Why do you write for kids?
I love writing for kids. Mostly I like making them laugh. I also like it when kids tell me that one of my books helped them. I did not write the Lucy Rose books as a divorce guide but but loads of kids going through a separation tell me those books were comforting. I like knowing that.You are known for writing funny books, have your ever tried to write a super serious book? How did that turn out?
Before I wrote my first published book, Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me, I wrote a mystery for adults. I didn't know it at the time but what I was really doing was teaching myself to write a book. It is now in a rarely-opened drawer in my office. I'm grateful it's there and not in libraries. I would not want to be tied to writing mysteries.
Is it hard to write sequels or more books about the same characters without repeating yourself?
The hard part about writing sequels is remembering what you've written in previous books. I'm always having to go back and see if Melonhead is 9 or 10 years old and what grade Lucy Rose's dad teaches. It's tricky but interesting to figure out how to stuff all the facts in the sequel books. You have to introduce everybody quickly so you won't bore the people who read the original while also being thorough so a reader who starts mid-series isn't confused.
Is it hard to be funny? Are you as funny in real life as you are in your writing?
I think is one of the great compliment when people tell me I'm funny. When I write I tweak the humor as I edit and revise.What kinds of jobs did you have before you “made it” as a writer?
The oddest job I ever had was being a detective for Lord and Taylor's department store. I was 17. They hired my friend, Julia, because in those days that particular Lord and Taylors had cabinets that hung down from the ceiling and Julia and I were too short to reach the upper shelves. They called us the knee-high spies. Even though our boss taught us many ways to spot shoplifters, we never caught anybody. Probably because we could not believe that people, much less adult people, would steal. After a while our boss said the store didn't need us anymore. It took me years to figure out that we'd been gently fired.
What is your current favorite book (can be a kid or adult book) and what was your favorite as a kid?
Such a hard question! I love P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie and Jeeves series. Lately, I've been reading the Adrian Mole series. Sue Townsend is brilliant at mixing the hilarious with the sad. And I have a long list of children's authors I love.
Do you have a favorite Newbery winner?
Katherine Patterson. She's extraordinary.
When and where do you write?
I don't write as often or as long as I should. I used to work in my office, which is pink and green, full of eccentric things and decorated with picture book art. But when I got a laptop I started working in the Politics & Prose bookstore cafe. A lot of writers work there and they have great sandwiches.What are you working on now or having coming out soon we can look forward to?
I'm currently working on the 4th Melonhead book. It is due at the end of May so I forcing myself to stop procrastinating. The third MH, Melonhead and the Undercover Operation, comes out next September.
Have you ever gotten rejection letters?
I have gotten one rejection from an agent. The other four agents I submitted work to (in 1991) haven't gotten back to me yet. Now I'm grateful. I like speaking directly with my publisher.Do you feel like a famous author? Has anything fun ever happened because you are famous?
Every so often kids spot me and introduce themselves and occasionally booksellers, librarians and other writers recognize me. That is my idea of perfect fame.How many bookcases do you have?
We have lots of 5 bookcases, each of which covers a whole wall. In the paperless future I'll just call them shelves. Maybe I'll start a Pez dispenser collection.
Do you have any book tours coming up that will bring you to Indiana?
I won't know where I'm going on tour until August. But I'd love to go to Indiana. When I was a kid our family drove to Evansville from Washington, DC every few years, in a car without a radio. My youngest sister, Nell, was carsick most of the way. But when we got there we would stay in the convent attached to St Mary's Hospital, with my great aunts who were the kind of nuns who wore the Flying Nun habits. My brother and sisters and I loved going because 1. We could pick anything we wanted at the hospital cafeteria, which we thought was living large. 2. People send nuns an amazing amount of candy. They had an open box policy. 3. They had overly-waxed linoleum floors that were great for sock-sliding.