Five in Five with Matt de la Pena

Hiya WRN’ers! Today is, like, the best day ever for me. Why? Because I got to interview Matt de la Pena, author of three of my favorite books of all time, Ball Don’t Lie, We Were Here, and I Will Save You. So I’m going to need to take some deep breaths before I start. Whew. Okay, I’m ready. So Matt…

Here at Whatcha Reading Now, we’re always dying to know…

  1. Whatcha Reading Now?

Nothing! I just finished reading about 270 books in three months* — I’m a judge for this year’s National Book Award. So I’m staying away from books for two weeks! Gotta rest my eyes, you know? At the end of my two-week hiatus I plan to read whatever you suggest. Deal? So, what should I read? Keep in mind, I’ve read the majority of the books that came out this year.

  1. Do you believe in ghosts? If so, have you ever seen one?

I grew up in an old, beat-up house near the border of Mexico and San Diego, and sometimes at night, I promise, I heard a ghost cruising around my room. I made him/her a deal. “Look,” I said, “you don’t mess with me, I won’t mess with you. All right?” The ghost didn’t answer, but he/she didn’t strange me either. (I wonder if it was a girl ghost, by the way. If so, I wonder if she was hot. How cool would it be to date a girl ghost!)

  1. What’s your biggest regret? If you don’t have one, how do you stay so regretless?

My biggest regret in the history of my life: not speaking Spanish. I’m half Mexican. I should be fluent. But sadly, I chose to speak only English as a kid. And I regret the heck out of that now.

  1. Name the top three things on your bucket list?

1. To make out with a ghost girl (question #2 seriously got me thinking!).

2. To live in Spain (man, what a cool country. I spent a few months there back when I was in grad school, and I vowed to live there for a year . . . it’d be crazy romantic to write a novel there and eat paella every night and be surrounded by Spanish. I HAVE to do this. How do I do this? Maybe I can apply for a grant.)

3. To have a kid (I think it’d be awesome to have a family. If I had a little girl I’d keep her away from dudes. Until she was thirty. This includes ghost dudes. If I had a baby boy I’d get him in a little headlock the day he was born. I think it would be amazing to have a family of my own.).

  1. Tell us one MORE random thing about yourself.

I’m INCREDIBY scared of spiders. I’m serious. Throw me in a cage with a lion. Match me up with a alligator or a python. But whenever I spot a spider, doesn’t matter how big or small, I take off running. Those things freak me out. I’m scared to even step on them because I believe their poisonous fangs with bust right through my sole! Look, I’m all sweating and stuff just thinking about it.

Thanks for that, Matt. You’re so awesome, and your answers totally prove it. For all of our readers, you can check out more of Matt’s stuff at

*I interviewed Matt in the fall of 2011 for the awards that were announced last month. He’s not reading for next year’s awards.

– by Jill MacKenzie

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