photo credit: Jon Wolf
(taken primarily from the dustjacket of Chicago Days, Hoboken Nights)
Daniel Pinkwater is a commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and author of more than 50 books for children and other people of good taste. Among his titles are Fish Whistle, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, I Was A Second-Grade Werewolf, and Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Did you like reading as a child?
- Are you writing any new books?
- Why did you decide to have the lizards playing on the television at that time?
I didn't decide. It just seemed obvious.
- How did you know when you liked to write books?
I sort of always like to write starting with when I learned how.
- Where do you live, and do you like living there? If you don't, where would you like to live?
I live on an old farm, and I like it a lot.
- Do you have a middle name? If so, what is it? Do you have any children? Do you have a wife?
I have a middle name. It used to be my front name. I switched it.
- What is your favorite book that you've written?
I don't like any of the books I've written. Next one will be better, I think.
- How do you come up with your ideas for your children's books?
Wrong question. You should ask "How do you develop ideas?".
- What inspired you to be an author?
I sort of fell upon it. It seemed like fun. And it is.
- What is it that you enjoy about writing?
You can do it indoors.
- Is LIZARD MUSIC your best book?
I don't know. Is it?
- Where did you come up with the idea of the Snarkout boys and the Baconberg Hound?
Baconberg Hound? I didn't write one, but it is a good idea.
- What is the best illustrator of your books?
My wife Jill, and after her, me.
- We loved FAT MEN FROM SPACE! Any chance they'll be back?
The fat men come back in Slaves of Spiegel, to be reprinted next year in an anthology from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
- Why do you enjoy writing so many silly stories, like Borgel?
Borgel is not a silly story. You must be a silly questioner.
- Do you like better to write or to tell a story?
Writing and telling are almost the same, the way I do it.
- Do you base your characters on people you know?
- In the HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY, why did you choose Hoboken as the setting of this book?
Hoboken is a neat place. I lived there. Besides it is a true story.
- In The BLUE THING, what really is the Blue Thing?
I have no idea. And I wish I hadn't written that book.
- In the SNARKOUT BOYS and THE BACON BERG HORROR, of all the animals why did you choose a werewolf?
Werewolves are much more common animals than you might think.
- Did you have a favorite author when you were little, and why?
I had, and have, many favorites.
- How come you picked Parsippany to write about in Aunt Lulu? I live in Parsippany.
Do you ever see LuLu? Tell her hello for me.
- Did you go to college to learn how to be an author? If not, how did you learn how to write books?
I went to college, but I learned to write by reading-- and writing.
- Where do you get all your names?
My parents gave them to me.
- What was your easiest book to write and why?
All my books were easy to write--doesn't it show?
- How long did it take to write The Hoboken Chicken Emergency?
Nine hours and twenty-seven minutes, over a period of six months.
- Is Norb collected anywhere?
There is a collection of Norb, but it cannot be found any longer.
- Which one of your books do you think relates to you the most?
None of them.
- In the book, BLUE MOOSE, why is the restaurant in the middle of nowhere?
Mr. Breton didn't know about location, location, location.
- In the book, FAT MEN FROM SPACE, why did you have the fat mens' leader like potato pancakes as his favorite food?
Ever have potato pancakes?
- Why did you decide to make the lizard band play when they wanted to take over the world at the same time?
They didn't want to take over the world. They just wanted to play.
- How old were you when you started writing?
Eight or nine, maybe younger.
- Where did you get your weird sense of humor and ideas?
I only report the truth.
- How did you come up with your titles?
I pay a title company to look them up. Look in the Yellow Pages.
- What is the name of your next book?
See answer 34.
- What do you think was the best book/story that you have ever wrote?
I haven't written it yet.
- What tips (if any) do you have for kids wanting to be writers and/or for writing?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun.
- Did you ever do something strange, odd, weird, not normal as a kid?
- Who do you imagine your audience to be? Describe the child or adult or alien that will stalk into a book store or library and walk out with your latest creation.
What a scary question.
- Why did you write the word "mush" a lot in your books?
Some people say my books are all mush.
- Is there really such a thing as a doodle flute?
There might be.
- Why did you use weird names in The WUGGIE NORPLE book?
What was weird about them?
- Do kids find your sophisticated humor appealing? How do you know?
That you think it's sophisticated tells me a lot about you.