As a child, author James Ponti was not a reader. Instead, he discovered an interest in storytelling through film and realized his capacity for writing thanks to his teacher Mr. Prothro and a unit on (surprisingly for James) poetry. In this wide-ranging and deeply personal episode of The Reading Culture, James shares about his 25-year career writing for television (including for Nickelodeon and Disney … yes, he met Britney and Justin!) and how it impacted his books, like the “City Spies” and “Framed!” series.
I loved learning about how James scouted for documentaries and used that experience to inspire some of the backdrops for his most famous works. James’ unique perspective from his start in visual storytelling allowed him to become the immersive, illustrative author that he is today.
For his reading challenge, Mystery Author, James challenges us to pick five authors we have never read, and at least one or two that we’ve never heard of, and read one book by each of those authors. For those taking the challenge who read middle grade books, James recommends browsing the authors on “The Renegades of Middle Grade”' site, which he founded with many fellow (awesome) middle grade writers, including some former guests on our show!
This episode’s Beanstack featured librarian is Kathleen Durant, the librarian at Camden Middle School in Kershaw County, South Carolina. Some of her students even get cameos in the episode! Listen to the end to hear about Kathleen’s creative use for the Wheel of Names.
Listen to the full episode, “Screen Play: James Ponti on Writing With a Filmmaker’s Eye,” on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it.