Ask the Author: Chris Baron
What would you like readers to know about you?
I am a Middle-Grade author, poet, and I have the privilege of working as a professor in the English Department at San Diego City College where I get to be the director of the writing center! Probably my most important job is husband and father to my own 3 MG-aged kids. As the son of an artist who moved place to place as inspiration took hold—I often write with deep connections to place and the challenges associated with it all. I love school visits and connecting with readers!
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
So, ALL OF ME (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan 19) is a Middle-Grade novel in verse. It’s the story of Ari Rosensweig, an overweight, seventh-grade boy who loves cryptozoology and role-playing games. Ari is tired of being bullied and letting his weight define him. His parents’ marriage is struggling. They are too busy to focus on his life, much less help him with his already late bar mitzvah, and things take a turn for the worse. Ari’s mother, a painter and sculptor, decides to open an old gallery at the beach that summer. She puts him on a diet (but this is not the answer), and with the help of some unexpected friends, he tries to make a change physically, but that’s only the beginning of their adventures and the real change that comes.
My next book, THE GIRL BEHIND THE DOOR, (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan 21) is set in the Bay Area, set against the backdrop of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake in a town of refugees who came to America via Angel Island, the book is about a boy who is selectively mute and a girl who won’t leave her house because of a skin condition, and the magical Jewish clay that allows them to help each other.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I want kids to see some part of themselves. I hope readers will learn about empathy and kindness for others, Jewish culture and tradition, but also faith in general, overcoming struggles with body image, friendship, taking risks, and learning more about being brave and being themselves no matter what. I hope readers, especially the young ones, will know that if they are going through difficult things like the characters in the book, they will know that they are not alone.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Some of my favorite scenes are the ones where Ari is talking with the Rabbi. These are the places where he starts to make so many decisions on his own—a real milestone for MG aged kids. It was complex and rewarding to explore that through the verse. I also loved writing scenes with Lisa because she is such a confident character—a foil for Ari—but someone who makes him a better person by challenging him. (and they have so much fun together)
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Books have saved my life–from reading Bridge to Terabithia where I learned that it’s okay for a boy and a girl to be friends, to Narnia and Middle Earth, books have always been there for me even in the most difficult times! I dreamed of telling stories that might stay with people, encourage them, and help them have hope.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Read and get inspired, but don’t compare. Write the story you want to write. Stay with it as much as possible. Give yourself grace in the process, but set goals and keep them. Also—get ready to share your work. Get feedback and keep improving!
ALL OF ME can be purchased through local Indie bookstores, Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as through my publisher https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250305985
I am on Twitter: @baronchrisbaron and IG: christhebearbaron and my website chris-baron.com