SSTN Interviews Author Dan Gutman
We are here with Dan Gutman author of a host of great books about baseball including Baseball’s Greatest Games, World Series Classics, The Sandlot Series, the Baseball Card Adventure Series, and Casey Back at Bat. He’s also known for his series The Genius Files, and My Weird School.
Welcome to SSTN Mr. Gutman. Let’s begin with an easy question that many readers will want to know. Where can people find your books to purchase?
People can get my books at any good bookstore, but for the older books they’ll have better luck at Amazon or other online booksellers.
Please tell us a little about how you became an author.
I started writing when I was about 25 years old. I’m 64 now. I started after I finished college (I was a psych major) and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I always enjoyed writing letters to my friends, so I just decided to start writing. That’s how I got started, at first writing for adults. Then, ten years later when my son Sam was born, I decided to try writing for kids. Now I just write for kids.
What advice would you give to a student in school who wishes to follow in your footsteps and also become an author?
Read my book “My Weird Writing Tips.” But also, read everything you can get your hands on. Observe the world around you. Be curious. Write for fun. Keep a diary. Write every day. Rewrite every day!
My children are all grown now, but I read many of the Baseball Card Adventure Series to them as bedtime stories. We loved them all. In that series you wrote stories of Joe Jackson, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner, Satchel Paige, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Babe Ruth, among many others. Which of these great players did you most enjoy writing about? Why?
My favorites were the most colorful personalities—Ruth, Williams, Paige. They gave me a lot of great quotes and material to work with.
As a child growing up, I was a big fan of Matt Christopher’s books. The Kid Who Only Hit Homers was my favorite. In fact, I just finished reading that book (on video due to the school closing) to a third-grade class in my school. Who were your favorite authors growing up?
I wasn’t a big reader as a kid. I thought reading was boring and hard to do. I guess that’s why I relate well to reluctant readers today. But I do remember reading the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig books in the “Childhoods of Famous Americans” series. I always liked biographies.
Each year I read baseball picture books in the spring to our second graders. I always include Casey Back At Bat. That’s such a fun book. Can you share why you wrote that new update on the old classic Casey At The Bat?
Yeah. In the original “Casey,” he strikes out, of course. So for some reason, I thought it would be funny for Casey to get another chance, and have him humiliate himself in some OTHER way. Because he’s a loser, right, and he should always lose. So I thought it would be cool if he actually connected and hit the ball so hard that it went around the world and came back to the ballpark to be caught for a fly ball out.
The kids love that story, I can tell you first-hand.
Can you tell us if you have any works in progress? Are any of these about baseball?
I just finished a book about Harry Houdini. It has nothing to do with baseball, but it is another time travel story, and it has a title much like my baseball card adventures—“Houdini & Me.” It will come out next year.
In the book and the movie The Natural, the main character wants nothing more than to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.” Who was the best baseball player you ever saw?
Hmmm. Tough one. Clemente? Mays? Rickey Henderson? Jeter? Hard to say.
Our final question is really just a collection of short answers…
What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
I’m sorry to tell you this, but I have always been a Mets fan. When I was a kid, Mickey Mantle and the Yankees were on top of the world. But I like to root for underdogs.
Who was your favorite player?
Cleon Jones, the left fielder. He hit .340 and made the last out of the 1969 World Series.
What is your most prized collectible?
I’m not a big collector. I get more pleasure out of throwing stuff away than I do from saving things. But my hobby as a kid was photography, and I saved the cameras from my youth.
Who is your favorite musical group or artist?
The Beatles. My wife and I are such big fans, we made a pilgrimage to Liverpool a few years back. I’m also a big blues fan.
What is your favorite food (if it is pizza, what is your favorite pizza restaurant)?
Watermelon! I eat tons of it!
Please share anything else you’d like with our audience –
If people would like to know more about me or my books, I hope they will visit my web site (www.dangutman.com), my Facebook fan page, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram @dangutmanbooks.
Mr. Gutman, this was terrific. Thank you so very much for joining me here at SSTN.
I wish you only success in your writing.
Keep up the great work!