Challenger Deep and I Made the Cover of the Latest Issue of the School Library Journal
My Interview with School Library Journal Is a Feature Article!
Here’s an excerpt:
Accepting the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in November at the Cipriani Wall Street ballroom in Manhattan, Neal Shusterman thanked everyone who had supported him throughout his career. A career is “shaped by so many people,” the author noted, “people who help you, who believe in you.” Challenger Deep (HarperCollins, 2015), one of Shusterman’s 30 novels to date, is the story of Caden Bosch, a teenager who, as he begins spiraling into a psychotic episode, imagines himself on a ship bound for the Marianas Trench, the deepest spot in the ocean. As the ship gets closer and closer to its destination, both Caden and readers find themselves in a plot and a place that takes on frightening dimensions when they no longer know whom to trust.
Lyrical, layered, and profoundly moving, Shusterman’s novel was inspired by his son Brendan’s experience with mental illness, and it is dedicated to the doctor who the author credits with saving his son’s life. Before leaving the stage at the award ceremony, the author asked his son to join him. As the room broke out in applause, he put his arm around Brendan’s shoulder and told him, this book “is yours as much as it is mine.”
First, Neal, congratulations on the National Book Award. What has your life been like since the announcement?
It has been a crazy whirlwind of epic proportions. The recognition the book has received, especially because it’s such a personal book, is really wonderful. It’s the culmination of an entire career.
You published Edison’s Alley in February of 2015, Challenger Deep in April, won the National Book Award in November, and just this week the film rights to Challenger Deep were acquired. Your short story collection UnBound is due out in hours, Hawking’s Hallway in February 2016, and the film version of Unwind is slated for production in the spring of 2016. Is this going to be a typical year for Neal Shusterman going forward?
It’s been a very good year. I feel like I’m surfing this wave that just keeps on rolling.
I’m curious to know when you began to think of yourself as a writer. There’s a story floating around that you wrote to E.B. White at age eight asking for a sequel to Charlotte’s Web and offering to collaborate with him on it.
It’s true. [Laughs] His wife wrote a wonderful letter back, saying that her husband was having eye trouble and that he had asked her to respond. She thanked me for my letter and told me that her husband felt Charlotte’s Web was complete and did not need a sequel. I still have that letter.