Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas from everywhere. My life. My kids' lives. Old family stories. Newspapers. Books. TV. It's important to keep your ears and eyes open. When you write, you should strive to be the kind of person (in the words of Henry James) "on whom nothing is lost."
How long does it take you to write a book?
That depends on the book! Obviously, a picture book takes much less time to write than a novel does. I wrote the first draft of I Know What you Do When I Go to School in less than twenty minutes. On the other hand, it took me five years to write Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-man by Night.
What's your favorite book youíve written?
My books are like my kids: I love them all EXACTLY the same. There are days, however, when I like some of them better than others. Right now, for example, Iím really liking A Loser's Guide to Life and Love. It comes out this June - I can hardly wait!
Does it bug your kids when you write about them?
They don't care until they hit the eighth grade. Then they care. A lot.
How do you research your characters?
I try to create experiences for myself that help me understand the people I'm writing about. For example, when I was working on Let the Good Times Roll with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, I wore an eye patch.
What did you learn from this experience?
That it's hard to see when youíre wearing an eye patch.
What's your favorite book?
I love the Lord of the Rings triology, actually. The Return of the King is the only book I re-read regularly.
Which authors do you admire most?
I love any writer who can make me laugh. Some of my favorites include P.G. Wodehouse, Dave Barry, Sue Townsend, Mark Twain, Henry Fielding, Louise Plummer, Louise Rennison, Meg Cabot, John Mortimer, and Nick Hornby. I also like to read my brother Jimmyís e-mails. Heís the funniest person I know.
Do you visit schools?
Whenever I can! If youíd like me to visit your school, please contact me.
What advice can you give would-be writers?
Obviously you have to write. Try to write something every single day - even if it's just a journal entry. And you should read, too. Lots and lots. I also think itís a great idea to listen to Books on Tape. Hearing how an author crafts his or her sentences can be very instructive.
Which deceased author would you most like to go out to lunch with?
I make it a point not to eat lunch with deceased authors.
How much money do you make?
Not as much as Stephen King does.
How old are you?
How old do you think I am?
Do you dye your hair?