1. You have a very interesting background in the literary arts, tell me a little about yourself.
I wrote a lot of dramatic bad poetry as a kid, and drew incessantly. I did some cartooning for local newspapers, and was convinced that's what I'd be doing for life. In high school I wrote a lot of short stories and more bad poetry, and illustrated my first books, a series of science texts. Then I studied studio art and literature in college... painting, sculpture, children's literature. I worked closely with poet and children's author Lucille Clifton for a couple of years, which was inspiring. That broadened my horizons beyond cartooning (though I still love that). I've had my share of 9-5 day jobs while raising my kids, but now I'm lucky enough to work freelance as a copy writer, project manager, and illustrator, while also picking up some film work as a production designer (I just finished a film called Zombie Clowns Conquer the World). You can keep track of pretty much everything at my website, ChipStreet.com.
2. Rocket Summer is originally a screenplay. Now, is it your first novel?
It's the first one I finished... Like I say, I identified as a literary writer early in life, and wrote lots of short stories and poetry when I was young that never saw publication, as well as a couple of novels that I never finished (which is probably good, in retrospect... they were pretty terrible, though my short stories were pretty good). Screenwriting came very late to me. The screenplay for Rocket Summer was under option to a producer for quite some time around 2005-6, but it succumbed to the economy and the rights reverted back to me. The script lay in my proverbial drawer and I didn't really do anything with it for a while. Finally in 2011 I started writing the novelization, thinking perhaps I could generate interest in the screenplay again by publishing the story as a book. I was about a third of the way through in early 2012 when eKidsFilms approached me and purchased the screenplay. I retained the literary rights to the story, and with the film going into development, it seemed all the more prudent to finish the book to help develop an audience ahead of the film.
3. Tell me a little about Rocket Summer. Were any of the characters or scenes from your childhood?
The general sensibility of Rocket Summer is a lot like my childhood in the 1960's... growing up in a pretty rural part of Northern California, the nearest house where my best friend lived was a quarter mile or more away. I had a great, smart little dog like Lacey does, and she's probably modeled after a lot of the little girls I had crushes on. We certainly had plenty of semi-dangerous adventures off exploring in the hills during the summers, building forts and climbing around ravines. But no rocket cars. The most important personal aspect for me though is Lacey's parents, her dad Ernie, and her deceased mom Beverly. Those are my parents' names, and they're very much modeled after them. Dad was a mechanic, mom was a school teacher. I had the same rough relationship with my dad as Lacey has with hers, and unfortunately I didn't begin to resolve it till far too late in life. Writing Lacey's story, and her journey toward understanding her dad while she's still young, was definitely cathartic. And I hope I captured some of their wisdom in a way my own kids can appreciate, since they didn't know my folks as well as I'd have hoped they could.
4. You're getting ready to take Rocket Summer to the next level, a movie, has production started and what made you want to do it as a movie?
The producers are in development with it. The budget is completed, we've got an FX group on board, a couple of directors interested, and Julie Brown (Earth Girls are Easy, Camp Rock) is very committed to the project if our schedules coincide (she'll make a fantastic Mercy). It was originally intended to be a film, and so even though the novel is well received, it'll really have come full circle when the movie is complete.
5. What's next for Chip Street? Are you currently working on any more novels?
I struggle to focus sometimes... I just optioned another screenplay (a horror creature feature with my writing partner Sean Meehan), and I've got a couple of new screenplays I'd like to tackle. I'd like to direct a micro-budget feature of my own this year too. But there is a series of books I want to write too. It'll be a trilogy, more epic than Rocket Summer, with big movie appeal. Think along the lines of Percy Jackson. I've started researching and outlining it. I'd love to have the first one done in 2013 ... which means I better get to work!