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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Monday, April 22, 2013 9:30 am
Hostile Questions: Michael Grant
Posted by: Daniel Kraus

HOSTILE LOGOMichael Grant‘s bestselling reign over kid lit stretches from the seminal Animorphs series to the bold new BZRK series. But it was another one of his series that changed the very face of a YA, a series that looked at the literary landscape and said “I am here. I am now. I am forever.” The name of that series? BARF-O-RAMA.

What, you were expecting the Gone series? Gimme a break. Sure, I suppose the Gone books have sold a gazillion copies and inspired dozens of imitators. But those thousands of riveting, action-packed pages are but trifles when placed alongside the effervescent brilliance of BARF-O-RAMA.

Grant and his morning cup o' barf.

           Grant and his morning cup o’ barf.

Who could forget some of the profound, transcendent volumes? The Great Puke-Off. The Legend of Big Fart. Mucus Mansion. Dog Doo Afternoon. It’s no wonder Grant used a pseudonym to publish them — how could he continue to work in the shadow of such spectacular literary success?

Just who do you think you are?

Oh, I’ll tell you who I am: I’m the author of best YA series without the word “Harry” in the title, that’s who I am. GONE. Six books, 3,000 pages, and now that Light is out and it’s all done you know what the fans are saying? Thank you. That’s what they’re saying. Thank you. And occasionally using the “G” word — genius. Of course I humbly decline to accept that label. Unless they absolutely insist. I insist they insist.

Barf-o-RamaWhere do you get off?

Where I get off is a much better question than “how.” I congratulate you on your maturity and delicacy. I get off the 101 at the Tiburon exit. Just look for a shopping center with a Safeway. You can’t miss it. If you do then you’ll have to turn around at Corte Madera and pull a U because there’s only one road to Tiburon. One way in, one way out. I’ve actually war-gamed how to defend the Tiburon peninsula in the event of a zombie outbreak. It can be done with as few as two tanks.

What’s the big idea?

My big idea has been to frighten, disturb, even nauseate young readers. I blame my childhood. It’s rather a long, involved story really, but I’m going to lay it all out right now and I forbid you to cut it in any way. It all began–

What is your problem, man?

I care too much. That’s my problem, I just care so darned much.

Haven’t you done enough?

No. I’ve written or co-authored 150 books, give or take, but it’s never enough. It’s not enough that I succeed, everyone else must fail. By this I mean that all other YA authors must be reduced to penury (which is not a way to get off, despite how it sounds) and I alone must rule the YA world. Ah hah hah hah! Say what? Mad? Did you use the word “Mad”? At least follow it with “Genius.”

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