Weekly Feature

2016-06-02 / Front Page

Author hopes to inspire future writers, readers


Chandler Chandler Meeting author Matt Chandler is an experience, as students in Winchester Elementary School are about to learn.

“My visits are very interactive — we learn, we have some fun and I get them excited about reading and writing,” the author said. “I’m looking forward to my visit with the students at Winchester Elementary. This will be my first author visit to the West Seneca School District, and I’m excited to meet the students and faculty. We are going to have two amazing days.”

Chandler will be in the school on Monday, June 6, and Tuesday, June 7, to share his story of becoming an author. He hopes his experiences will inspire children to read and pursue their dreams, just as he has done.

“I took a very unconventional path to becoming a writer and overcame long odds, so I really try to reach them and show them they can follow their dreams and achieve anything if they are willing to work hard and never give up,” he said.

“Balloons for Heaven,” written by Matt Chandler, is the book the author said he is most proud of, and the one that is most special to him. “Balloons for Heaven,” written by Matt Chandler, is the book the author said he is most proud of, and the one that is most special to him. Winchester librarian Denise Daley said she is working to coordinate a handful of activities with Chandler to enhance the students’ experience.

“The process of planning an author visit can be rather involved and lengthy and as a result, we only have an author visit our school once every few years. When an author does visit, it is a real treat for us,” she said in an email.

Students of all ages can take something away from Chandler’s author visits, and he said he hopes the students do.

“For me, I love to be in schools with the students. Writing the books is a blessing, but getting to share them with students during my school visits is truly special. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and we have such a great time,” he said.

The presentations are part educational and all free-spirited, according to Chandler, and students are encouraged to ask questions and interact during the session. He also hopes to inspire future readers and writers.

“I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was in the first grade, so it’s really fun to talk to elementary kids,” he said. “I wrote a book when I was in first grade, and we bound them and typed them up and all that, and I actually bring my original book with me.”

“The kids are always interested in how long the process takes from when you write a book to when it actually comes out,” Chandler said.

The writing and editing process is something students have been learning in school, Daley said.

“We are learning about the writing, editing and research process. We are also learning about the process of publishing and printing books,” she said. “There are many enthusiastic and talented young writers at Winchester, and I am hoping that all of the children will be inspired and motivated by Matt’s visit.”

In preparation for the visit, students have been reading Chandler’s books, and they are learning about his experiences as an author. Daley said the children will compare and contrast what they have learned about writing to Chandler’s individual experiences and will also compare his experiences as a writer to their own.

Chandler is a freelance writer, former newspaper editor, frequent public speaker and author of more than 18 books for children.

He has kept busy, with three books slated to be released in August and three released this past February.

“My three most recent that were published were a series on the science of sports,” he said.

Chandler authored three books of a four-book series, covering basketball, baseball and hockey. In August, “Wacky Sports Trivia” will be released as a series targeting younger readers.

While he enjoys sports books, the author said this isn’t the most exciting of his coming projects.

“When I was a kid we had something called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, where you’ve got all the different endings and you’ve got to go through,” he said.

His book “Haunted Alcatraz” was written in this style. He said it was exciting to create a fictional story and weave it into the nonfictional events of Alcatraz.

“It was a lot of fun — 17 different endings and just a lot of interesting stuff. That was a big project and a lot of fun to work on,” he said.

This book is targeting a slightly older reader group — between third and sixth grade — but Chandler said it all depends on the reading level of each child.

“I have kids as young as second or third grade read them and love them,” he said.

Chandler’s books are as varied as his past careers.

“I did a couple of books that were a lot of fun. We call them graphic retellings, but they’re graphic novels, the kind of comic book-style books. I did two of those on World War II spies,” he said. “They’re neat because they’re based on true stories, but I get to fictionalize them and make up the dialogue and what I imagine spies on the run were saying back then. It’s really a neat mix of fiction and nonfiction.”

He said he also has a series coming out that he believes will be popular with young boys.

“I do a lot of sports books. I do a lot of adventure books. … It’s a little harder to get boys typically to want to read, and so one thing that’s exciting about my books is they really tend to draw in boys who might sometimes be more reluctant readers,” he said.

Nothing goes to print without the approval of Chandler’s toughest critics: his two children, Zoey and Oliver.

“They are my absolute best critics. They read everything. They tell me if it’s good,” he said. “They give me a lot of good ideas.”

One idea Chandler said he is working on with his daughter is a series of chapter books for girls.

All books by Chandler can be found on his author website, www.mattchandlerwriting.com. Information on how to schedule an author visit is also available on the site.

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