Tom Brenner

My life as a writer might have started at age thirteen, reading historical novels. I remember thinking how neat that would be to tell stories of the past, to be there in my imagination. The first story I remember writing was about a contemporary kid taking a bath. He pulled the plug and went down the drain. I can’t remember if that was the beginning or the ending.

After college, I wore black turtleneck sweaters and asked what the meaning of a flower was and thought that would make me a writer. I owned a typewriter. In those days the closest I got was a job as an advertising copywriter. I was writing and being paid for it. After ten years of that, I became an elementary-school teacher, thinking I had the summers to write. But it turned out that with three children, trips, backyard chickens, dogs, a house, and a garden, the summers just flew by.

After I retired from teaching, I finally began to write. And I submitted what I wrote. And I got rejection after rejection. So I went back to school, to a course at the University of Washington — Writing for Children. And after all those years of assigning homework to fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, it seems only fitting that my book about Halloween came out of a homework assignment.

No doubt growing up in Ohio, where autumn bursts with color and bright leaves drifted to the ground, and going to college at the University of North Carolina, where the fall colors were intense and lasted a long time, laid a foundation for the idea of my book. But more powerful were the memories of the excitement my own kids and my students had weeks before Halloween, talking about costume ideas, and then going out on that one very special night to rule the streets, looking for candy—and the word spreading faster than light of where the full-size candy bars were.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:

1. I was a Sugar Plum Fairy in a water ballet, a production of the UNC swim team.
2. I lasted one day as a door-to-door salesman at a time when I really needed a job.
3. From age six on, my cousin Bill and I were going to own a Montana horse ranch until years later I realized I was a little scared of horses—they are beautiful, but so big!