Monday, December 8, 2008

5 Quick Questions for Dennis Shull

Though Dennis is a teacher and librarian, I know him through his role as director extraordinaire of local church community theater productions. His interests are quite varied, as you will see below.

1. What do you do for a living and what do you like best about your job?

I'm a "retired" teacher, who spent 20 years teaching English, Speech & Drama, and Shop at the junior high level, then became a librarian and technology coordinator at the high school level for the last 10 years. At present, I still work for the same school district part-time, taking care of the adaptive technology needs for the blind and disabled kids in the district one day a week, and trouble-shooting technology needs at the district's new high school one other day. The rest of the week I work for a company that produces decorated sportswear, maintaining their line of sample garments, and manning the Help Desk for their sales representatives. As you might have guessed, I'm only content when my work environment is busy and varied. The thing I like best about my work is that every day is different, and each day usually brings a new challenge.

2. Besides for simple information, why do you read?

I love the seclusion and and introspection that reading allows... I delight in discovering a character who thinks and feels as I do, and then traveling down the literary road with him to further self-discovery...
And there's nothing more exiting than jumping on the magic carpet of imagination and following a complex character through a richly-textured adventure.

3. What did you read when you were a teen?

These are the names that come to mind, because at some point in my life, I read one book—and then wanted to read anything else by the same author:

Robert Heinlein
John Steinbeck
Mark Twain
Kurt Vonnegut
C.S. Lewis

And yet, the books that truly changed my life were often times one-hit wonders, like To Kill a Mockingbird, Watership Down, or Flowers for Algernon.

I also read a lot of comic books. ( I'm a firm believer that reading is reading: teens should read whatever level of literature appeals to them. They'll get to the "classics" when they're ready.)

If only these Young Adult authors had been available back in the Dark Ages when I was a teenager, I know I would have devoured every word they penned:

Robert Cormier
Chris Crutcher
Will Hobbs
Lois Lowry
Chris Lynch
Norma Fox Mazer
John Marsden
Gary Paulsen
Katherine Paterson
Philip Pullman
Cynthia Voigt

4. What book(s) do you wish you had read as a teen?

I really have no regrets. (See my "comic book" note above.)

5. What are you working on now?

It's been a dry spell. I've read lots of books in the past six months,but these are the only ones I'd recommend:

Our Story Begins, a new anthology of short stories by Tobias Wolff, Lush Life by Richard Price (dark, violent, and full of raw language), The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos (also dark, violent, and full of
raw language), Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler

Thank you, Dennis!

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