Craig Everett is a financial researcher, teacher and author. While he currently serves as an assistant professor of finance in the MBA program at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, I’m focusing on him here today as a writer and an advocate for youth financial literacy education. His middle grade novel, TOBY GOLD AND THE SECRET FORTUNE, was described by Kirkus Reviews as “Unique children’s lit that cleverly tackles interest rates, endowments, fluctuating commodities, bullying and identity.”
Here’s a brief synopsis of the book:
An infant is discovered one night on a commuter train from New York City during a stop in the sleepy town of Wallingford, Connecticut. The local police are summoned, but are unable to locate the boy’s parents, despite painstakingly questioning each person on the train.
Assigned the name “Toby Gold” by social services, the mysterious child grows up in Wallingford, moving from foster home to foster home not knowing who his real parents are – or why he was born with such freakish skills with math and money.
Now a teenager, Toby suddenly finds himself involved in a financial conspiracy that puts his life, and the lives of his two closest friends, in great peril. Ultimately, Toby solves the crime, saves his friends, and even saves his school using only his amazing money skills – and some chocolate pudding.
One lucky commenter on today’s post will win a copy of his book, as long as you also “like” his Toby Gold Facebook Page.
In the meantime, let’s find out more about this financial whiz and what led him to writing.
CRAIG: My career focus is entrepreneurial finance. This is what I teach in my MBA program. I come from a long line of small business owners. My grandfather owned the Everett Saw Company in Bangor, ME. They made bucksaws. Unfortunately, the invention of the chainsaw made bucksaws obsolete. Oh well. My dad always had his own businesses, which inspired my love and interest in small business ventures.
ME: Why middle grade? I would imagine that, having spent time with Fortune 500 companies and the like, you might have ventured into writing corporate or financial thrillers at the adult level. So what is it about this age group that draws you?
CRAIG: I LOVE middle-grade. Middle-grade is all about the story. It has to be interesting, funny and fast-paced in order to maintain the attention of the reader. I also like middle-grade because it’s okay to be clean and moral. This is largely missing from YA and adult fiction. (You have a point there.)
(NOTE: I asked Craig for pictures of him digging for treasure on the beach as a boy…and of him in middle grade, but he declined. I think he’s afraid his graduate students will find them and use them for blackmail.)
ME: So many authors I’ve come to know have a background in acting or theater, and it appears you’re no different (though you’re one of the few I’ve come across who has their own IMDb listing). Tell us about your acting background and how you came to be cast in “The Adventures of Food Boy,” as well as a little about the film’s story and your particular role. (I hope you’ve got a picture of you in costume.)
CRAIG: I have participated in community theatre since childhood, starting with “The Theatre of the Enchanted Forest” company in Maine. It’s just fun for me. It was through a community theatre friend in Virginia that I met the writer/producer of “Food Boy.” I sent them an audition video and got the part of Montagu.
(Okay, again no picture…and very few details about the movie. I’m going to have to check it out from Blockbuster.)
ME: How does your experience with acting and performing help when it comes to being a writer?
CRAIG: I think that my acting experience gives me a good sense of dialogue pacing. It also helps me to think in terms of scenes and transitions.
(True, and speaking of transitions . . . )
ME: Do you think kids today are more . . . or less . . . aware of the role that money plays in their lives, and why? And how can TOBY GOLD AND THE SECRET FORTUNE affect that awareness for young readers?
CRAIG: I think that kids are less aware. This is why I wrote the book. It’s much harder for kids (and teenagers) to get jobs these days, so they really don’t have a healthy concept of the relationship between work and consumption.
ME: I believe you have said that “Save Half” is your motto. Could you elaborate? And have you been successful in getting your own kids to save half of all they earn? In fact, please tell us how you’ve taught your own kids to deal with money. (If you don’t mind, I’d love to post a picture of your family.)
CRAIG: Well, it’s not MY motto. It’s Toby Gold’s. The idea is that I want to instill the idea that we should live well below our means. Saving half requires that we make tough choices about how big our house or apartment is, and how large we live in general. Do I expect all my readers to actually save half? Well, it would be nice, but not necessarily realistic. Some will, some won’t.
But here’s the thing. If your goal is to save 10%, but then some emergency comes up, you end up saving nothing (or worse). On the other hand, if you’ve organized your life to save half and something unexpected comes up, you may indeed fail to achieve your 50% savings goal, but you will still save a lot. Better to shoot for the stars and hit the moon, than to shoot for the moon and then get incinerated in the atmosphere if you miss.
ME: Tell us about your new publishing imprint, Fiscal Press, how it came to be, and what kinds of fiction and non-fiction, if any, would be considered a good fit.
CRAIG: Fiscal Press is an imprint of Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing in Oregon. I originally pitched the book to Wyatt-MacKenzie along with a bunch of other independent publishers (after my agent gave up on the major New York publishers). In general, they (the fancy-pants NY editors) all had great things to say about my book, but were not interested in taking the risk of publishing something so out-of-the-ordinary. I had interest from three independent publishers, but Wyatt-MacKenzie was willing to establish this new imprint, so I went with them.
ME: I understand this new imprint is going to be managed by your MBA students. How? Will it be a class you teach or is this something outside the classroom?
CRAIG: It’s entirely outside the classroom. It gives the students the chance to do some real publishing work.
(Sounds like fun!)
ME: I believe you do most of your fictional writing with your laptop at a café or restaurant. Since I always like to discuss a writer’s “space,” could you please tell us your favorite location and the reasons you prefer it. (Also, please provide a picture of your writing space there.)
CRAIG: Well, I wrote the first draft of TOBY GOLD on my laptop at the Purdue University student union in West Lafayette, Indiana. I would go there at lunch and write for an hour or 1,000 words, whichever came first. I liked it because it was a change of scenery from my office in the Krannert building.
ME: Finally, what are you working on now in terms of fiction, and what projects lie ahead?
CRAIG: I am working on book #2 in this series, called Toby Gold and the Order of the Invisible Hand. There are a total of six books planned in the series.
If you want to learn more about Craig, check out his website, and there’s more about his series here. In the meantime, you can enter the Rafflecopter drawing below for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Craig’s book–perfect for your kids!
And next week I’ll be interviewing writer and reviewer Jennie Hansen, who has a new novel out–Where the River Once Flowed.
Originally posted 2013-02-13 07:00:16.