Christopher Cloud began writing children’s fiction after a long career in journalism and public relations. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1967 with a degree in journalism. He has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist for newspapers in Texas, California, and Missouri. His work has appeared in many national publications, including Time Magazine. Employed by Sun Oil Company as a Public Relations executive he later operated his own PR agency.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Christopher. Can you tell us what your latest book A Boy Called Duct Tape is all about?
A: It tells the story of Pablo Perez, a 12-year-old kid without much going for him. His classmates have dubbed him “Duct Tape” because his tattered, discount-store sneakers are held together with…you guessed it, duct tape. He can’t escape the bullying.
Pablo’s fortunes turn, however, after he finds a $20 gold coin on the river bottom while swimming near his home. Pablo later buys a $1 treasure map at the county fair. The map shows the route to the legendary “lost treasure” of Jesse and Frank James. Pablo can’t help but wonder: Is there a link between the map and the gold coin? He, his sister, and cousin are determined to find out.
Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?
A: This is my first middle-grade novel.
Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?
A: I didn’t experience writer’s block with A Boy Called Duct Tape, but I did twist myself into a pretzel with another middle-grade story I started a couple of years ago. I was 18,000 words into the story when I hit a wall. The story remains unfinished.
After writing an early draft of A Kid Called Duct Tape I sensed something not right with the story, and I changed the ethnicity of my major characters to Latino. It was exactly what the story needed. It was far more appealing, far more empathic, and far more engaging. The change led me to believe that young readers would now find themselves rooting for my characters.
Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
A: Shortly after finishing the novel, I e-mailed it out in pdf form to several middle-graders asking for reviews. One young reader named Alex had this to say about A Boy Called Duct Tape: “I am 12 and I absolutely loved your book. It’s my favorite realistic fiction book I’ve ever read!”
Q: What is your daily writing routine?
A: I write four or five hours a day, seven days a week.
Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?
A: If I’m not reading, I’m either on the golf course or catching the latest Hollywood flick.
Q: What book changed your life?
A: I read an adventure novel titled We Killed A Bear when I was in the third or fourth grade. I didn’t realize until years later that my love for middle-grade adventure stories was influenced by that book.
Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
A: William Saroyan’s The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze. I have always been a risk-taker in both my personal and professional life.
Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”
A: My undying locality to family and friends.
Thank you for this interview Christopher. I wish you much success on your latest release, A Boy Called Duct Tape!
About A Boy Called Duct Tape
Pablo Perez is a 12-year-old poor kid without much going for him. His classmates have dubbed him “Duct Tape” because his tattered discount-store sneakers are held together with…you guessed it, duct tape. He can’t escape the bullying.
Pablo’s luck, however, changes after he finds a $20 gold coin while swimming in a river near his home. Pablo later buys a $1 treasure map at the county fair. The map shows the route to the “lost treasure” of Jesse James. Pablo can’t help but wonder: Is there a link between the map and the gold coin? He is determined to find out, and he, his 9-year-old sister and 13-year-old cousin hire an ill-natured cave guide, and begin a treacherous underground adventure in search of treasure.
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