Not only can Mark Peter Hughes write an excellent YA novel, he can write an excellent title too: first, I am the Wallpaper and now, Lemonade Mouth. The latter, published last month, is a really lovely and rocking tale of a band formed in a Rhode Island high school. We at the burger urge you to consume this book! But first, read this:
Who is your favorite writer that most people have never heard of?
I’m a fan of David Yoo, who wrote this great novel called Girls for Breakfast. I also love Paul Micou, Barbara O'Connor, Kim Ablon Whitney, Lara Zeises, and Laurie Stolarz. Plus, I’m often amazed by the work that teens email to me as part of my online writing contests (markpeterhughes.com). There are so many terrific undiscovered writers out there!
What kid or teen books rocked your world growing up?
So many! I loved The Great Brain series by John Dennis Fitzgerald, which is about a very smart boy living with his family in Utah in the late 1800s. I remember enjoying How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, and anything by Judy Blume. I read a lot by Enid Blighton, too (Five Go Off In A Caravan, anyone?). The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is still one of my absolute favorite books ever.
Describe your ideal place to write.
In a neighborhood café with a cup of strong coffee and no Internet connection. Alternatively, as long as we’re talking ideal, how about sitting in a comfortable wicker chair on a porch overlooking a magnificent coffee plantation in Costa Rica, a gentle warm breeze occasionally carrying up the musical sounds of the village below? That was an experience I actually had one glorious afternoon. Sure, I didn’t get a lot of writing done, but who cared?
Your life is a TV series. Name the theme song, one event that would be on the "best of" episode, and one that would be on the blooper reel.
The theme song would be “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies not only because it’s a good question and a great song, but also because the Pixies are among the coolest of all time. The “blooper” episode would have to include the day I played the clarinet in the middle school band concert. I was so bad at the instrument that I decided to just pretend to play—throughout the entire concert I moved my fingers but didn’t actually make any sound. My whole family was there watching. After the concert, my grandmother proudly announced how great I’d played, and that she had been able to hear my clarinet above any of the others. Another blooper would have to be that day in college when I fell and slid about 30-feet down a wet, muddy hillside in white pants mere moments before a much-anticipated visit to an all-girls college in Rochester, NY. The “best of” episode would have to include scenes from the summer I worked at the town beach in Barrington, Rhode Island. A lot of sitting around listening to music on the sand. Probably not great television, but a lot of fun to live through.
Burger-flippers want to know: have you ever had a job that required you to wear a geeky uniform? Details, please!
I worked at a Burger King one hot, humid summer, where my job involved standing over a vat of boiling fat while wearing a thick polyester shirt. Another summer I worked at a factory that made chowder and stuffed clams. I had to wear a hairnet and earplugs, and I stank of fish at the end of every day. The odor was so strong that my sisters covered the car seat with plastic so that the smell wouldn’t soak into the fabric.
We'd like to name a burger in your honor. What kind of fixins should it have?
Make mine an open-faced free-range organic turkey burger with chunky blue cheese dressing, lettuce, and a single thick-sliced tomato. Add a tall frosty glass of lemonade too, please.
Thank you, Bookburger!