From experiencing space, visiting distant lands and solving mysteries, Stuart Gibbs has done it all — well, his characters have.
Gibbs, a New York Times best-selling author of five middle school series books, visited Arroyo Seco, La Mesa and Rancho Pico junior high schools in the William S. Hart Union High School District on Thursday. Gibbs presented his series of books, “Spy School,” “FunJungle,” “Charlie Thorne,” “Moon Base Alpha,” and “The Last Musketeer” and answered questions about his career.
Students of Arroyo Seco Junior High School were excited and listened attentively as Gibbs gave an overview of his series of books.
“The first thing to know is that I really wanted to be an author my entire life,” Gibbs said. “My inspirations have come from different points in my life.”
For example, Gibbs’ “Spy School” series was inspired by James Bond. When Gibbs was younger, he watched a James Bond movie with some friends.
He said he later wrote a story focusing on a young spy, who would be Bond’s child, and that idea stayed with him for many years until it resurfaced as “Spy School.”
Gibbs also mentioned how his love for animals and history play an important role in books. He recalled his college experience working and studying at the Philadelphia Zoo.
“I spent a lot of time at the zoo,” Gibbs said. “I was there before it opened in the morning or after closing.”
Animals are fascinating to Gibbs, which is why he wrote the “FunJungle” series. He tries to incorporate as many facts and information about animals whenever he can into most of his books.
Gibbs also talked about a close friend of his, Gary, who he met in college. According to Gibbs, Gary was the smartest guy he’d ever met. After working hard, Gary pursued his goal of becoming an astronaut.
“It’s cool for me to have one of my closest friends become an astronaut because I got to do some cool astronaut things,” Gibbs said. “I was training down in Houston at the Johnson Space Center. I’d go down there and hang out. I got to do some training.”
The advice he gave to junior high students was that life fuels inspiration. Most of his books came from the love he has for animals, characters like James Bond and his friendships.
After talking about his books, the question-and-answer portion began. Students’ hands shot into the air wanting to know a variety of things including Gibbs’ favorite animal, favorite book of his, his writing process, future work and how to publish a book.
Principal Andy Keyne, of Arroyo Seco, said they usually host author visits, but this one in particular had “by far the largest student turnout.”
“It’s important to promote literacy and reading,” Keyne said. “It helps students to see the process come to life, and they have a better understanding of the writing process as well.”
Students also had the opportunity to purchase books and get a signed copy, too, he added. Keyne thanked Sarah Godwin, the librarian, for making Gibbs’ visit possible.
According to Goodwin, she connected with Marueen Palacios, owner of Once Upon a Time bookstore. Through Palacios’ connections, they were able to invite Gibbs to the Hart district’s junior high schools.
“It’s important to have these opportunities for our students to understand and learn more about creative career opportunities,” Goodwin said. “We’re just thankful to the bookstore for this opportunity and our administration and staff for bringing the students.”