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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Local young adult author Chris Crutcher plans to ‘visit’ online classes

Award-winning author Chris Crutcher speaks at Northwest Passages Book Club on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in The Spokesman-Review event room. Crutcher earned his education at Eastern Washington University and has written 15 books. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Local young adult author Chris Crutcher reached out to teachers on Facebook on Wednesday morning offering to “visit” their newly online classes.

“I got quite a lot of responses,” Crutcher said. In these virtual visits, Crutcher will discuss inspiration and his writing process while answering other questions from students.

Based in Spokane since 1981, Crutcher tours the country regularly visiting universities and high schools in person and over Skype to discuss his work and offer advice to aspiring writers.

In the wake of coronavirus concerns, however, Crutcher has had to cancel several university appearances.

“I had a note from my doctor saying, ‘I know you think you have the immune system of Superman, but you’re 73 years old,’ ” Crutcher said. “I’m really conscious of staying away from people now.”

Crutcher already Skypes into classrooms for “author visits,” at least once or twice a month, but, usually, he is the only one video-calling into class. For at least the next couple weeks, however, he’ll be one of many.

Crutcher now has several Zoom meetings scheduled with high school classes across the country and is in the process of scheduling one with a class at University High in Spokane Valley. He hopes to supply a little comic relief for students and teachers as they forge new ground in this new online-schooling system they are developing.

These virtual classroom visits will be a welcome reprieve from self-isolation for Crutcher, as well. “There’s no way I’m going to sit in front of my computer and write all day,” Crutcher said.

“(For teachers) keeping kids engaged is going to be harder,” Crutcher said. “But you’d be surprised how many kids have a story at home they’ve been writing.”

Crutcher has authored 15 books, including novels, short story collections and an autobiography. In 2000, he won the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for his work in young adult fiction. Last year, Crutcher joined The Spokesman-Review’s Shawn Vestal at a Northwest Passages Book Club event to discuss his most recent novel, “Losers Bracket,” which follows the life of a young girl growing up in the foster care system.

“I’m always looking for silver linings, and this (health crisis) really levels the playing field,” Crutcher said. “Whatever people think, everyone is getting an idea of what it’s like to live in an unpredictable world.”