Our final book for Al’s Book Club for Kids is “Bud, Not Buddy,” by Christopher Paul Curtis. The main character is ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy, who's had hard times and is on the run. In his search to find his father Bud encounters a mystery man, moments of fear, hunger and even vampires. If you read “Bud, Not Buddy,” as part of Al's Book Club, you may have some questions about the book and the author. Some eager readers sent in questions for Christopher. In his answers, he discusses his writing process, if as a kid he was like Bud and his future novels. Read his responses:
Dear Christopher: I was wondering how many drafts does Christopher typically go through before he considers his work ready for publication?
— Joe Comm, Greensburg, PA
Dear Joe: To be honest, Joe, I never feel like the manuscript is ready for publication. I can always find something that can be improved or added to or taken away from. Knowing when the manuscript is finished is one of the hardest things for a writer to do. I go through dozens of revisions then finally throw my hands up in the air and hope I've done enough to make it readable.
Dear Christopher: How did you know about Loogootee, Indiana? It’s one of the places the band played. My mother was born there, but not many people outside of Southern Indiana know about this place nowadays. It seems unusual that a traveling band would play there. — Sue, Anchorage, Alaska
Dear Sue: My grandfather on whom the character of Herman is based was born in Indiana and I imagined that anyplace with a name as cool as Loogootee deserved a visit by a band with six exclamation points. I like unusual names, Sue, if I could've found a way to have the Devastators visit Bug Tussle I would have.
Dear Christopher: Did you get into trouble like Bud when you were a boy? — Brent Gilmore, Huntersville, NC
Dear Brent: I don't know if I'm more shocked or offended! I was a perfect child growing up, despite what you may have heard from my siblings and parents I was a role model from day one! Seriously, I was pretty much a chicken growing up and wouldn't dare do too many things that my folks disapproved of.
Dear Christopher: I have read all of your books and look forward to sharing them this Fall with my fourth graders. Do you have plans on continuing the Watson’s or Bud’s stories in the near future? If not, what ideas are you considering for future books? — Susan Fabrizio, Plainville, CT
Dear Susan: Thank you! It's always great to hear that teachers are finding my books helpful. I really don't plan to do anything with the Watsons in the near future, I think they've been through enough. I am doing a spin off of Bud though. When I visit schools I'm often asked by young women, "How come you haven't done a book about a girl?" so my next book from Wendy Lamb Books will be the story of the young woman with whom Bud shares a kiss. I think it will be called Deza Malone. Also this fall my book “Elijah of Buxton” is coming out. It is the story of the first young man born free in a settlement of former slaves in Canada. That will be out in September or October.
Dear Christopher: How did you come up with the characters in ‘Bud, Not Buddy’ — Emily Hendricks, Bellevue, WA
Dear: Emily: Thank you for the question, Emily. One of the really fun things about being a writer is using your imagination. I can make characters out of whole cloth, I can pattern them after someone I know or I can put bits and pieces of myself in the characters I use. In “Bud not Buddy,” with the exception of Lefty Lewis and Herman E. Calloway, most of the characters were made up and spiced with little scraps of personalities of friends and acquaintances. "Inventing" these people and giving them names is one of my favorite parts of the writing process.