Book Nerd Interview
I’m originally from the suburbs just south of Richmond, VA. Mom was a nurse. Dad worked in the tobacco industry. Growing up I always knew I wanted to do something artistic but it wasn’t until I started writing poetry and short stories in Junior High that something really stuck. Towards the end of Junior High I attended the University of VA’s Young Writers Workshop, which is basically writers’ camp, for a couple summers. If you’re a teen into writing definitely check it out.
I wrote throughout High School but was also pretty wrapped up in the process of becoming a big ol’ theater nerd. I wrote stuff and directed plays and performed in shows like Indians, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Taming of the Shrew, The Man of La Mancha and various others.
After HS I went to study acting at East Carolina University then moved to New York right after that to ply my new trade. A few years later writing reared it’s head again and I left NY and headed out to UC San Diego where I got an MFA in playwriting.
A year or so after grad school I started reading books from writers like M.T. Anderson, KL Going, and David Almond and was blown away by the quality of writing that was going on for teen audiences. I was hooked. The first book I wrote was an adaptation of my play The Real Names of Rock Stars. It was about a teenage girl who runs away from home to become a rockstar under the tutelage of a 6 foot tall drag queen named Veronica Tresbien. It was a learning experience. Basically what it taught me is that I really really loved writing books for teens but shouldn’t necessarily be writing books about teenage girls who become rockstars while under the tutelage of statuesque drag performers. Luckily that’s a lesson you really only need to learn once. I stuck that book in the drawer (where it shall remain until the end of time) and six months later I had the first draft of what eventually became The Eleventh Plague.
Now I’m back in New York with my wife (Super rad sewing blogger Gertie) and I’m working on my next books!
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Like a lot of writers I can trace my writing back to an assignment in school. In the 7th or 8th grade my English teacher assigned a one-page short story. I had a lot of fun doing it and she encouraged me to keep at it and now here I am!
In your new book; Magisterium, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Magisterium is about a world where reality has been split in two. On one side of “The Rift” is a technological paradise while on the other is, well, no spoilers here. Magisterium follows a young girl named Glenn who lives with her father. He used to be a Steve Jobs like inventor but ever since Glenn’s mom left them ten years ago he’s become a recluse obsessively working on a mysterious invention. Late one night he wakes Glenn to tell her he finally made it work and they’re going to use it to get her mother back. Before he can explain, the authorities come and arrest him, but not before he can pass a piece of his invention on to Glenn, sending her and her best friend Kevin Kapoor on the run to the other side of The Rift.
For those who are unfamiliar with Glenn, how would you introduce her?
Glenn is a very brilliant but very troubled 16 year old girl. She has a tendency to be a little selfish and closed off but over the course of the story she learns how to be much more than that.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
Honestly? Because I thought it would be a heck of a lot of fun. There’s stuff in there about duality and responsibility and the pain of growing up, but more than anything I wrote it because I thought it just might end up being awesome.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Yes, two coming up. I have another YA coming out in the Fall of 2013. Still working on the title but it’s a story about a kid named Cal growing up during the Second American Civil War. In early 2014 I’ll also be putting out the second book in the final series of The 39 Clues.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
No contest. My wife, Gretchen.
What’s your most missed memory?
I’m happy to say I don’t spend too much time thinking back to what was. Now is pretty cool and soon seems like it might be nice too.
What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
Anything crunchy and salty.
Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.
With MAGISTERIUM, Jeff Hirsch brings us the story of a complex, captivating world that will leave readers breathless until the very last page.
The world that author Hirsch has built is amazingly remarkable. It is effectively vivid that readers will see it through the eyes of Glenn. Although Glenn’s world is full of out-of-this-world technology and science, the provided descriptions make it easy to imagine her unique world. It gets more intense once she crosses into the unknown side of the Rift, the Magisterium, where magic and religion takes a new turn for Glenn. She finds herself questioning a world where people pray to different Gods and putting their lives in the hands of faith
Magisterium is the ultimate thought-provoking book that will have readers thinking about their own life and the universe they live in. Although it is packed with action and supernatural elements, the principal message is powerful. The difference in both worlds, one of science and logic and the other of myth and legend, is something that each reader will have to come to on their own. Hirsch’s writing style is brilliant and makes this compelling story easy to follow and fully appreciate the message behind it. It ended perfectly yet left enough questions to open the possibility for a second book. My thoughts were certainly provoked and this is the kind of book that is recommended to any reader.