Middle grade author Bruce Coville will be in Miami on Jan. 18-20 to speak to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Florida Regional Conference.
The conference is the annual gathering of Florida’s published and aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators held at the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel. The schedule includes writing workshops Friday and Sunday and a Saturday general session. Attendees come from across Florida and from as far away as Canada.
Coville is known for the Sixth Grade Alien series, which included My Teacher is An Alien, and I Was a Sixth Grade Alien. He also is the author of the Unicorn Chronicles, the Magic Shop series. His latest book is Always October.
“It’s about a boy who finds a baby on the porch whose mother takes it in,” Coville said. “It turns out to be a monster. The baby looks entirely sweet and normal until the first full moon.”
Coville’s books are a perfect blend of fun, humor and just enough delicious horror to give kids a tingle but not enough to scare them. He has perfected his craft over 35 years and published more than 100 books. He was recently awarded the Empire State Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People by the New York Library Association (NYLA).
His books, while fun, have the effect of making kids think. Always October prompts kids to think about fear and how fear affects people.
“That rose naturally from the nature of the story,” he said. “If you like the story, you’ll be thinking about them and present the possibilities for kids to think about them.”
Children’s book authors often are asked “when are you going to write a real book?” Coville said he writes books for children because it’s the most radical thing he can do.
“If you really want to affect the future, you don’t do it by what’s happening today, you do it by what happening in 10-20 years,” he said. “I get wonderful letters from people who read my books talking about what they are doing now.”
He also likes children’s books better than adult books.
“It is the last refuge of the happy ending,” Coville said. “I’m an optimistic person. In the adult world, a happy ending is the result of the weak mind.”
Coville also has taken on continuing the Amber Brown series, originally written by the late Paula Danziger, a very good friend of his. Coville is co-writing the books with Liz Levy. The first, Amber Brown is Tickled Pink and has been released.
“It’s a very good collaborative process,” he said. “They are written in Paula’s voice. We write the whole thing together sitting down.”
Coville is working on a book that currently is titled The Diary of a Mad Brownie: With Supporting Documents. After that, he is going to revisit some favorite characters with a sequel to Goblins in the Castle.
“I love to see what my characters have been up to when I wasn’t looking,” he said.
New York Times best-selling author Ellen Hopkins also will speak. She is doing a school visit at Palmer Trinity School and signing books at Books and Books in Coral Gables on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 3 p.m. Coville will sign books Thursday, Jan. 19, 6:30 p.m., at Books and Books.
The conference faculty includes Toni Buzzeo, Dan Yaccarino, four editors and four agents. For conference information, go online to www.scbwiflorida.com.
For book signing information, go to www.booksandbooks.com