Monday, December 21, 2009


Here's a video called "Faith," loosely based on the first chapter of Godless. The video was made as a school project by Lucas Francy, a student at Purchase College. It's very well done, I think, and the casting choices are particularly interesting. Check it out on YouTube.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Contest Update, and a New Book

It’s cracking cold outside today—the sort of cold where the snow squeaks when you walk on it—but my How to Steal a Car Video Contest” is really heating up! Although I have no evidence to support this, I’m expecting the first entry to be posted on YouTube any day now. I’m sure there are dozens—possibly billions—of nascent filmmakers slaving over their short videos, trying to make them Academy Award worthy. In fact, I have heard from an impeccable source (my fervid imagination), that James Cameron’s grandchildren (if he has any) may be partnering with Pixar to develop a ninety-second tour de force involving CGI versions of Kelleigh and her friends.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. In my dreams. Hey, why don’t you make a video! It’s easy! It doesn’t even have to be good. You could win a bunch of signed books, or maybe fifty bucks! Check out the contest rules here.

In other news, I’ve just shipped my latest novel off to my publisher. The original title was “Shayne,” a nod to Jack Schaefer’s classic western novel, Shane. But because almost no one born after 1970 remembers that book, my wise editor suggested an alternate title: Blank Confession. Look for it next November.

I’m now deep into revising my next project—a novel in which nothing happens. Oddly enough, it is shaping up to be my longest YA novel yet. Writing about nothing takes a lot more words than writing about something. Just ask Marcel Proust. Or Thomas Disch, who called Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past the “dullest and best of all books.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bad Bag

As a former sign painter and graphic designer, hardly a day goes by when I don't see evidence of Very Bad Decisions. Here's a photo of the grocery bag currently being used at Cub Foods.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to Write a Book Review

Like most writers, I am constantly seeking affirmation, therefore I read reviews of my own work. It can be a perilous undertaking. Even “good” reviews can be maddening when the writer fails to “get” the book. Or rather, when my book has failed to have the desired impact.

Responses to How to Steal a Car have been particularly interesting. Yesterday I came across a review—more of a commentary and analysis, really—that I thought was quite remarkable. The reviewer was a woman who blogs under the name “Daughter Number Three.” I don’t know who she is, but it’s possible I have met her under her “real” name, as she lives in the Twin Cities area, and seems to be deeply involved in the kidlit business.

What makes her review remarkable is…well, you should read it. Also, check out her thoughts on other authors and book artists. Blogs like hers give me renewed faith in the paperless future of book criticism.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Raking Through Books

If you have not been to Kieran's Irish Pub (in Minneapolis) for one of their Raking Through Books literary events, your literary coolness coefficient is deficient. Check it out this Tuesday, November 10, at 5:30 p.m., when I will be appearing with John Nielson who, I am told, produces garphic (I'm letting that typo stand) novels about toe jam and other earthy delights. It will be fun.
For more info, go here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Last Sunday I flew to Ohio to do a couple of presentations at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. The library worked with several schools to bus in some 300 students, so the turnout was quite impressive. I'm humbled by how hard these librarians and teachers work to get students reading. Back to Minnesota the next day for an evening presentation at the Shakopee, Library. The audience was half teen and half adult. The adults all sat to my left, while the teens all sat on the right. That made an impression on me; I don't know why. The next day I flew back to Ohio to give a talk at OELMA, the statewide convention for school librarians. I talked about why books should be regarded as hazardous devices. YA author Lauren Myracle was there, and she called me on some of my more outrageous assertions. I also met authors Ingrid Law, Shelly Pearsall, and a whole bunch of library folks. It was a great conference--big enough to offer a wide variety of personalities and events, but small enough to allow time for lots of one-on-one conversations. I returned to Minnesota the next day for a presentation at the Heritage Library in Lakeville, MN, where I met two remarkable young women wearing matching handmade "How to Steal a Car" T-shirts. That's Bridgette on the left, and Brittany on the right. Don't worry, I am not undressing them, I'm just signing their shirts! A full week--I even managed to get some writing done! Don't forget--the How to Steal a Car Video Contest is still going on. Only four months to go!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pete's Video Contest!!!!!

Here’s how you can become a YouTube sensation, earn extra credit at school, get experience making videos, and maybe even win a fabulous prize!

Make a short video based on Pete Hautman’s novel How to Steal a Car.

Contest is open to individuals or groups, the crazy and the sane. It could be a class project with a cast of hundreds, or just one person looking into a cell phone camera while talking about the book.

Here are some ideas:

Act out a scene from the book.

Offer a commentary about the book.

Do a spoof, like on Saturday Night Live

A photo montage with voiceover

An interview with a character from the book

A puppet show or animation

…it’s up to you!

First Prize: Full set (all ten) of Pete Hautman’s YA books, signed and with illustrations (okay, doodles) by the author

Second Prize: $50.00 gift card to your favorite bookstore

Contest Rules

- Video must be at least 60 seconds long, but not more than ten minutes.

- It must be posted on YouTube on or before March 15, 2010.

- It must be about the novel How to Steal a Car (not just a video about car theft).

- It must not contain anything that will get you or me in trouble (no porn, no slander, no bomb-making instructions, etc.)

- The title (How to Steal a Car) and author (Pete Hautman) of the book must be mentioned, and an image of the book cover must appear at some point in the video. This can be at the beginning, the end, or anywhere else in the video (for example, you could show a character reading the book).

When your video has been posted let Pete know via a comment on this blog, or by email:

Links to all qualifying entries will be posted on Pete’s blog. Winner(s) will be announced on April 1, 2010.

First Prize will go to the video that Pete likes best.

Second Prize will go to the video that gets the most YouTube views by March 31, 2010. (Posting your video early and getting your friends to watch it will give you a huge advantage!)

Note: It is possible that one video could be awarded both prizes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Red Balloon Bookshop

Fun event last night at The Red Balloon Bookshop. Here's the fabulous CAKE they made for the event! I just ate some of the leftovers for lunch.
I signed a lot of books for those in attendance. If you missed the event, I left plenty of signed books behind, so stop by this St. Paul landmark (25 years and counting!) and pick up a copy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MPR Interview

Last week I spent a pleasant half hour talking with Minnesota Public Radio's Euan Kerr.
Among other topics, we discussed where I got the idea to write How to Steal a Car, the differences between the reasons adults and teens read, and my (very) brief history as a car thief. We also talked about the movie adaptation of Godless, and writing from the perspective of a teenage girl.
You can listen to the interview on the MPR website here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Trailers and Video Contest

A lot of authors are now doing “book trailers,” or teaser videos designed to sell books.

Some authors offer top quality, professionally produced videos—the video supporting Scott Westerfeld’s new novel Leviathan is a good example. Others, like me, just sit in front of their webcam and babble desperately. But there is a third type of “book trailer” that I particularly enjoy: The unsolicited third-party YouTube video.

These quirky videos are made by readers who like a book enough so that they are inspired to create short films. Check ‘em out:

Here’s a video about my novel Godless. And another.

Sweetblood has also been trailerized here and here. This one is particularly nice.

Here is an interesting video about Invisible.

My favorite so far? A video from the Netherlands based on No Limit. I like the music (Lady GaGa).

If you've made a video based on one of my books, please let me know, and I'll post a link here on my blog!

Now, I mentioned a contest. I'm going to be offering a fabulous prize to whoever posts the best YouTube book trailer video for my most recent novel, How to Steal a Car. I'm still trying to figure out what that fabulous prize will be, and the rules of the contest, and the time frame, and how to let lots of young filmmakers know about it, and so forth. So keep an eye on this blog for more info, and start thinking about the sort of book trailer YOU would like to see for How to Steal a Car!

Friday, August 14, 2009

How to Steal a Car Video

Here's a video of some guy who looks a lot like me reading from How to Steal a Car.
What was I thinking? And why is the right side of the screen cut off? If anyone knows, please tell me. In the meantime, you can go to YouTube and watch it in all its full screen glory.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I've just received the first pre-publication review of How to Steal a Car, this one from Kirkus:

"Hautman channels the cynically smart voice of a teenage sometime car thief in this sly cross between Blake Nelson’s The New Rules of High School (2003) and Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (2007). Fifteen-year-old Kelleigh is bored. Her staid parents politely leave her alone, her two best friends talk about the same old things and she’s stuck with Moby-Dick for her summer-reading selection. So she begins stealing cars, quickly escalating from joy riding in her elderly neighbors’ Caddy to plotting the theft of a stranger’s Mercedes. Teens will identify with Kelleigh’s challenges to boundaries and attempts to see how many rules she can break before anyone in authority can be bothered to notice. Kelleigh soon decides that while “I stole a couple cars…It’s not who I am.” However, the illegal thrill causes her to realize she has outgrown her suburban–Twin Cities world, and an unrepentant ending behind stolen wheels suggests she is destined to leave it behind. A sharply observed, subversive coming-of-age tale."

Nice, huh? I love "unrepentant" and "subversive." That's what I want for the paperback jacket blurb.

Several appearances are scheduled for the coming months. Check out my website for details.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Why blog when I could be in the woods enjoying the spring bounty? Check out these ramps.
And these morels.
And this tree, nearly four feet in diameter. The beavers got ambitious! Seriously, that was beavers that did that.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

J.G. Ballard, one of my early and most profound influences, has died in London at the age of 78. I read most of his books. His first novel, and still one of my favorites, is The Drowned World.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Instruction Manual

I finally got the cover art for How to Steal a Car. I like it! Little toy cars. The publication date is set for September, so be sure to get your LoJack installed before then.

Friday, March 6, 2009


As he enters his late middle age, our toy poodle Jacques fancies himself a mighty hunter.
This past winter, Jacques spent many hours in the backyard plowing through eight-inch snow with his four-inch legs, listening to things we could not hear, pouncing on things we could not see, coming up with nothing but a face full of
snow. But a few weeks ago one his pounces netted him a small, dark gray creature with a short tail. Crunch.
At first I thought it was a short-tailed shrew, but upon closer examination it turned out to be a vole, which looks like a field mouse, but slightly larger, with shorter snout and a furry tail.
Jacques has since refined his stalk/listen/pounce routine, and he has caught at least one more that I know of which probably means he has caught
several I never saw. Apparently, we have a lot of voles here. That's fine with me, as long as they stay outside.
We are having a nice, gentle thaw here, with each day stripping away another layer of snow. I went out this morning and noticed the the melt had revealed the vole highways all over our property. The patterns are quite beautiful, don't you think? It looks to me like a language. The language of the voles.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I am looking at...

...a very nice blue-and-white handmade bowl I received from Granville Middle School, along with what I believe to be an OSU card protector. 
I mean, if it's not a card protector I don't know what it is. Those are just two mementos of my recent trip to Granville, Ohio, home of my new BFF Dana Gilligan, who can make a foam hot dog costume look very stylish.  I am not kidding.
The students at GMS were great--they had a lot of questions, most of which I did my best to answer. Unfortunately, the most common questions had to do with the ending of Invisible, and I couldn't answer them because about half the students had not yet read the book! As you can see from the second picture, the students and faculty put in a lot of work in anticipation of my visit. Jana Von Dach, a professional poker player masquerading as school librarian, brought in her own poker paraphernalia to make me feel comfortable on stage. It felt just like home, Jana. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Godless Brouhaha

"After numerous parent complaints, administrators at Oxford High School are asking teachers to consider removing the book Godless by Pete Hautman from their summer reading lists."
That's a quote from a February 3 article in the Oxford Eagle, an Oxford, Mississippi newspaper. Here's a link to the article
This is the first time, to my knowledge, that Godless has been challenged in a public (or any other) school.  I wrote a respectful and polite letter to the principal of the school early last week, but I have received no response from him.
What I find sad and disturbing about this sort of thing is the message it sends to teachers, parents, and students.  When a school administration kowtows to small group of parents (I'm guessing it is only two or three), they are telling the teachers that they do not trust their judgement, and that a few strident voices can control what books are appropriate to assign to their students.  The parents of all the other students, who rely upon the school administration to moderate those fringe voices, get the message that a few extremists are calling the shots in their child's education.  The students get the same message, with the added embarrassment of being "protected" from a book that hundreds of thousands of middle school students have read.
The other thing that bothers me is this: I strongly suspect that the parents who objected to Godless have not read the book.  Because if they had read it, I do not think they would find it objectionable.  We see this over and over again in cases of book banning.  One activist finds reason to object to a book and they inflame a bunch of other parents who read, at most, a few selected, out-of-context passages.  
Oxford High School, I should mention is a large, progressive public school with no history of book banning that I can find.  I hope that this problem with Godless is an isolated incident, and that it does not spread to other books in the school district.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This is one of those posts where I have nothing to say...

...but feel the need to say something because it has been one month since my last post. This may indicate that my life has been largely uneventful otherwise unworthy of celebration, or it may mean that I have been deliriously happy, or occupied with projects so fascinating that I’ve been unable to tear myself away. All of the above are somewhat true. I’m getting a lot of writing done. No funerals or weddings or births in the past month. No salmonella or septicemia or bubonic plague. The dogs have been obsessed with moving from one sunny spot to another. No travel. No flat tires or furnace failures during our subzero January. No emergency room visits. No meteorites crashing through the house. I’m midway through a Lost marathon, watching seasons two through four on (four or five episodes a day) and enjoying it tremendously. Life is good. I even got a laugh out of the latest one star review of my novel Sweetblood on Here is the review in its entirety:
Now that is an effective review.  You know exactly where the reviewer is coming from and what she thinks about the book, all in 25 words.  If only I could express myself so succinctly.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Things I promise not to say in 2009

It was clever once, but that was many, many years in the past. I confess to having used this term. Recently. In print. Possibly more than once. Now, it is lazy, cliché, and ineffective. I am giving myself a dope slap…right…now! Ouch. It hurts so good. Laugh-out-loud funny See comments under “jaw-dropping,” above. Yeah-yeah-yeah (or, yah-yah-yah) You’ve heard this one, and probably used it yourself. It can mean “I agree with you,” or “Now I remember!” or “I know, I know!” It bugs the s%@! out of me, especially when I hear it sputtering from my own lips. Nevermore, I swear.  Got Okay, “got” is an extraordinarily useful and omnipresent word. It’s not going away anytime soon, and I will doubtless use it myself both in conversation and in writing. But I will use it less often. Tween A young woman of, perhaps, eleven years once called me to account for using this word to describe the readers for whom Mary Logue and I intended the Bloodwater Mysteries series. She perceived it as derogatory; I cannot blame her. Anyway, she scared me off using the word ever again in any context whatsoever. I am now without a word to describe persons aged eleven and twelve, or thereabouts, who have realized their full intelligence, but lack the knowledge that comes with adulthood, and the insanity that comes with teenagerness.* Then See comments under “got,” above. *Yet another word I promise not to use—ever again.