John Neufeld is a published author of children’s books and young adult books. Some of the published credits of John Neufeld include Edgar Allan, Lisa, Bright and Dark: A Novel, The Handle and the Key, and Freddy’s Book. John also provides political commentary for NPR.
- John, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
No, all I knew was that I wanted to write. Writing for and about and to young readers was an accident, courtesy of the reviewers who first put Edgar Allan in the “juvenile” category. I always thought it was “for all ages.”
- Can you walk us through how you first got started in your career path?
I selected it because English was my best study in school, I enjoyed reading, and I loved writing. Also I liked the idea of being “self-employed” and having no date at which I was forced to retire. When I started, I looked for a job in book publishing, insofar as that was what I loved most: reading and writing.
- How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
Some of the bumps were of my own making, I regret to say. Some weren’t. But what is there to do? If you believe in what you do, you press on and start again.
- I’m wondering if you can help us understand what you attribute your success to.
The understanding that though decades may pass, the problems of youth remain constant. A few good ideas and some great characters whom I love. Also, over the years, I had read and read my “competition” in order to stay up-to-date. I became adept at discussing others’ works and directions, and found respondents. I also wrote often about issues in children’s’ and Y.A. work, and reviewed the same books for The New York Times.
- What do teens need today more than anything else?
A larger sense of the world around them than they have presently. It’s natural that young people believe the universe revolves around them and their interests, clothes, music, ideas. But time to READ is key in a successful life…not just on a screen in front of them, but in newspapers, books, magazines. They have the time. I wish they’d use it to explore outside their schools, blocks, towns, countries.
- John, what would you tell a teen who was struggling?
Calm down. Slow down. Draw back. Get perspective if you can. Find who among our friends is trustworthy and perhaps a little smarter than you are, someone who is daring enough to suggest, advise, listen. This need not be restricted to your own age-group. Find an adult whom you trust, listen, and don’t be defensive. And never turn down an offer or a solution until and unless you’ve had 24 hours to consider it. Learn to distinguish between genuine concern and caring from criticism.
- What else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
I want to be doing exactly what I am doing until “that” time: writing for readers of all ages in all formats, and having fun doing so. You’d be surprised at how much fun it is to watch a character take shape and surprise you by becoming stronger than you are and going off indirections you had not anticipated.
- Can you please share with all of us something else that I should have asked you?
Only one thing. The realization that if you choose writing as a career, you’re entirely on your own. That, of course, is what I wanted, but isolation is not always good for the soul. Get out, look around, and experience life. Otherwise you’ll have nothing or certainly very little about which to write.
- How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
You can find me at johnneufeld.com or via my blog, ”Tap-dancing in the Hall.”
Thanks for your time John and keep up the good work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.
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