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December 1, 2014

Neal Shusterman Attends Centennial

by Aidan Reilly

Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind “dystology,” the Skinjacker trilogy, and many more, visited Champaign last week. He spoke at Central, Centennial, and Jefferson, as well as the public library.

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Shusterman was running late as he came into room 119 at Champaign Centennial’s south side. Many of the students were eager to get a chance to meet with one of their favorite authors. An author who helped spring the teenage dystopian fiction movement that has recently been crowding shelves and screens alike. Sonie Toe, a senior, gave a lovely opening address to welcome Neal Shusterman to our school.

Shusterman was very relaxed when he came, gently leaning against a table at the front of the room. He opened himself up to the students in an open discussion format that allowed curious fans to engage their favorite author. Questions focused mainly on Schusterman’s most notable works, the “Unwind” dystology, but Schusterman gladly answered all sorts of impositions, including mine.

The Centinal: You wrote a letter to E.B. White and received an encouraging response, how did he influence you to continue writing?

Neal Shusterman: “I enjoyed writing to all writers I read, and enjoyed getting feedback. I kept that letter to remind me of kids who write to me, and I try my best to respond to all the fan mail I recieve.

The Centinal: As a “dystopian” fiction/fantasy writer how do you research your subjects?

Neal Shusterman: Especially for the Unwind series I took the present state of the world and ampilified it so that I could dramatize the world and find a way to expose its problems, in this case it was the abortion discussion.

The Centinal: How does your personal life influence  your writing?

Neal Shusterman: I try my best to keep my writing separate from family, but sometimes I discuss ideas with my children and try and see what they think about it. One instance where my work was influenced was my novel “Bruiser” in which a family is going through a troubling divorce. At the time of writing this I was going through a divorce and I tried to express an understanding of that process through my writing.

The Centinal: Who are your top 5 authors?

Neal Shhusterman: (Laughs) Oh that’s a hard one, Kurt Vonnegurt, Douglas Adams, Orson Scott Card, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis

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