David Lubar grew up in Morristown, NJ, and remembers spending lots of time in the school library, as well as in the town and county libraries.
It was his mother, a school librarian, who introduced him to science fiction authors like Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, and in time Lubar’s interest in science fiction grew to include reading monster magazines, as well as horror comics like Creepy and Eerie, and a lot of fantasy novels.
“Monsters are fascinating,” says Lubar. “They have supernatural powers. They’re dangerous and unpredictable. Monsters give us that tingle that comes from standing on the edge of a cliff. Best of all, they aren’t real. They can scare us, but they can’t hurt us.”
When he was in high school, he submitted stories that he’d written, but they came back. Even so, he didn’t let rejection discourage him from continuing to write and sending out more stories. He was even more determined after graduating from Rutgers College and sent out lots of stories to a lot of places.
“The NY Times has a section called Metropolitan Diary, where they publish light verse,” says Lubar. “That was my first acceptance.”
Soon after receiving his first acceptance, he started selling limericks to a science-products catalog, all the while continuing to write mostly science fiction and short stories for kids. He estimates he must have received about 100 rejections before selling one of his stories to Highlights for Children. His book sales came almost two decades later. First story sale: 1978. First book sales: 1995.
And now he’s the author of more than thirty books including such favorites as The Weenies Collection, Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, and Monsterific Tales, as well as books for older readers, such as Dunk, Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, Sophomores and Other Oxymorons, and his latest, Character Driven.
Lubar loves writing science fiction and fantasy stories, but he loves writing humorous stories, too. (Check out Looniverse Young Chapter Books and Chapter Books like Numbed, Punished, and Dog Days, if you want to read some of his zany tales.)
“Humor is one of the extreme edges of creativity,” he says. “You’re putting together connections that, at first, don’t seem to belong. Then, click, the mind sees the leap, and you laugh. A joke is a miniature invention. A funny scene is as valid as a work of art, and as breathtaking as a sonata.”
The best advice Lubar can give writers just starting out is not to try too hard.
“Let it flow,” he says. “Forced humor isn’t funny. Let the humor arise from the situation. Relax, have fun, and send your inner critic off on an errand.”
Recently, Lubar took a break from his many projects to share his thoughts on writing with wordswimmer.
Wordswimmer: If writing is like swimming… how do you get into the water each day?
Lubar: Coffee, first. No surprise. Then, I dawdle on the Internet in place of dawdling at the water cooler since I work at home. Eventually, when I'm ready to work, I start by rereading whatever I wrote the day before.
Wordswimmer: What keeps you afloat...for short work? For longer work?
Lubar: For short work, it's the thrill of completion. A story can go from idea to execution in a couple hours. (Though the first draft is always drastically in need of mouth-to-mouth.) For longer work, it's the mystery of where things will go. I often dive in without a plan.
Wordswimmer: How do you keep swimming through dry spells?
Lubar: Habit. I've been a freelancer most of my life, mostly because I have no marketable skills. So I can force myself to work during most of the potential dry spells. But there are times when I throw in the towel and accept that I won't be productive that day, or week, or (shudder) month. At least the towel doesn't get wet.
Wordswimmer: What's the hardest part of swimming?
Lubar: Watching someone appear out of nowhere and lap me.
Wordswimmer: How do you overcome obstacles, problems, when swimming alone?
Lubar: I write about them. I call it "rambling on paper." Basically, I discuss the problem by asking and answering questions, but I do it in writing.
Wordswimmer: What's the part of swimming that you love the most?
Lubar: Swimming back across freshly broken waters to see if I can smooth them out a bit with each new lap.
For more information about David Lubar and his work, visit his website: http://www.davidlubar.com/
And check out these sites for more interviews: