Well, first I want to say thank you for the interview! I think it’s seriously cool that you are reaching out to writers. I have no doubt you’ll be a great writer yourself, if you aren’t one already! But on to the questions:
1. when you were my age, did you like to read? What a fun reading age that was! 9 was the year that I read the Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia… Book 3, The Voyage of the Dawntreader, was always my absolute favorite of the series. Of course, you have to add to these about a bajillion comic books and Mad Magazine books (I LOVED Spy Vs. Spy and the Don Martin books!)
2. what book made an impact on you? Oh, there are so many! I have to pick just one? Geez. Okay. Well, Norman Bridwell of Clifford the Big Red Dog fame had a number of other books. One that I really loved was How To Care For Your Monster. It was a practical guide to taking care of your pet werewolf, or vampire, or Frankenstein’s Monster! I loved monsters growing up, and this book really struck home with me… The idea that even the most bloodthirsty monster needs to be cared for like a regular family pet—it was clever and original. And Norman’s illustrations were amazing. They still are!
3. How do you come up with book ideas? Sometimes it feels impossible to come up with book ideas! And other times they just fall into your head all at the same time like raindrops. I guess you could call those “idea showers”. You never can predict when it will happen. The real problem is remembering them! More than once I’ve come up with a book idea that seemed like the most amazing idea ever for a book, and I’ve thought, “I should write that down… but how could I possibly forget such a brilliantly, awesome and amazing idea anyway? Pshaw!” And then, of course, I totally forgot what the idea was. Now I carry around a little notebook everywhere I go so that no matter when or how I get good idea showers, I can record them. Lots of writers do this.
4. What author or book have you read recently that impacted you? That’s a great question. There is an illustrated children’s book that just came out two months ago that is so amazing, so simple and beautiful, that I cannot get it out of my head. I bought it and immediately gave it to another person within an hour of buying it. That’s how good it was! It’s called Cicada, and it’s written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. I think it will be my favorite book of the year.
5. Is there a new or lesser known author kids should know about? Another great question! Russell Ginns is a relatively new author with his Samantha Spinner series. He’s just about the funniest person that I’ve ever met. I highly recommend his books.
6. What advice do you have for kids who want to be an author? The best writers are readers. I work on Broadway, and have read a thousand scripts for plays and musicals at this point (okay, that’s an exaggeration: but a few hundred, certainly!). I read books all the time on top of that. It’s really helped my writing tremendously. Stories are so much a part of my life that creating them has become second nature to me. The trick is finding your own voice when you write… and that just comes with time and practice.
7. Do you hear from your readers?what do you like about it? Receiving a letter or email from a reader always brings a smile to my face. When I got into this business, I really just wanted to have an impact on another human being. Just one. Every time someone reaches out to me, I feel like all the hard work and effort I put into my books is worth it! (And I hope it never gets old).
8. If you could portal into any book, what book would it be? Oh, that’s a fun idea. If I could go into any book at all, I’d probably choose Edith Hamilton’s Mythology book. I’ve always loved mythology, and the idea of meeting Zeus, or Hermes, or Artemis is a very exciting idea! Or I would choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. I have always wanted to meet Titania and Oberon and all the fairies. Okay, I’m switching it: I’d choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream first and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology second. Can I do both? You’re in charge of this, right?