North Texas Teen Book Festival, Dallas’s premiere literary event, highlights young adult and middle grade literature. The festival is running in its fourth year and will be held at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas in northwest Dallas on Saturday, April 21. This year’s guests include authors such as Cassandra Clare, Jenny Han, Lauren Myracle, David Levithan, and more!
We had the pleasure of interviewing Texas-based middle grade and young adult lit author, Jeramey Kraatz. He has published The Cloak Society and Space Runners series and has been part of the North Texas Teen Book Festival since its beginning.
What inspired you to write Space Runners and The Cloak Society series?
Most everything I write is in some way inspired by the stuff I wanted to read when I was a kid. I was a total comic book geek, which is actually how I got into reading: when I couldn’t get my hands on more issues of Uncanny X-Men, I’d go to my librarian and ask which books we had that had superpowers and adventure in them. The Cloak Society is a book for any middle grader who’s obsessed with superheroes and villains, while Space Runners speaks to my geeky Star Wars-loving heart.
Is there a genre in YA or MG literature that you’d like to dabble in?
Horror. I’m a huge horror buff, but I’ve never actually tried to write anything scary.
Do you have any books you’re currently working on?
Always! Right now I’m working on the fourth-and-final Space Runners book, and a secret project that’s kind of creepy in an occult/reincarnated body sort of way.
You’ve been part of NTTBF since its first year in 2015. How did you first get involved?
I do events with the Irving Library whenever I can, because they are legitimate librarian superstars. When I first heard they were talking about getting a festival together, I basically cornered everyone involved and begged to be a part of it.
What is your favorite part of being a part of NTTBF?
As an author, how can I not be excited to see THOUSANDS of kids, teens, and adults who love books. It’s re-energizing, and reminds me why I do what I do—and how lucky I am to get to be up on that stage.
What is your role at this year’s NTTBF?
I’m on some panels with AMAZING authors, and am doing some one-on-one stuff with readers. I will also be fanboying in the green room over authors I love, probably making a fool out of myself while gushing about their books.
You once interned for Marvel Comics in the X-Men Editorial Department. What was that experience like?
For a guy who had X-Men bed sheets growing up and still has a twenty-five-year-old poster of Gambit up in his office, it was a nerdy dream come true. I ate lunch in a cafeteria called the Danger Room every day! I got so many free comics! I knew [redacted for spoilers] was going to get killed six months before readers did! And, of course, I learned so much about storytelling, plot structure, and character development while I was there. It’s actually where I got my first inkling of an idea for The Cloak Society.
Favorite (past and current) fandoms? Go!
I’ll be an X-Men fan until I die, and am a total fannibal (Hannibal was the best show on television in the last five years. Fight me.). I currently adapt the English dub scripts for an anime called My Hero Academia, and the fandom for that is so incredible. I’m lucky to get to work on a show that I consider myself a fan of.
You studied advertising and English in undergrad and then nonfiction writing at the graduate level at TCU and Columbia University, respectively. What advice do you have for teens looking into universities to attend for writing/English/etc.?
Actually do the reading. That seems like a gimme, but I coasted through a lot of classes via SparkNotes, and didn’t realize until much later how much I was missing out on. Don’t be afraid to let your professors know if you have creative ways to approach assignments. And try to find a writing community while you’re there. You’ll miss being immersed in a pool of creativity when you’re gone.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read everything you can, even the stuff you don’t like (if you can identify why you don’t care for, you can avoid it in your own writing). Also, don’t be afraid to write “badly.” Word-vomit all over the page if you need to! That’s what revision is for. Sometimes the easiest way to sail through a roadblock is just to say “I’ll fix this in post” and soldier on.
The one-day event is free and open to the public, so get to the convention center early!