Conversations with Authors

Using Skype to Make Connections

About the Author

Paul Volponi is the author of 11 novels for young adults that are currently being read in high school and middle school English classes around the country. Paul visits these classes often, either in-person or via video conference, to discuss the novels and encourage students who wish to pursue their own writing.

Paul is a writer, journalist, and teacher living in New York City. From 1992 to 1998, he taught incarcerated teens on Rikers Island to read and write. That experience formed the basis of his ALA award-winning novels Black and White and Rikers High. From 1999 to 2005, Paul taught teens in drug treatment programs, inspiring his ALA award-winning novel Rooftop.

Skypin' with Volponi

Recently, we hosted a great Skype session with popular young adult fiction author Paul Volponi!   Final Four, one of Mr. Volponi’s novels, is also one of the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees for 2013-2014.  

First, I must say that I absolutely adore this down to earth, laid-back, super cool author!    When I first emailed Mr. Volponi a few months ago to schedule a Skype session at Mauldin High School, within minutes the phone in my office began to ring. 

“Mauldin Media Center….” 

“Heyyyyy Stacy!  It’s Paul!”


“Paul Volponi!”

Wow!  Talk about fast and personal service!

 Mr. Volponi stayed in contact with me until our scheduled day.  I was nervous about the web cam and microphone set up because our school (snow, snow, snow) had been closed for days  - right up until 1 day before the Skype session was scheduled.  

Paul was great about giving me time the day before in order to test our equipment and ensure the next day would be a success.  And it was!  Paul Volponi is one of a kind.  He extended an invitation for our students to mail to his home address one page of their writing for him to read and offer feedback. During the session, our students were able to ask Mr. Volponi questions about anything.

Mr. Volponi has a great sense of humor and definitely knows teens!  At first, our students seemed shy and nervous.  Before long, though, they felt as comfortable chatting with Paul Volponi as I had.  Mr. Volponi joked with our students and really knew how to get on their level so to speak. 

Mr. Volponi did talk about his books, but his main focus was on our group and the students themselves.  He encouraged our students to set goals for themselves and to dream big!

Skype author sessions are a great way for schools with limited budgets to host a virtual author visit.  This is definitely worth doing, and I know the students who were able to participate left our media center smiling, laughing, and talking about their experience with their friends and family.

Interested teachers and librarians can contact Paul at to arrange a visit with their students!

Limited funding?  Try the Author Skype Network!  Many others are free or charge an  inexpensive fee.  For a list of FREE Author Skype sessions, try blogger Kate Messner’s site!

Skype an author – give it a try!