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No ‘write’ way: Authors visit Rollins

Bush 176 buzzed with excitement as students of all majors came together to listen to authors James Ponti and Stuart Gibbs. On Feb. 10, these middle-grade fiction authors visited Rollins to discuss their experiences with the publishing industry, providing advice on how to pursue a creative career. 

The two authors have followed somewhat similar career paths as they both have experience writing for television. Ponti worked for over twenty years as a writer and producer in television, working for Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and PBS, in addition to producing shows for History Channel, Spike TV, and Golf Channel. Now, he is the author of the series City Spies, Framed!, Dead City, and the upcoming Sherlock Society. Before becoming an author, Gibbs studied capybaras. Now, he writes for television and film and is the author of the series Spy School, FunJungle, Charlie Thorne, Moon Base Alpha, and The Last Musketeer.  

At the writers’ talk, both authors discussed how there is no single, perfect route toward a career in writing. Whether you start out working for a publishing house, writing for television, or pursuing a career in a completely different field, anyone can become a writer.  

“Any experience you have is research,” said Gibbs. 

Gibbs shared that no matter what field you start out in, any knowledge you gain can be used as material in writing. This is why writers stem from a variety of backgrounds.  

The authors also provided unique insight into the writing process. 

“A lot of writing is figuring out your story,” said Gibbs. 

Ponti and Gibbs shared that when they craft the ideas for their novels, much of the writing occurs when they are not at the computer as extensive thought goes into the planning process before they even sit down to write.  

“You have to be honest with yourself about the work,” said Ponti. 

According to Ponti, writing takes dedication and persistence. He shared that writers should try to write at least five days a week, though sometimes it can be difficult to find motivation.  

Ponti and Gibbs explained what they think is unique about writing middle-grade novels. According to Ponti, one aspect of the genre that makes it special is the people involved. 

“The middle-grade community is so small and so tight,” said Ponti. 

The talk showed students that there is no right way to pursue a career as a writer: anyone in any field can be a writer if they have the passion. 

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