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Author Profile: Alan Gratz

Each month, we research our authors so that you can learn more about their background and how their stories came to life.



Where he comes from & where he is now: Gratz was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee and now lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Where he studied:  Gratz earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing from the University of Tennessee.  He returned to the University of Tennessee for his Master’s degree in English.

You might know him from: Gratz’s previous novels have received a large amount of acclaim.  His YA and middle grade novels Samurai Shortstop Something Rotten Something Wicked The Brooklyn Nine have all been featured on ALA’s top lists. Prisoner B-3087 , his middle grade novel about the Holocaust, was one of YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Readers.

When’s he’s not writing: Gratz has done pretty much everything else relating to literature: he spent six weeks teaching historical fiction writing to middle school students as the first Artist in Residence at the American School in Japan in 2010.  He has also served as the Writer in Residence at the Jakarta Intercultural School in Indonesia.  He writes in many mediums: plays, magazine articles, tv, and radio commercials.  He’s also lectured at a Czech university.  But when he’s home, he “enjoys playing games, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, reading books.” - Gratz’s biography

Gratz on writing:  [How do I become a writer?] Well, you sit down at your computer and start writing.  If you want to write well , I suggest you a) spy on your friends and family and listen to the way people talk, b) keep your eyes open and watch everything that happens in the world around you, c) always start in the middle of the action, d) make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and an end, e) read a lot and imitate your favorite authors.  Note I didn’t say copy what they write - just how they write.  And did I mention you actually have to sit down at your computer or your notebook and start writing?” -Gratz

There’s so much more to know: Check out the FAQ section of Gratz’s website where he speaks about each of his books, his reading habits, and his writing tips.