Continuing the conversations with our visiting authors and filmmakers, The Great Books Summer Program sat down with Nathan Bransford about his reading and writing life.
Nathan Bransford is the author of the Jacob Wonderbar series, including, most recently, Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe. He was formerly a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and is now the social media manager at CNET.
GBSP: What role did literature play in your childhood?
NB: I was an avid read growing up – I read everything I could get my hands on. I grew up in a very small town in rural Northern California, where I didn’t even have easy access to new books, and I think reading was a way of opening up the world and imagining all that is possible.
GBSP: Did any parent, teacher, or program foster a love of books?
NB: All of the above – my parents, teachers, the local Read-a-Thon… it seemed everywhere I turned there was someone willing to give me a great book and encourage my love of reading.
GBSP: What was your favorite book as a teenager? Which writers inspired you?
NB: Oh wow, I had many favorites, but as a teenager my favorite was probably Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was and is a big inspiration. Other writers that influenced me were Roald Dahl, Sid Fleischman, and Bill Watterson, who wrote the Calvin and Hobbes comics.
GBSP: Did you always want to be a writer?
NB: I didn’t, actually, I came to writing relatively late. I always loved reading and editing, and I actually still think I’m probably a better editor than writer. But when I was in my mid-twenties I decided to write a novel, and while the first one I tried didn’t work out, the next one did. I think I surprised myself. It just goes to show that it’s never too late to start writing.
GBSP: If you could give one piece of advice to young writers, what would it be?
NB: Keep at it – novels don’t just spring forth fully formed, it takes a great deal of practice, patience, and perseverance. It’s like learning an instrument or sport. The only way to become better is to keep doing it.