10 Questions for Rob Buyea

Today, I’m spotlighting another amazing Cybils-nominated author (the winners are going to be announced tomorrow! I can’t wait!), this time the author of the amazing Because of Mr. Terupt. Teacher, wrestling coach, father of daughters, and all-around nice guy, Rob Buyea (pronounced Boo-yeah) was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and answer a few questions for me.

MF: First off, the blurb on your book by one of my husband’s favorite authors, John Irving, got me wondering. How did that come about?
RB: John and I first met in the wrestling room at Northfield Mount Hermon School. I coach the team there, and at the time, John’s youngest son was attending NMH. We talked whenever was saw each other on campus over the next year. After I started to get serious interest from editors about Mr. Terupt, I told John that I was a writer. He asked to see my story, read it, and loved it. I’m very lucky to have such a great person in my corner.

MF: Very cool! That is amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about the process (from inception to publication) for the novel?
RB: I was working on a different manuscript when some of the voices first began talking to me. Peter, Jessica, and Luke started in on me first. I tried not to listen to them because as I said, I was working on something else. They didn’t leave me alone, so I began to put their voices on paper. I shared the beginning with some writing colleagues, and then I knew I was on to something. I attended a conference hosted by the SCBWI where there was a first pages panel. Peter’s voice was read and critiqued on the spot. Everyone loved it. I worked to finish the story and sent it out.

MF: Did you always mean to write for a middle grade audience, or did it just happen?
RB:I knew I was writing for a middle grade audience. In fact, I imagined being the teacher standing and reading aloud to his classroom as I wrote the story. I used to love to do that. Many teachers that have used Mr. Terupt as a read-aloud have sent me wonderful emails.

MF: I agree: it would make a great read aloud. Why did you decide to write the story of Mr. Terupt and his classroom from the point of view of several different people rather than a single narrator?
RB: I had finished reading Bat 6 by Virginia Wolff not long before I began Mr. Terupt. I think that had an influence, though I didn’t consciously think about it. Imagine saying to a student, “Tell me about school today.” You’d get twenty different responses from a class of twenty. I had seven kids that wanted to tell you about that year with Mr. Terupt. Naturally, they all had something to say.

MF: I think the different narratives added to the story; it was one of my favorite things about the book. Do you have a favorite character or scene in the book?
RB: No and No. I could never pick a favorite character. One week I’m really thinking about Peter, and then the next it’s Anna, etc. And there are a lot of parts I really liked writing. I had a lot of fun with the dollar words and the scene where you see the principal’s underwear. I liked writing the snowball scene, the hospital scene with Lexie and the other girls, and James with Peter. I also really liked writing about Danielle’s grandmother. She’s important to me.

MF: Is there anything you would like (or hope) your readers take away from reading your book?
RB: I hope it prompts thought and brings laughter. I hope my readers realize there’s much more to their classmates than just what they see in the classroom. I hope my readers have many connections—to self, to classmates, and if they’re lucky, to their own “Mr. Terupt.”

MF: It did remind me of my 5th grade teacher; she was absolutely amazing. How do your experiences as a teacher help you with your writing?
RB: I had lots of students and experiences that spark my imagination.

MF: Is there some one or something that inspires you to write?
RB: I was inspired, not by my own “Mr. Terupt,” but rather by the students I taught. They were amazing—in so many ways. I began writing because of them. Turns out that writing has also filled a void in my life. I trained as a very dedicated wrestler all my life. Once I graduated college and was no longer competing, I felt like something was missing because I wasn’t training. Writing has taken that place. The mental toughness and endurance that went into wrestling now goes into my writing. I love it.

MF: What’s the last book you’ve read and loved (and why)?
Hope Was Here, by Joan Bauer. I read it because it was on Jessica’s mind while I was working on the sequel.

MF: If you don’t mind telling us, what can we expect next from you?
RB: Mr. Terupt Falls Again. Scheduled for a Fall 2012 release.

MF: Thanks, Rob, for your time!


4 thoughts on “10 Questions for Rob Buyea

  1. Thank you for this interview! I'm going to be participating in an Author's Night with Rob in a few weeks (if it doesn't get canceled by snow, again) so I'm waiting until then to buy this book. It sounds wonderful.


  2. Okay, 1st off, Rob reminds me of my cousin- he was a huge wrestler, and they look like they could be cousins if not brothers. I have never read this book,but I am definitely putting it on my list now. It sounds very intriguing. I'm with you on Hope was Here too, that was a great book.

    Thanks for the interview I really enjoyed it!


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