Publishers’ Preview: Middle-Grade Novels: Five Questions for Dan Gemeinhart

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine
This interview originally appeared in the January/February 2019 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Middle-Grade Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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In The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, Coyote’s peripatetic life with her dad on a repurposed school bus definitely has its pleasures, but Coyote (née Ella) knows they are also running away. Can they stop?

Photo: Kathryn Denelle Stevens.

1. How far would you go for a pork chop sandwich?

Ha! Coyote is indeed using a pork chop sandwich as the excuse for her journey, but I personally would be much more willing to go the distance for a lobster roll, a pulled-pork sandwich, or a street taco. I would (and have!) gone miles out of my way to get my hands on any of those. And there’s no limit to how far I’d go for my family, which is really what Coyote is fighting for.

2. Do you have a favorite road-trip novel?

Although they may not be road-trip novels in the strict sense, some of my favorite journey tales include A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, and Train I Ride by Paul Mosier.

3. Do you pick up hitchhikers?

You know, I never have. I’ve been tempted, but my mom’s grim warnings when I was a kid echo in my mind and keep my foot off the brake pedal. I guess the hitchhiking in my book is an example of authors writing in fiction what they’re afraid to do in real life.

4. What do your children call you?

Just like Rodeo, the dad in this book, I’ve got three daughters, and they call me “Daddy” (to my face, at least). And I’ll tell you, when I’ve been on the road for a while doing school visits, that’s the sweetest word in the world to hear!

5. If you had to get out of town, where would you go?

I love traveling, so I’ve got a long list of places I’d love to go back to, and an even longer list of places I’d like to see for the first time. But for me, a trip isn’t just about the destination — it’s also about the fun in getting there. I love road life: waking up each day in a new spot, looking at a map and picking a route for the day, living out of truck stops and drive-thrus. So if I had to get out of town, I’d do what Coyote and her dad are doing before this story begins: grab a cold pop and a bag of sunflower seeds, slide on my sunglasses, and just start driving. Onward to adventure, and whatever the road ahead brings!

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