Author Spotlight: Lamar Giles

May 30, 2019

Today we are pleased to feature author Lamar Giles, who writes for children, teens, and adults, and is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. Read about his recent book, THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER, illustrations by Dapo Adeola (HMH Books for Young Readers, April 2019) and win a copy!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

I am a native Virginian, long time comic book fan (The Amazing Spider-man is my favorite), I mumble rap lyrics when I'm thinking or anxious, and I've been writing since I was eight years old. I came to write for children because I had such a hard time finding children's books that I actually wanted to read when I was young. I wanted to see people who looked like me (young, black) in books. I didn't think there were nearly enough, so I decided to add my voice and I've been having a blast telling those stories and meeting my readers. 

Congrats on your recent book, THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER. Tell us about it and what inspired you.

THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER stars The Legendary Alston Boys of the supernaturally weird Logan County, Virginia. There’s Otto, a loving know-it-all, and Sheed, who’s sometimes cranky, but always cool. When they’re tricked into freezing time on the last day of summer by the mysterious Mr. Flux, they unleash a bunch of weird creatures, they either have to align with, or battle, to save the day. It was heavily inspired by THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH and mystery novels I enjoyed as a boy. In fact, it's like The Hardy Boys crashed into The Phantom Tollbooth.

You've written both YA and MG. When a story comes to you, what makes you decide to write it as a YA or a MG?

I'm fairly new to MG, so this may change, but I tend to think of the darker stories I want to tell as YA, and the purely fun and light stories I want to tell for the MG audience. TLLDoS is pure fun, beginning to end. It was a joy to write, and I hope it's a joy for whoever picks it up and gives it a try. 

What projects are you working on now?

I'm actually working on a sequel to TLLDoS. I don't have a title yet, but the description was recently announced: Legendary heroes Otto and Sheed pursue a fugitive through a funhouse mirror into a vastly distorted version of their beloved Logan County.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read more than your write--a great rule is to read 10x as much as you write in a day. And train yourself to finish what you start. Doesn't mean you won't ever abandon a project, but you should finish more than you shelve. 

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I'm a huge LEGO enthusiast. The bigger and more complicated, the better. My biggest project was a Star Wars Super Star Destroyer, which was over 4,000 pieces and took me 40 hours to complete. 

Where can people find you online?

 Lamar Giles writes novels and short stories for children, teens, and adults. He is the author of the Edgar Award nominees FAKE ID and ENDANGERED, as well as the novels OVERTURNED, SPIN, and THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER. He is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and a faculty member in the Spalding University MFA program. He resides in Virginia with his wife. 

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  1. Hi Lamar. I am reading the Last Last Days now and I am amazed at your imagination. I love your description of the Hardy Boys meet the Phantom Tollbooth. I can see Sheed and Otto as the Hardy Boys!

  2. Lamar's novels are so fast paced and riveting, I can't put them down as an adult. He has a real knack for writing for kids and teens, and I can't wait to see what's next!

  3. Hi Lamar, I just added The Last Day of Summer to my TBR list. Thanks for this great interview!

  4. I love Lamar Giles' books--great interview to get to know him better. The Last Last Day of Summer is going on my list...:-)

  5. What great fun! I'm a long time fan of both the Hardy Boys and The Phantom Tollbooth. Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy of your new book!!

  6. This book is high on my reading list ever since I first read about it. Can't wait to read it! Legos are fun! I also recently rediscovered my love of jigsaw puzzles too.

  7. Lamar- this looks awesome! Congrats on the success of this and every future book...

  8. Oooh, the LAST last day! That sounds exciting! Looking forward to reading your new book. Congratulations!


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