Today I will be interviewing David Tiefenthaler! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me!
First of all, tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a 38-year-old man with a juvenile sense of humor. That’s probably why I teach middle school and write middle grade books. As far as family is concerned, I’m very fortunate to have a lovely wife and three healthy and happy kids ages six, eight, and nine.
What inspired you to become an author?
I like telling stories. Every Monday in my 7th Grade English Language Arts class, we have story time. The students all have to write something interesting about their weekend. I would write with them, and then we share our stories. Somewhere along the line, I decided that I should develop a story loosely based on my middle grade experiences. For about three months during the winter of 2013, I wrote the first draft of O.K. is Great.
What was the main inspiration for your book?
There wasn’t some huge inspiration behind my story. The main thing was I wanted to entertain the readers. I wanted to be the teacher who teaches writing that actually has something written for the world to see. I wanted to practice what I preach in class. Writers write!
Who influenced you the most in life?
My parents. They were so wonderful to me growing up, and continue to encourage me now. As far as being creative, it would be my mom. She motivated me to consistently read, write, and draw growing up. As far as work ethic is concerned, I got that from my father. He taught me the value of hard work, which coincidentally, is one of the messages in my book.
What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
My family is always doing nice things for each other. There’s probably too many to really list. How about one from a couple of students I had this past year. They compiled a list of all the strange things I said over the course of the year and shared it with the rest of the class on the last day of school. I turned it into a top ten list and posted it on my blog. - http://davidtiefenthaler.com/stuff-mr-tiefenthaler-says/ - Here’s an example of something I said to my class, “Any cereal that changes the color of your milk to pink is probably unhealthy, but it also is probably amazing.”
Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
I’ll list three. Neil Gaiman is so fun to read. His fantastical tales are so realistic, creepy, and wonderful. Tom Angleberger is an excellent Middle Grade author, and, of course, I have to say J.K. Rowling. I remember reading one of the Harry Potter books late at night. I set it down and was depressed because there wasn’t much left to read. I never wanted that world to come to an end.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Just do it! I don’t know if that is great advice, but it resonates with me. A fellow teacher told me I should write a book. She said, “You’re talented. Write a book.” That was it. Just hearing that someone else thought I had talent was enough for me to just do it.
Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
I do sometimes, but the music can’t have words. I only want my words in my head. When I’m writing, especially if there is any action going on, I want some techno music. Maybe Daft Punk, Deadmau5, the soundtrack to The Matrix or Tron, or something like that. I’m not exactly sure about the artists because I just let the Pandora techno station I created play.
What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?
I base a lot of the characters on some personality trait of different people I know, so when I’m stuck at a part, I always go back to thinking, “What would he or she say or do here?” Also, with descriptions, when I’m bogged down, I try to imagine the scene as if it was playing in a movie, and then try to describe what my mind’s eye is seeing.
After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?
Yes! The Walking Dead. I just saw the Comic Con trailer for Season Six and want new episodes so bad right now! I also love watching people struggle to survive in Naked and Afraid. That show is so brutal, but it just shows how well we have it in modern society. If the apocalypse comes, and I have to find a way to survive, I’m going to the nearest food distribution site and squirreling away a lifetime supply of Spaghetti-O’s
What are you working on currently?
I already have the second book written in the O.K. series, so I’m currently kicking around ideas for the third book. Check this title. O.K.B.M.L.G.: Otis Kalshwonkee Be Major League Gaming. Otis is going to realize he’s a great gamer at a certain game, so he rounds up a crew of his friends and they go to a video gaming tournament to try and win a bunch of money.
When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?
Play with my kids! They are at such a great age, where their parents are still cool. My wife and I do all sorts of things with them like swim, bike, play kickball, soccer, fish, kayak, cross-country ski, or just play in the yard. We’re trying to avoid the whole traveling sports thing for at least until our oldest gets into middle school, so for now, we can spend quality time with them.
What are some of your most favourite books of all time?
I’ll give you three again. Let’s go with The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This was the first book I read by Neil Gaiman, and his style took me by surprise. I remember reading it on a flight, and I was so into it, I was mad when I had to get off the plane. For number two, how about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. It isn’t like I wanted Voldomort, yes, I said his name, to win, but the situation with the horcruxes and how the wizarding world was falling to pieces had me all knotted up inside. Finally, I’ll go with an older book. The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway was so wonderfully depressing. That’s a perfect book to read during Shark Week, by the way.
Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
I love O.K. For those who haven’t heard about my book, the main character is Otis Kalshwonkee (rhymes with donkey) and everyone calls him O.K. because that’s his initials. He’s this feisty, rambunctious kid that needs to be steered in the right direction. Also, his view of the world is just a bit off kilter, which the reader gets to see in the pictures he draws.
What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?
Right now, I’m reading some graduate school book about how to teach at risk students, and it’s terrible. It’s not even worth mention the name. I’d rather read fan fiction about One Direction than what I have to read currently.
Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
Yes. I want to tackle the tragic and comical world of high school romance. I’ve got more ideas than time, and I’m not sure which idea of mine has the top priority, but I’ve been thinking about writing a YA called TWIRP. There was this dance when I was in high school called The Woman Is Required to Pay (TWIRP) where the girl had to ask the guy out. In my book, two girls are going to ask two guys out, but neither girl is “officially” dating one of the two boys. There are just going as a group. Naturally, the two boys like only one of the two girls, and it just gets messy from there.
What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?
I can dance, kind of. Do you want to watch a video of me teaching the world how to do The Whip and the Nae Nae? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDNKrKJnZiM
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?
Great question! I’ve debated this in my own head for years. I had a subscription to The Uncanny X-Men when I was growing up, and I always thought I would choose the healing powers that Wolverine had. That would be great for me, but then I thought that I probably could help the world more if I had telepathic powers like Professor X.
Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
Get on this O.K. train with me right from the beginning. I hope to make this into a five book series at a minimum. From the feedback and reviews I’ve got so far, I think you’ll really like it.
Where can we find you on social media?
Too many places. I have a problem on social media and need to back away. Something tells me that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/tiefsa
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/tiefsa
Check back later this month as I will be reviewing David's book O.K. is great!