Michael Buckley is the mastermind behind The Sisters Grimm and NERDS series (no, he’s not the guy on YouTube who presents “What The Buck”, just in case you were confused). Not only that, he has also written and developed shows for channels such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Discovery Channel. The makers of the hit film Gnomeo and Juliet (Rocket Pictures, the production company owned by none other than Elton John) have just bought the film rights to the NERDS series and Michael is going to be writing the script!
So, enough of my babbling now. Here is probably one of my most favorite interviews I’ve ever done. My interview with Mr Michael Buckley:
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
For me, the book THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE by Beverly Cleary was the thing that inspired me to start thinking of writing as a career. I had a librarian give it to me when I was nine and it totally changed my attitude about books. They stopped being homework and started being something I could do for fun.
What made you want to write for young people?
I think my personality is best suited for kids and reluctant readers. I genuinely enjoy things that kids enjoy and I think the stories I like writing are really best suited for children. I think entertaining kids is a good, honest job and I’m very blessed that I get to do it for a living.
You’ve written a cartoon series for Cartoon Network – Robotomy. What was it like writing it with your partner Joe Deasy?
Joe is an amazing writer. His sensibilities are so out there – he really encourages me to take chances with my own writing. He’s hilarious and diplomatic in ways I am not and together we tend to find a very happy balance to our stories. Robotomy was a real challenge to produce but writing it with Joe was really rewarding.
With your book series, The Sisters Grimm, do you plan on writing anymore for the series after the book, Council of Mirrors?
I don’t have any immediate plans but I left the series in a place where I can go back if I want to. I do hear the call of the books – they want me to come back – but I have a lot of other stories I want to tell and I hope my fans and some new ones will come along for the ride.
What made you want to write a screenplay for your series N.E.R.D.S?
Listen, the Hollywood movie making industry is about the weirdest place you can work. Think of it like this – every single movie, no matter how bad, started as the best idea you’ve ever heard. The scripts are usually amazing. But then there are these people who wear suits to work whose job it is to meddle and make-believe they are creative and clever and there are a lot more people in suits than writers and that’s why a lot of movies are terrible. I studied script writing in college and tried my hand a few times. I wanted to write the script in hopes that the suits might not have a chance to make the movie terrible.
Do you have a certain place where you can or can’t write? Like for concentration?
I cannot write at home. I can’t write in very quiet places. I actually need a lot of chatter around me. I usually write in coffee shops. It’s strange but if the setting is too serene my brain shuts down.
What do you do in-between writing?
There is no in-between writing. My life is about telling stories and when one is finished there is another one waiting.
What has been your favourite project to work on?
My new picture book Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stuntshow has been my favourite project so far. It was illustrated by the amazing Dan Santat and together we’ve created something very fun and special. It’s about a 4 year old daredevil and it celebrates the bravery of children everywhere. People have told me their kids want them to read it to them over and over. A mother stopped me in the street and told me the book actually got their kid to start eating broccoli.
Could you let us know about any upcoming projects you have?
I’m working on the fifth and final NERDS book called Attack Of The B.U.L.L.I.E.S. and toying around with a script for a situation comedy. I’m also plotting out a Young Adult trilogy and a multi-book series for middle grade readers set in 1865.
What advice do you have for young people hoping to pursue a career in writing?
The cliche is true – writers write. They do it all the time. They have a notebook they write ideas and words and thoughts and dreams in. Writers read, too – a lot. They read everything. But the best advice I can give a person who wants to write is to have a BIG life. Fill your days with adventures, music, sports, travel – keep yourself busy learning new things. You can’t write about the world if you don’t go out and explore it.
I’d like to thank the always amazing CLIC for this opportunity and of course, Mr Buckley himself for willing to answer my questions.
Image – Abrams Books.