Dan Poblocki, the award-winning and popular author of more than a half-dozen scary thrillers for middle-grade readers, will visit the Westbury Memorial Public Library on Saturday, May 31 at 2 p.m.. During his visit, Poblocki will read from and hold a discussion on his books The Ghost of Graylock and The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe.
“We are very excited for Dan Poblocki’s visit,” said Head of Children’s Emily Farrell. “His books are extremely popular with our middle grade readers and we hope to have a great turnout for the event.”
Poblocki, who began writing short stories as a teenager, published The Stone Child, his first book with Scholastic Press, in 2010. Since then, he has penned eight top-selling books, including The Ghost of Graylock, The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe, The Nightmarys and the three-book series The Mysterious Four. Poblocki’s latest work, The Book of Bad Things, is set to hit bookstores, libraries and online outlets this fall and he is currently working on another novel, which will be released next year.
While all of Poblocki’s books thus far are scary thrillers for middle-grade readers, the author admits he is open to different genres. “I’m lucky that my brain is always churning with new ideas, many of which are nothing like the scary books I’ve already published,” he said. “I hope that one day I’ll be able to tell some of these stories as well. That being said, I do love a good scary story.
Born in Providence, RI, Poblocki moved to Basking Ridge, NJ when he was 11 years old, attending the William Annin Middle School and Ridge High School before attending Syracuse University where he majored in acting. “I received a BFA in acting, which I promptly regretted when I moved to New York and discovered I hated auditioning,” the Brooklyn resident said. “I soon realized that I needed a different creative outlet.”
That outlet – combined with a love of picture books and a history of short story writing in high school – led Poblocki to the School of Visual Arts where he took a class taught by author and illustrator Brian Floca who, earlier this year, received the American Library Association’s prestigious 2014 Caldecott Medal for his book Locomotive. “Back then, he was just a regular, amazing author and illustrator. He gave me lots of helpful hints about storytelling and art,” Poblocki said.
Toward the end of the semester, Floca invited his friend David Levithan, a Scholastic Book editor and young adult author who recently was named a Lambda Literary Award winner and a National Book Award nominee, to come speak. “One night, we all ran into each other in Brooklyn and became friends,” Poblocki said. “David opened my eyes to the possibility of writing for young people and he’s been instrumental in helping me realize this dream.”
Growing up, Poblocki was a fan of children’s authors Roald Dahl, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Bruce Coville, Alvin Schwartz and Mary Downing Hahn, among many others, with John Bellairs being his absolute favorite. “I’ve read The House With a Clock in Its Walls and The Figure in the Shadows dozens of times. I love his mix of creepy and comforting,” he said. “In fact, I love him so much I based the character of the missing author in my book The Stone Child on a Bellairsian writer.”
An avid reader still, Poblocki said that although he finds himself leaning toward digital books these days due to space constraints, there’s still nothing like holding a real book in his hands. “One of my favorite activities is glancing through books stacked on shelves. They’re little art objects; very special. And, if a book is especially beautiful, I make a point to own a physical copy of it,” Poblocki said, adding that there is no better feeling than seeing his books on a library or bookstore shelf.
“The first time, it was like I was dreaming and I still feel that way. It makes me happy knowing that my stories have little lives outside of my own head and seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore or library is proof!”
Poblocki’s book discussion and signing at the Westbury Library is free and open to the public. The event will begin at 2 p.m. and is set to also include a question and answer session. Patrons are encouraged to bring copies of their own Poblocki books to the signing.