawrence area. Dave’s wife, Alithea, teaches at IPS and the twins do their best to keep their parents as busy as possible. Dave enjoys speaking to middle school and upper-grade elementary students, and from the rave reviews, is apparently quite good at it. If you would like to contact him to set up an author visit, you can visit his website at johndavidanderson.org or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
His novels Standard Hero Behavior, Sidekicked, and Minion are available online at amazon.com, and at local bookstores Kids Ink and Indy Reads.