Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Author Chat with Walter Dean Myers


Transcript of Live Chat
July 29, 2004

NYPL This afternoon our guest is Walter Dean Myers. Walter is the winner of several Newbery Honors and Coretta Scott King awards. His books regularly appear on "best books" lists of the American Library Association. His writings include: Hoops, Slam!, Motown and Didi, Harlem, Monster and many, many more.

Catherine Which of the books that you've written is your favorite?

walter don't have a favorite, Cath.

Joanne Do you think book awards are important?

walter the awards are helpful which help me to sign new books which help me to keep on writing...

cassie what was your best book written

walter The Legend of Tarik

Joanne What book are you reading now?

walter I am reading America Alone, and The Milton Berle Joke Book, and the Sonnets of Shakespeare

maryellenfx hi mr.myers you are my favorite author and i would like to know who your favorite author is?

walter my favorite author changes from week to week, but Ramon Jimenez is one of my favorites

Murad was it harder to get your books published as a black man?

walter I don't know if it was harder to get my books published as a black man because I have never been anything else.

gonyug At what age did you start to enjoy writing?

walter I have enjoyed writing since I was nine.

mairo why do you wirte books

walter I write books because I enjoy the activity, because it makes a living for me, and because I don't have anything else I can do as well

mairo Was it hard getting your first book published?

walter I have never found it hard to get anything published. I had a lot of rejections but it didn't bother me

Miss_Sweet_Potato_Pie I just got chills reading your new book Shooter!!! Did the incident at Columbine High School inspire Shooter?

walter The incident at the school did inspire me as did a lot of interviews with young people, especially young people who had been bullied

Harlem2004 yo wats up walter

walter Hi

KoolKat Hi. I'm writing from the George Bruce Library and understand that you used this library when you were young. Did any of your story ideas originate from your experiences at the library?

walter I loved the George Bruce branch and spent many wonderful days there

Bootleg_harry_potter_from_harlem if you would change anything of you life what would you and why?

walter I would have realized that my love for books and writing was an important asset to my life and would have thought of them as more important than I did.

maryellenfx Can you come to Staten Island, NY when your new book comes out for a book signing?

walter Could be - I'm only a few minutes away in Jersey City My son says that he really doesn't like reading. Do you have any advice for him. You are his favorite author. He is currently reading "Bad Boy"

walter I interested my son in reading by reading with him. We read together as a family at least once a week

Daisy_girl Do you have kids?

walter I have a daughter who works for the telephone company, a son who is a chaplain in the Air Force, and a son who writes and illustrates books

KoolKat Was the character Steve Harmon from "Monster" inspired by anyone you have known?

walter Steve Harmon was a made up character who reminded me of many of the young people I interviewed in prisons and youth facilities

Joanne Did you get the first book you wrote published or did you write several books before that happened?

walter I was lucky enough to get my first book attempt published. It was a picture book called "Where Does the Day Go?"

gonyug How old are you?

walter I am very much surprised to discover that I am 66 years old.

Trisha do you plan to visit schools to talk about any of your books in the bronx?

walter I have visited schools in the Bronx but I have none scheduled at this time.

Daisy_girl What was one of the first thing that inspired you in writing books?

walter My grandfather and father told stories around the dinner table. I liked the stories and wanted to tell my own. I didn't have anything great to tell and no experiences to relate so I made up fantasies to write.

Emmanuel how was it growing up in harlem because I live in the grant houses and it seems to be a nice place to live except with the fact that there are a lot of people doing bad things around the neighborhood?

walter Let's hear it for the Grant Houses! I loved living in Harlem. My home was there, my church, my family, and people who loved me

kayla what is your best book

walter My best book will be my next book (hopefully)

gonyug Are you planning on writing a new book any time soon? if so, what is it about?

walter I will be publishing two more books this year. One will be about the exploration of antarctica and the other will be a book of poems about harlem

KoolKat What advice would you give to aspiring young authors?

walter Don't compete with us old authors! Okay, seriously, be a good reader. Too many aspiring writers don't read enough. Then try to write every day.

jhuffmann When i read the book scorpions i figured out that there is alot of bullies in this world...

walter Bullying is a growing problem in our schools and in our world. We need to name them as 'bullies' and not as heroes or macho dudes.

kipsbay In one of your books "Fallen Angels" you describe the life of a teenager fighting in the Vietnam war, Have you ever experienced something similar to that young teenager or wanted to?

walter I joined the army at 17 and my brother joined when he became old enough. He was killed his first day in Nam and that inspired the book. I've also written several short stories about the same subject

Murad was harlem the same back then as it was now?

walter Harlem has changed quite a bit but is somewhat similar today to what it had been when I was a kid. Then it was a mix of people, rich, poor, black and white.

Murad i like your book monster

walter It's currently being performed as a play in Scotland.

luci i recently read the Beast and it was an excellent book! Is this something that you are especially concerned about for our youth?

walter I think I kept sending the first line...anyway, the relationship between my son and the girl intrigued me and I wrote about that and his feelings about his old neighborhood.


walter I was a foster child and met my real dad as a teenager. we didn't get along but he did inspire the book.

Daisy_girl Where were you born?

walter I was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia

yakp do you plan to write books for little kids

walter I might try a few. I have written a number of picture books, such as The Blues of Flats Brown.

NKW-mORRISANIA Hi! Have you ever visited my Granfather's bookstore in Queens? D and I Publishers Books.

walter have probably been in your grandfather's bookstore.

Daisy_girl Have you ever thought that succeeding your goals may have take you this long?

walter Actually, I succeeded in my goals of being a published writer many years ago.

KoolKat In the movie of your life who would play you?

walter I don't know-Who do you think?

Murad i am a foster child too

walter I have written a number of books involving foster children and will be working on another one soon.

kayla any of your kids ask you to write about them?

walter My kids did not want me to write about them but to put their photographs in books. And I did

Hotgirls20092000 would like any of your kids to be an author like you?

walter My son Christopher is an author and an illustrator

Dianna I like your stories. Where do you get the pictures for your books? Are they from your family?

walter I collect photographs of black life in America and also of children from around the world. I have over five thousand photographs in my basement. Come out and take a look!

Dianna Over 5,000 photographs!!! That must be fun. Maybe I will start collecting something.

maryellenfx if you weren't a writer what would be your second choice of a job?

walter I'd either play ball for the Knicks (guard) or outfield for the Yankees. If none of that worked I'd try being a lawyer.

kipsbay What type of music do you listen to?

walter Right now I'm listening to Dulce Pontes from Portugal and Cesaria Evora [from Cape Verde]--both very hot

Trisha do you enjoy writing books for kids and not books from the heart for adults?

walter I do enjoy writing for kids. I might be writing some things for adults soon but kids are still my favorite people

yakp in which books were your kids photograh in

walter "Bad Boy" and "One More River To Cross"

yakp that means the little boy in the white shirt is one of your kids

walter In which book?

yakp Bad Boy

walter We're looking for the book to see the picture

kayla when you where smaller was it hard to know you where a foster chid?

walter No, it wasn't. I never knew my real mom but I did wonder what my folks were like. I wondered why I was given away, but since I liked my foster parents it was all right.


walter I like all sports. I've played basketball, baseball, volleyball and tennis

Trisha how far haved you traveled

walter I've been to the Arctic, the rain forests in South America, Asia, North Africa, Egypt, Europe

Joshua This is the 1st time i spoke to an author on the internet

walter Have you read the Journal of Joshua Loper? There is an exhibit in Texas about this black cowboy I have written about.

Joshua No i havent but i would like to

yakp where did you come up with the title monsters

walter I wanted to think about what Steve was? Was he an innocent kid caught up in a legal mess or was he a monster? I interviewed so called 'nice' dudes in jail and Ithought they were monsters

Jackson_Morrisania Everybody at the Morrisania Branch Says!!! Hi!! This is our first Author Chat and we are sooo excited!! Thanks for visiting with us in Cyberspace!!

walter Morrisania Branch is in the House. All right!


walter Yes, and she is sitting next to me feeding me potato chips as I type.

mairo don't you hate it when people don't like your books

walter I don't care. Enough people like my books to keep me going strong.

Trisha which of your books closet to the feelings in your heart?

walter Somewhere in the Darkness

Murad would you write an auto-biography about your self one day?

walter Bad Boy is an autobiography. I probably won't do another

fredy_jason do you wach tv

walter If there are sports on or, sometimes, the history channel.

shadsgurl Are any of your books going to be turned into movies?

walter 145th street stories was optioned and I am presently dealing with whoopi goldberg for the rights to At Her Majesty's Request

Hotgirls20092000 what school did you go to ?

walter I went to Stuyvesant High and then, as an adult, to Empire State College

kipsbay I bet I can beat you in basketball? How about a one on one?

walter I don't play amateurs

Murad Do u like reading

walter I read every day of my life. I love reading, as do most writers

yakp do you enjoy the history channel

walter Sometimes I enjoy the history channel

Ruby do you like drawing

walter No, my wife is an artist and so are my two sons. Christopher is the better known artist in the family

kayla didyour wife ever sing to you?

walter No, she's too shy

Joanne What are your goals now?

walter I want to improve my writing skills and author books which serve the needs and interests of young people

yakp by the way my name is Edmond can u please mention my name in one of your books

walter Will do

Bootleg_harry_potter_from_harlem do you remember when you went to my school? my school is federick douglass academy, on 148th st.?

walter Yes, I do. It's one of the best schools I have ever visited.

Daisy_girl How does it feels to be recognize as someone so smart and full of energy?

walter It's fine, I only wish I knew when I was your age that being smart would be a life time asset

yakp bye walter

fredy_jason what are you scared of

walter Dudes named Jason and dudes named Freddy.

NYPL Thank you for joining us today walter. Do you have anything to add before we go?

walter I only want to say that I have really enjoyed this chat. Y'all come again soon.

NYPL It has been a pleasure. A reminder to our audience: If you did not read the entire chat it will be posted in the chat transcript section of in a few days. And remember to pick up some of walter's books at your local library!

Chat with a librarian now