Three Questions With Steve Sheinkin

In each installment of "Three Questions With" we ask a different author or illustrator questions about their work, their process, and interests. This month we're chatting with PJ Our Way author Steve Sheinkin, creator of the Rabbi Harvey graphic novels. He tells us about how he came to love history, the inspiration for Rabbi Harvey, plus his tips for aspiring writers.

How did you come up with the character Rabbi Harvey? Is he based on anyone you know?

Rabbi Harvey isn't based on any one person. But he's definitely part my father, part classic rabbi, with a bit of Abraham Lincoln thrown in. Sometimes you just start drawing, and you don't even know what your hand is about to do. That's how Harvey was born. He probably wishes I didn't draw him with the crazy unibrow, but it's too late now! One funny thing is that my Hebrew school really did have a rabbi named Harvey. He wasn't very wise, but I really liked the name.

You’ve written a lot of great historical non fiction books. What do you love about studying history?

It's true, I do love history - but as a kid I thought I hated it. I thought history was just about memorizing names and dates, which is boring. But now I know that history is about dramatic stories, set in different times and places. I get to find and explore and tell stores for a living, which was always my dream. My love of reading about the American West is part of what inspired Rabbi Harvey - he's part rabbi, part Wild West sheriff (but without the gun).

What’s the best piece of advice you can pass on to aspiring young writers?

To me, the best writing advice is to just do it, to just jump right in. My daughter is ten, and just this morning she showed me the first few chapters of a "novel" she says she's going to write. She has only a vague idea of what's going to happen in the story, but she's excited to find out. That's the key -don't worry if the first draft is good or neat or clear or anything. Just have fun. Get it all down. And finish--don't quit! Then you can go back and revise, and it will all start to come together.

Have you signed up for PJ Our Way? It's a special program for children ages 9-11. New PJ Our Way subscribers will receive a copy of The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey!