As kids, my best friend Billy and I were serious monster lovers. I had the hand-painted models of Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolfman, and the Mummy, and we knew every Universal monster movie by heart. In fact, the first book I ever wrote (in second grade) was The Two Brothers At Monstertown. Once I grew up and became an author, I tried several times to turn my early Monstertown tale into a picture book or easy reader, and failed miserably. Then, after a school visit during which I’d showed the group my 2nd grade book, one boy said, why don’t you make it into a mystery? Duh. That was the answer.
They say write what you know – have you ever encountered a real monster?
Thankfully not. I’ve met a few awful people and once I saw a shark when I was swimming in the ocean. But no monsters yet.
If you had to switch places with one of your characters – which one would it be and why?
It would probably be Chet Gecko. I’ve always thought it might be fun to be a private eye. (Plus, the ability to crawl up walls is pretty cool.)
How old were you when you first began to write?
I wrote the usual stories in grade school, like any kid. But then I abandoned writing for drawing, and didn’t come back to it until after college. As an adult, I first began writing freelance magazine and newspaper articles in my mid-20s. I didn’t try my hand at fiction until my 30s.
Who inspires you the most? Why?
I’d have to say my readers. Hearing their enthusiasm for my stories always keeps me going.
You have a number of books in print – have you written any short stories or screen plays?
Sure, I’ve written several short stories for collections such as Guys Read and Been There, Done That. One time, my Chet Gecko book was optioned to be made into a movie, and I got to write the screenplay, but ultimately they couldn’t raise the money to produce it. Still, it was a fun creative stretch to write in the screenplay style and explore that type of storytelling.
Who is your favorite author – besides yourself.
Too many favorites to pick just one, but here are some that I return to again and again:
- Mark Twain
- MT Anderson
- Walter Mosley
- Laini Taylor
- Holly Black
- Leigh Bardugo
- Rick Riordan
- Raymond Chandler
- AA Milne
If you had the chance to turn one of your books into a play, which would it be?
I think my picture book SNORING BEAUTY would make a terrific musical play. I mean, what’s not to love about a giant snoring dragon?
What sort of advice do you have for young people that want to write stories?
Two things above all: read, read, read, and write, write, write. You must fill your head with excellent stories to get a feel from the masters how storytelling works, and you must write over and over until your voice emerges. There are no shortcuts.Share