Jerry’s Interview

My interview of Jerry Craft, which I SLICED about the planning of HERE, for VSLA went great (if I do say so myself!) Sadly, it wasn’t recorded or I’d share the link with you and my students. Here’s one of his responses, as I recall:

ME: My students loved meeting Jordan and Liam and Drew in New Kid and Class Act. In fact on Monday, my one student came to class and announced, “I finished it!” and handed me back my classroom copy of New Kid. When I asked him to name one thing he really liked about the book, he said the way the mom talks. “She sounds just like my mom. My mom says, ‘Are you going to hook up? Have a playdate” For him, the dialogue sounded so real. Can you talk about your process for both drawing and creating the words/inner thinking found in these two amazing graphic novels?

Jerry: I have one mouth but two eyes and two ears. So I spend twice as much time really listening and really noticing. Then I use all I hear and see as I create my stories. One more thing that allows me to authenically write a story is having my two sons. They read my drafts and are honest. “Dad, that is NOT the way a kid would say that!” They helped me so much with the writing of The Offenders: Saving the World while Serving Detention that he made Jaylen and Aren co-authors.

As I think about Jerry’s writing process, I wonder about my own use of ears and eyes as writing tools. Perhaps today, I will try to be super aware of what I hear and see in various moments. Perhaps today, I will try to be Jerry-like. Perhaps today, as I read comments, I’ll look for Jerry-like dialogue and descriptions written by Slicers. I know I’ll find some!

I work 7-days a week from 10am-3am (yep, not a typo – that until 3AM) from my home office in CT. I’m currently working on the 3rd book to follow New Kid and Class Act. Instead of spotlighting just one characters, this third book will be more like the TV Show, The Office, with lots of characters highlighted. My office walls are covered by bookcases and filled with my books. I sit in front of 3-computer screens and use an electronic tablet and stylist to draw all my comics. As a Black Creator, I feel a responsibility to continue to write and create the books that were not available when I was a child. I write the books my 10-year old self would have loved to read!

How do I interview an author?

When asked, I immediately replied, “Yes!”
But now it is Monday and the interview is Thursday at 4pm.
Now they are asking to preview my questions
But they are only swimming in my mind.

As soon as the school day ends,
I leave and find a quiet spot
Piled next to me are all his books
alongside my notebook where I’ve made some jots.

Krista TIppett, from On Being
always starts asking a childhood question
I can do that, too.
Sonja Cherry-Paul, from The Black Creators series
always ends with this question:
What does it mean to you to be a Black Creator?
I want to ask that, too.

I also have a few questions
from my students
while we did a deep-dive
of all Jerry Craft’s books,
We called it our “Jerry Craft Craft Study”!

My pen quickly filled my notebook page.
Then I typed it all into ten questions,
made a pdf and attached it and pressed send
so the email reaches the conference planners.

With a combinaton of excitement and nervousness
I put a load of laundry into the washer
and planned out what I’ll wear on Thursday.
I get to interview author, Jerry Craft!!


Yesterday I hung up the drawings my 7th graders made by following the step-by-step directions author Jerry Craft provided in his book, Mama’s Boyz. Then I took a photo, uploaded it to twitter with a mesage.

An hour later, I noticed a reply.

I’m still figuring our my relationship with Social Media. Some days I vow to just stop connecting to all of it. Instead, spend that screen-consumed time taking a walk outside. I did stopped using facebook. I haven’t taken time to figured out tik-tok. I use Instagram only to view my daughters’ photos and never post anything there myself. But I do post to twitter. Why? It’s a place where I find great teaching tips and learn about authors’ new books. And today, it allowed me to connect my students with an author in just one hour. Not ready to give up using twitter.