Questions

The "Academy kids" portrayed in the movie.

Q: How can I order That Darn Donkey and That Dang Dog?
A: Click on the Contact link and send me an email message.

Q: Did Raul ever pay you back the $100.
A: Yes, he paid me back the day he graduated. He was 20 years old, but he hung in there.

Q: Did Emilio really die?
A: No, he didn't. He spent 4 years in the Marine Corps and now he's married, living in CA with his 2 kids.

Q: What happened to the other kids?
A: Callie went to community college and had another kid. Gusmaro works for a software developer. Durell and Lionel came back to school after their grandma made them quit and work for a semester (and she never called me a honky anything - she was very nice). I saw some of the students in April 2004 and here's what their jobs are: dental hygenist, real estate agent, school secretary, video game designer, mortgage loan officer, electronics engineer, produce manager for a grocery store, nursing assistant -- so I guess they showed the school system that had given up on them!!

Q: Are you still teaching?
A: You betcha! I'm a part-time adult ed instructor.

Q: Are you married?
A: Are you proposing?

Q: Is the movie true?
A: Sort of. The movie is based on my book, My Posse Don't Do Homework, but the Hollywood guys made up a lot of stuff because they thought it would be more exciting. You'll have to decide what you think.

Q: Did you just teach one class like in the movie?
A: No, the first year I taught as an intern for one class. The following year, I had three classes, two were students who didn't speak English. Then I started teaching, full-time (150 kids per year), the kids who were portrayed in the movie. I taught in that program for four years, then moved to New Mexico to attend grad school. I also taught high school and college there. Since then, I've taught off and on, between writing my books. Right now I'm working on a screenplay, a play, some short stories and another novel.

Q: How can I become a writer?
A: I think most writers are born. But you can decide to become a writer, if you can persist despite isolation, rejection and frustration. First, read a lot - everything, but especially the kind of things you want to write. Then write a lot and ask people to read it -- but don't listen to everything they say. Read Poets & Writers, The Writer and Writer's Digest magazines, literary journals, and if you are serious, get a copy of The Writer's Market that is published every year. Visit online websites and carefully browse them -- don't pay people to read your work. Read good things and read bad things. Read Proust and Elizabeth Hay and Tobias Wolf and Anita Shreve and Sherman Alexie and Nick Hornby and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Then, work really hard, believe in yourself, and don't give up. Eventually, if you write from the heart and you practice your craft, you will get published. Good luck!

Q: What happened to the movie BECOMING EDUARDO?
Sadly, I was not allowed to be involved in the production, so much of Eddie’s great story was lost along the way. That's my opinion (and authors are so opinionated!). The movie is visually beautiful because it was filmed in New Mexico. I co-wrote the script (the script is registered with my name as primary writer with The Writers Guild) but I withdrew my name from the project after the director told me I was "not allowed to speak to him" during the filming. This was not as a result of my behavior, but was an ego trip on the director's behalf. The moment the film was registered, he informed me that it was "his movie" and that I could not be involved in any way. I had agreed to write the script and granted one-time rights to my book for a grand total of $5 and the promise that I would be "intimately involved in every aspect of the production." My friend Garland had put up the money for the film and I didn't want him to lose his money, so I didn't tell the director to stick his camera as he so richly deserved. So....once again I learned a lesson the hard way. I GOT IT this time! Don't sell or give away the rights to your work unless you understand the movie maker's vision. It may be very different from yours. If you do sell the rights, charge a lot, cash your check and don't look back. It was definitely an educational experience. But I don't carry grudges. They weigh you down too much and waste energy that could be better used in a positive way. I just learn my lessons and move on with my life. I was foolish to agree to work on a project without having everything in writing. But when you are a decent, honest person, you expect other people to be honest and decent, too. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it doesn't. We have to move or on we get stuck in the past. The point of power is always in the present - somebody way smarter than me said that, but I can't remember who.