Jeff Schilling was born in San Diego, California, but grew up in Falls Church, Virginia. He remembers lying in bed, listening to his father read The Hobbit to him and can still recall how it felt to hear that story for the first time. And although he’s always wished he was someone who knew exactly what he wanted to do from a very early age, he wasn’t. But he did love music, reading, and football. He was quiet and unremarkable during his middle and high school years. After graduation, he attended Virginia Tech and chose English as his major because he still liked to read and nothing else seemed terribly appealing. While attending Virginia Tech, he managed to take one Creative Writing course, but was secretly put out when his professor didn’t feel his work was astonishing.
After college, he worked as a waiter, dialysis clerk, purchasing assistant, case manager, and in a number of cubes before deciding he’d better find something he liked. During this time, he lived in Richmond, Virginia, Denver, Colorado and Freeport, Maine. He still loved books and music, but decided to write since he didn’t play an instrument, is terrified of doing anything in front of an audience, and isn’t good at staying up late. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to quit his day job to pursue this endeavor, because no one was willing (or able) to support him. He did, however, manage to break free of the cubicle and has worked with children for the past ten years, writing when he can.
Mr. Schilling claims if he’d known it would take this much work and so many years to achieve his goal, he might have given up long ago. After many manuscripts, two halfway decent, self-published books, and hundreds of rejection letters, he was fortunate enough to come to the attention of Bruce Bortz, publisher of Bancroft Press. Without the infinite patience of Mr. Bortz and his tremendously gifted editor (Harrison Demchick, The Listeners), Changing Michael would not exist. (The patience and perseverance the author cultivated during the edit and rewrite process, the author believes, is probably good for him, he adds.).
He is currently living in Colorado with his wife, daughter, house rabbit, and two guinea pigs. He hopes to write a few more books . . . if anyone’s interested. He also hopes that his vague and unremarkable biography might inspire other closeted artists. If it could happen to him, it could happen to anybody. Really.
Praise for Jeff Schilling’s Changing Michael
“Schilling weaves recognizable themes into a seamless whole that packs a powerful punch. Bullying, family, friendship, and, most importantly, the exploration of the self—adolescent readers will find plenty to relate to here, even as they will be challenged by the more troubling aspects of Matthew’s personality. It’s been a while since I’ve seen young adult fiction done quite this well.”
?Stuart Krause, 5th Grade Teacher, Aurora, CO
“In author Jeff Schilling’s debut novel Changing Michael, the narrator is Matthew, a charming but manipulative teenager whose dabbling in the lives of others will allow youthful readers to glimpse the limitations of his perspective. Broaching many subjects?family, friendship, bullying, and self-exploration?Changing Michael will do what all great stories do: challenge the way we think about ourselves and our relationships.”
?Christine Avery, English Teacher, Eaglecrest High School, Cherry Creek, CO
“Changing Michael is not your typical coming-of-age story. Instead, it is a journey into the life of Matthew, the narrator?a cynical, narcissistic know-it-all who thinks he has it all figured out. But Matthew, thanks to his would-be protégé Michael, soon finds out that all is not always as it seems. An excellent story that explores the world as it is and not as we always want it to be. Prepare to be hooked.”
?John Wiles, Cumming, Georgia
“I truly enjoyed Jeff Schilling’s new book Changing Michael. The story is fresh and highly relevant to our kids’ lives today. It provides a very interesting perspective that may inspire kids to be happy with who they are. I highly recommend it!
?Kate From Aurora, Colorado
“I really enjoyed Changing Michael! I thought it was a wonderful story from the perspective of plot and character, and Schilling’s strong narrative voice comes through loudly and clearly.”
?Eric Kinneman, School Counselor, Falls Church, Virginia
“The snarky writing style will have you laughing out loud, all while you’re increasingly captivated by Michael’s journey of self-discovery.”
?Marla Banks Cluff, Mother of 7, Rexburg, Idaho
“Schilling provides us with a refreshingly realistic insight into some of the issues that young adults face today. His provocative narrator, Matthew, offers readers sarcastic cynicism and humor that will engage many readers. Changing Michael is an entertaining and profound story that pushes the reader to really think about how we operate within our social norms.”
?Rebecca Lane, Teacher, Denver, CO
“Jeff Schilling’s Changing Michael is a compelling story that reveals the inner workings, including the sociopathic tendencies, of teenagers. His characters and character development entertain you and will leave you wanting more.”
?Autumn Longmore, Teacher, Eastridge Elementary, Aurora, CO
“It’s rare that a book can grab you from the very first page, but this one does. Matthew may be the most cynical of narrators, but Changing Michael breaks cynicism down into its most basic elements and emerges convincingly, if somewhat surprisingly, earnest. There’s a lot of charm here, a fair amount of wit, and, it turns out, the heart to back them both up. Schilling creates a touching, frustrating, real story that keeps you reading page after page.”
?Drew Schneider, Centennial, CO
“Changing Michael conjures up all sorts of creative ways that one overzealous teen attempts to boost the image and ego of his new down-and-out buddy. The dialogue is what one might encounter in teen conversations, and the nicknames narrator Matthew fabricates for some of his fellow characters are hilarious. Congratulations, Jeff Schilling, on an entertaining teen novel that even adults can enjoy.”
?Gary Longwell, YA Librarian, Smoky Hill Library, Centennial, CO