Novel Idea

Michelle Schusterman ('03) (Photo by Ellen Wright)

Michelle Schusterman ('03) began writing her first book in bed. She was sick with pneumonia and had lost her job. She had nothing to do.

So she began writing. Her first book didn't get published, but she's since written 11 novels for middle school students. Her I Heart Band series (Grosset & Dunlap) and her most recent book, The Pros of Cons (Scholastic), draw from her background as a percussionist and steel drummer. I Heart Band follows the adventures of band geeks, while Pros depicts a snare drummer competing at a convention. The New York-based author's other books range from mysteries to fantasy, including the recently released Spell and Spindle.

While at UNT, Schusterman performed in six different music groups, boosting her confidence since she was such a shy person. She also took conducting classes that forced her to hold the attention of her peers -- lessons she uses today when she speaks at book festivals or conferences.

"Instead of being nerve-wracking, it's just plain fun," she says. "After all, it's a lot easier to talk to people about books than it is to get them to hold a concert B flat in tune!"