ROCK the WORD: ‘Grasshopper Jungle’ author finds ‘stories all around’

Andrew Smith, the award winning author of “Winger” and “Grasshopper Jungle,” showered young adults with his praise as he paid visits to both Peet and Holmes Junior Highs last week.

“An internal thing that I would tell young people is my recurring message, is that ya know there are always stories all around you, just kinda like knocking on your window, waiting for you to pay attention to them so that you can tell those stories in your own words,” Smith said.

He, along with other award winning novelists A.S. King, E.E Charlton-Trujillo, G. Neri and C.G. Watson, visited Peet Junior High last Wednesday, Sept. 14 and Holmes Junior High last Thursday, Sept. 15 for the “Rock The Word” author’s visit.

“It’s really inspiring and invigorating to get out and actually meet people who are readers of stuff that I do, and that’s kinda every author’s dream,” Smith said.

Since Smith was a kid, he’s always wanted to become a writer. Ever since his days as editor of his high school newspaper, he wanted to be a writer. After graduating college, he experimented with journalism. Writing for newspapers and radio stations, he found it wasn’t the kind of writing he’d dreamed about doing.

It wasn’t until his son’s interest that he decided to buckle down and publish his books that he never thought that he’d ever show an eye. “My son told me. He was five or six years old maybe, and he told me that he wanted to be a writer when he grew up, so I thought maybe I had a parental duty for him,” Smith said.

“My first published novel [“Ghost Medicine”], I didn’t think I’d ever let anyone see it. I instantly felt a round of guilt after I published it. I got the money a couple weeks later, and I hid it away from my wife. Money for your own cherished writing, that’s crazy. Believe me … I got used to it … fast,” Smith said.

Smith filled the room with laughter and ear to ear grins with his witty writer’s humor and left little doubt that he had accomplished his goals for young writers and non-writers. “Your futures are very often being propagandized by corporate America that wants to limit the vision that young people have. Be anything you want because the denial that these people put you in of what you wanna be is ridiculous,” Smith said.

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