Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, September 19, 2016

An Inside Look #16 (My Seventh Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin)

An Inside Look - With Brooks Benjamin
Author of My Seventh Grade Life in Tights

*Another Monday, means another "inside look" with an author.

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" with them about their novel, the characters, and their thoughts about the story.

*I have had such fun connecting with authors and "picking" their brains.

*Here are the links to the first FIFTEEN interviews…

*I had the best summer of reading.  I read so many incredible books and connected with really cool authors.

*One of my favorite reads was My Seventh Grade Life in Tights.  I had heard such great comments about the book and couldn't wait to read it.

*Before and after reading the book I had some wonderful interactions with Brooks via Twitter.  He is kind, gracious, and cool guy.

*It was exciting when Brooks agreed to be a part of my "Inside Look" blog series.

*Here are his responses to my questions about his novel...

My Seventh Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin (Released April 12, 2016)

How did you come to know Dillon?
Dillon actually grew out of a personal experience I had in middle school. In sixth grade I started a dance crew called the New Kidz. We danced exclusively to NKOTB music. I know, I know. Super cool, right? Too bad not everyone thought it was. Eventually, I became inspired to take that experience and turn it into a character with just as many big dreams and awkward dance moves as I had back then.

What do you think is Dillon's most admirable quality?
I think Dillon's has to be honesty. Not only to his friends but to his parents, his enemies, and to himself. It gets him into as much trouble as it does help him throughout the book, but it's something I definitely admire about the little fellow.

Is there anything you wish Dillon would have changed or done differently in his story?
There are about a million things I wish Dillon would've done differently. But that hindsight thing's pretty tricky because if he could go back and do all of those things and make all the right decisions and not say those particular words that ended up halfway crushing his entire seventh-grade world, it just wouldn't have been as interesting.

Although, checking his football pants for embarrassing mud stains before that first competition would've been a good idea.

What do you think Dillon can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what he went through?
I think Dillon can offer a multitude of bad decisions. And, of course, with those he can offer the bits of wisdom that come from them. Little things like the understanding that there's no such thing as normal, everyone's style is different, and the best thing you can do is get out there and find the moves that fit you.

How did you research Dillon and the circumstances he found himself in?
Most of my research fell into the realm of dance studios and competitive dance. I had no experience with that, so I relied heavily on my students and friends who did dance competitively. Going to some competitions was so much fun and it really opened my eyes to that world. I knew it was serious, but I had no idea it was S-E-R-I-O-U-S.

Do you and Dillon share any similarities?
Besides the weird dancing? Sure. We're both Pisces, soft-hearted, dreamers, and big-time romantics.

What was the hardest scene to write about Dillon?
Oh dang. There are a lot of scenes that were tough, but I think the one that was the hardest was when he makes a decision about his future on the Dizzee Freekz (the dance crew he's on). That one was pretty excruciating because it not only affected him, but his best friends, too.

Who do you think was Dillon’s biggest supporter and why?
Without a doubt, Kassie. She's the leader of the crew and the whole reason Dillon started dancing in the first place. She saw him working on his green-belt kata one day and decided he had the grace of a dancer, the kicks of a ninja, and the artistic potential to be a true Dizzee Freek.

In your opinion, why do you think middle-grade and middle-school children have such a hard time just being themselves and not conforming to “peer-pressure”?
Because this is when we begin to slowly remove ourselves from the image of what our parents and teachers expect of us and into the world of self-identity. But it's not this graceful transition at all. It's like it happens to fast, we're basically drowning in it, so we latch onto the identities around us for support. We assimilate for comfort and safety. It's not pretty and it's comes with a whole slew of problems, but it's just part of the process. Eventually, we begin to find ourselves, though, and when that happens, it's a wonderful thing.

What do you think Dillon is doing as this present time?
Right now he's heading into eighth grade. He's still on the Dizzee Freekz and they're working on their new routine. Of course, they're semi-celebrities because of Austin's zombie movie, but they never let it go to their heads. Well...maybe a little. But that's okay. They've earned it. :)

Brooks Benjamin Website

My Book Review 

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