The seeds for Jack’s writing career were planted in sixth grade, when he read his sister’s diary and decided he could write better than she could. He begged his mother for a diary and began to collect anecdotes he overheard at school, mostly from standing outside the teachers’ lounge and listening to their lunchtime conversations. Later, he incorporated many of these anecdotes into stories.
"From the time I received my first journal in elementary school to now I probably have about 200 journals. Most of these 200 journals I keep in boxes in a closet. I don’t go back to them unless I’m really searching for something specific, like when I’m going to write another Jack Henry book that’s set in fourth grade. Then I will go back and pull out my third grade and fourth grade journals, re-read them, pull out the good stuff, the little nuggets."
"I grew up moving constantly. My father was in the Navy when I was younger, then he was in construction. And we moved nearly every year. I saw so many different kids, and I was such a fringe kid myself, always being a new kid, that I always hung around with all the other fringy kids. And the fringe group is a little bit wacky."
His greatest wish in life is to replace trailer parks with bookmobile parks, which he thinks will eliminate most of the targets for tornadoes and educate an entire generation of great kids who now go to schools that are underfunded and substandard.
"When I was very young, I read Golden Books. I’m sure The Pokey Little Puppy was a favorite. And I read whatever I was told to read. As I got older, I read all the books my big sister read because she was a great reader and very smart. By the time I was in middle school, I read my parents’ books."
(All facts are direct quotes from interviews and Jack Gantos' website.)