November 16, 2013

Author Interview: Walter Dean Myers and a Chance to Help Give to The Fallen Heros Fund

I'm unbelievably excited today! 
I had the amazing chance to ask one of  my most favorite authors, Walter Dean Myers a few question about his book Fallen Angels.  

Before I get into the interview you need to understand how much I love that book.  When I first started teaching 18 years ago I read Fallen Angels and was blown away.  It was the first YA book I read that was raw and realistic.  It showed me how powerful books for teens can be.  It has, since then, continued to hold a special place in my heart.  So when I was contacted by Goodman Media to share a wonderful opportunity to both share about the launch of Fallen Angels in ebook form and help veterans I jumped at the chance.  But then they offered to let me ask Mr. Myers some questions.  I just about fell over! I could not be more excited to share this all with you.

First if you don't know about Fallen Angels:

FALLEN ANGELS tells the story of seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, a Harlem teenager who volunteers for the service when his dream of attending college falls through. Perry and his platoon - Peewee, Lobel, Johnson, and Brunner - come face-to-face with the Vietcong, the harsh realities of war, and some dark truths about themselves. The book has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Coretta Scott King Award, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, and a School Library Journal Best Book.

Now I would like to welcome Walter Dean Myers to The OWL

First I’d like to ask about Fallen Angels.  It was written at time when books this realistic were not widely written for teens.  What lead you to write the story and what did you hope teens would gain from reading it? 
The initial story was prompted by my own experiences.  I joined the Army at 17, full of spirit and patriotism, and little knowledge about war. My younger brother joined after I did and was killed on his first day in Vietnam.  A sobering experience.  I realized, of course, that I had influenced his entry into the military.  I wanted, needed, to remove the romanticism that had influenced me to join and this became my impetus for writing the book.  I wanted teens to understand the brutality of war when they were thinking of joining the Armed forces and also later, when they were in positions to influence our nation’s entry into wars.

Some people shy away from sharing Fallen Angels with students because of its content and the language in it.  What is your response to that issue? 

The bottom line of personal involvement is that you are asked to kill people you do not know, who have not personally offended you, and who might not be a danger to you if you did not engage them on the battlefield. To accomplish this soldiers are taught to dehumanize the enemy. Young men and women, fresh out of high school, need to be changed into young killers.  They are encouraged to use language and symbols that turns Asians into Gooks, Charlies, and the like. Unfortunately this language often slips over into the relations between soldiers.  I should have explained this better in the book.

You now have a sequel, Sunrise over Fallujah, and a prequel, Invasion, to Fallen Angels.  The stories take place many years apart.  Why did you decide to create the series in that way? 

What constantly shocks me is the seemingly never ending idea that violence can possibly answer man’s problems. Today, nations continue to build atomic arsenals at a time when the entire world is convinced that these weapons can end all life on this planet.  The poorest nations spend their resources on arms and soldiers instead of feeding their people. Can’t we ever learn that wars don’t work?  Perhaps not. But we have to teach that wars are not the answer.   It’s our only hope.  I keep revisiting the different conflicts in an effort to understand the thinking that caused them.

Your stories withstand the test of time.  Fallen Angels was first published in 1988, yet students still relate to the characters now?  Why do you think that is?

We are fascinated by the extremes of human emotion.  Love, fear, hatred, serve as beacons to help us explore the feelings that drive us from day to day. When those extremes are combined, when the fear of combat is melded with the friendship of the young soldiers, we recognize the  complex stages of our own lives.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!
Thank you for your continued interest.  

I feel now like I understand the book and it's sequel/prequel much more!

Ok if you've never read Fallen Angels, or you want to reread it - November is the time to pick up the ebook.  Here is why:


Proceeds from E-Launch to Benefit Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original publication of FALLEN ANGELS, the multi-million-copy bestselling novel by current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Walter Dean Myers, Zola Books is releasing it as an e-book for the very first time.  FALLEN ANGELS, lauded as one of the best of the post-Vietnam novels, has continued to sell in paperback year after year, and today, Zola is excited to bring the powerfully moving story of a young man’s first experience of war to an even wider audience. 

Released on November 7, 2013, the FALLEN ANGELS e-book will include a bonus interview with Walter Dean Myers. The discussion covers Myers’s perspective on how war has changed over the years, the most poignant reader reactions to FALLEN ANGELS, his advice for readers coming to it for the first time, and more.

To commemorate the e-release, days before Veterans’ Day, Zola Books will launch a limited time promotion to raise funds for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an independent not-for-profit organization that has provided close to $150 million in support for the families of military personnel lost in service to our nation, and for severely wounded veterans. Both Walter Dean Myers and Zola Books have agreed to donate 100% of their proceeds from all sales from November 7 through November 30.  The FALLEN ANGELS e-book will be available for $6.99.

You can find the book HERE.
And it can be read on Nooks, Kindles and tablets.

“I have been a fan of Walter Dean Myers – the writer and the man – for many years, and it is an honor to publish one of his most significant books,” said Joe Regal, CEO and co-founder of Zola Books. “There is no better way to honor Walter’s body of work, particularly FALLEN ANGELS, than by making a donation to the IFHF, an organization that offers tremendous support to the men and women who have sacrificed for our country.”

About Walter Dean Myers:
Walter Dean Myers is the New York Times bestselling author of Monster, the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award, the 2012-2013 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and inaugural NYC Literary Honoree. Myers has received almost every single major award in the field of children’s literature. He is the author of two Newbery Honor books and five Coretta Scott King Awardees. He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, a three-time National Book Award Finalist, as well as the first-ever recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was the 2010 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and is considered one of the preeminent writers for young people. Walter lives in Jersey City, NJ with his family. You can visit him online

About Zola Books:
Zola Books' mission is to create an online paradise for book lovers. Zola takes everything readers do in the real world – browse bookstores, read book reviews, visit blogs, follow authors, share reviews and recommendations, and buy all kinds of books – and puts it all in one place. Zola also shares profits with booksellers who recommend books online and off. In addition, Zola offers exclusive e-books from major writers - including The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The New Hunger by Isaac Marion, and The Accidental Victim by James Reston Jr. Visit us at and follow us at @zolabooks.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating interview. Thanks for this. I am also a big fan of Walter Dean Myers, but have not yet read Fallen Angels. Thanks for telling me about it.