Author Interview: Greg Leitich Smith


Although Greg’s never built a time machine, he has degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, he has a degree in law from The University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor. Greg is a native of Chicago, naturalized Texan. Author of Chronal Engine (Clarion/HMH 2012); Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook/Macmillan, Spring 2014); Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown 2003); and Tofu and T.Rex (Little Brown 2005). Co-Author of Santa Knows (Dutton 2006).

Meet Greg Leitich Smith, one of this year’s faculty members.

Q: Do you have a writing ritual – a particular location, a certain time of day, etc?
A: Well, I have a day job, so I write when I can. My daily (weekday) schedule usually goes something like this: Get up somewhere around 6-6:30 a.m. Feed the cats. Work out/run. Write. Go to work. Return around 5-6 p.m. Feed the cats. Make dinner. Write.

On weekends, I usually try to write in the mornings before Cyn [Greg’s wife and well-known writer, Cynthia Leitich Smith] gets up, so we can take time off in the afternoon and pretend we have real weekends.

With regard to the actual writing, I try to mix it up. Sometimes I will draft on the computer and sometimes I will just use pen and paper. I did an entire draft of CHRONAL ENGINE on four legal pads.

Q: What were some of your favorite books as a child?

A: In early grade school, I really liked the Three Investigators series and The Great Brain, but my favorite was The Swiss Family Robinson. In middle grade and junior high, I fell in love with fantasy like Lord of the Rings and the Earthsea books. And all along the way, I’ve always loved nonfiction. We had a set of World Book Encyclopedias and I would periodically grab a volume and just read through it.

Q: What is the hardest part of writing for you?

A: Plotting and getting the first draft done tends to be hardest. I usually start with an idea and a character/voice, but putting together the first (terrible) go at it usually takes some gnashing of teeth…

Q: Can you tell us about what you are working on?

A: I just received edits on the sequel to CHRONAL ENGINE, which is tentatively titled CHRONAL ENGINE: BORROWED TIME. It takes up where CHRONAL ENGINE left off and ties up some of the loose ends. But not all, because after all, it’s time travel…

Find Greg’s books at The King’s English
(The bookstore for Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers.)