Three Questions With: Ari Goelman

In each installment of "Three Questions With," we get to know a different writer, musician, or illustrator by asking three questions about their work, process, and interests. Today we're chatting with Ari Goelman, author of PJ Our Way selection, The Path of Names.

Dahlia, the protagonist of The Path of Names, loves doing magic tricks – was this a hobby of yours growing up?

Yes!  My brother and sisters and I used to regularly put on magic shows for our parents and anyone else we could rope in.  Also, when I was a camper (at the same summer camp upon which Camp Arava in The Path of Names is based) one summer I joined the magic club, and learned a few tricks that I still remember.  That said, full disclosure, I was never nearly as good as Dahlia.  Sleight of hand is hard, and I’m pretty sure I never really mastered it.  She’s also quite a bit better at math and much braver, than I remember being. 

Did you like reading stories with ghosts or supernatural elements as a kid? If so, what was your favorite?

Yes, I was a committed fantasy reader when I was growing up.  In fact, I still am.  I had a lot of favorite books, but when I was writing The Path of Names, a few books kept popping up in my eyes.  One in particular was Richard Peck’s The Ghost Belonged to Me – it took me a few minutes just now to track down the title, but I remember loving that series, and wanting to create something with its mingled atmosphere of mystery, ghosts and the day to day life of being thirteen.  



Lots of summer camps have their own mythologies or ghost stories – do you remember any tall tales or spooky stories from your own time at camp?

For sure.  My summer camp had the story of Crebsy.  In The Path of Names I actually have the counsellors in training tell a version of the Crebsy story, albeit under the name Ned McMasters. The idea was that the man who used to live where the camp was now located had lost his wife and kids in a fire.  Now years later (the counselors in training would tell us) he still lived in the woods and would periodically steal children from the camp. 

Ari’s second novel (and first YA novel), The Innocence Treatment, is coming out from Roaring Brook Press (MacMillan) this October. The Innocence Treatment is a YA suspense thriller set in the near future.  For more information visit his website at In addition to his novels, Ari has published more than a dozen short stories for adults.  He is a past winner of the Writers of the Future competition, and a graduate of the Clarion West writers workshop.  Ari earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005.  He has worked as a teacher, a writer, a researcher, an urban planner, a camp counselor, a stay-at-home father, and a host of other jobs. These days, in addition to writing fiction, he teaches research methods at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and hangs out with his three children.  

PJ Our Way lets tweens pick their own free Jewish chapter books and graphic novels each month. Sign your 9-11 year old up at


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