1. When you were myage (11), did you like to read? Not really. I was more into drawing. I did read comic books… but didn’t really get into books until high school when I discovered The Hobbit. Drawing was always my thing. I always had my head down with a piece of paper and pencil. Drawing Drawing Drawing.
2.What book make an impact on you? Comic book was Spider-Man. All I wanted to do for the first 30 years of my life was be the comic book artist on Spider-Man (I actually got to fulfill that dream in 2002) Book was The Hobbit. It was the first book that ever captured my attention. Drew me into the writer’s world. It really was wonderful.
3.Is it hard to come up with book ideas? No. I have twin boys. They’re always getting into something. Always an inspiration for me. Pirates, Aliens, Ghosts, Robots, Giants, Egyptians, and of course… Animal Crackers. They’ve been a constant source of inspiration to me for the last 17 years. I have TOO many book ideas now.
4. How did Animal Crackers become a movie? I have watched it a couple times and loved it. What is it like to see your book as a movie? I had the idea while playing with the boys (they were about 7 or 8 at the time) in the backyard. We were eating those Barnum’s animal crackers and I had the idea of “What if, when you eat this Lion cookie… POOF! You’re a lion!”
The boys loved it… so I wrote a comic book/graphic novel for them..
Years later, I turned it into a screenplay for a movie. It took 3 more years from there to find an investor (in China of all places) to believe in me. To trust me enough to lend us enough money to make the movie. From there… it was pretty fun. I travelled to New York (I live in Franklin, TN), London, Los Angeles, and Valencia, Spain to meet the cast and work with the animation studio.
I got to meet Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (this was their FIRST time working together), Sylvester Stallone, Ian McKellen, Raven-Symone’, Danny DeVito, Patrick Warburton, Harvey Fierstein, Gilbert Gottfried, Wallace Shawn, Tara Strong, James Arnold Taylor, and Lydia Rose Taylor. I got everyone’s autograph and took pictures. Because I’m a geek.
I even got my wife Donna to play Petunia the fat lady and my son Logan (one of the twins) plays Owen at 12. It was so weird hearing Ian McKellen acting out words that I wrote. Me! Gandalf was speaking lines that came out of MY head!
6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Keep writing. Finish what you write. FINISH! Don’t start something and give up. You learn by finishing,getting feedback, and learning from your mistakes. Let people read your work. And be open to criticism. But most of all… be like Dory. “Don’t stop swimming”
But… with writing.
7. As an author do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? Yes. I made a comic book called the Dreamland Chronicles where I put a page a day up (5 days a week) for 13 years.
The story changed because I was getting so much feedback along the way. I’d see what was working and what didn’t work.
It was so good. I learned a lot. And the fans were instrumental in guiding the story. Eventually, we had 34 million readers coming to the site.