FAQ is not one of Mrs. Mallards ducklings.
FAQ stands for “Frequently Asked Questions.”
So here are some.
What was your favorite book when you were little?
When I was very little, in kindergarten I would say, my favorite book was “Harold and the Purple Crayon.”
Huh, maybe that’s why I called my character Harold!
You could read when you were in kindergarten?
No. I had no idea what reading was. I just thought all those black squiggles were part of the story. There was Harold, there was his purple crayon and the purple things he drew with it, and it was up to me to make up a story every time I opened the book.
After a while, my mother told me there was an actual story in the book, made up of those black squiggles. I didn’t believe her for one single second about this, so she read me the story. Then I made her read it again, and it was the same story! That’s when I learned what “reading” was, but I didn’t get any good at it until about second grade.
Why did you write Harold and the Wimple-Dimple Dimmer-Wimmer?
Uh, I kind of had to. It was there, rattling around in my head, and every once in a while it would knock and say, “Hey, write me.” I kept pretending I didn’t have to write the book, even that I didn’t want to write the book, but once I started it, I knew it was the write thing to do (geddit?).
Was it hard to write?
Not really. I liked Harold from the start, so it was easy to hang out with him.
How did you start?
One day, when I was writing down whatever sentences came into my head, the way writers do when looking for an idea for a story, the first sentence of the book popped into my head: Harold thought the Wimple-Dimple Dimmer-Wimmer was an excellent piece of machinery. Talk about weird, I wasn’t even making up words that day!
So there it was, on the page, looking up at me, clear as day, almost like it was saying, “Well?” So I thought, I better find out what a Wimple-Dimple Dimmer-Wimmer is, and since there had never been a Wimple-Dimple Dimmer-Wimmer in the entire history of the world until it popped into my head, I had to write a story about it to find out what it was.
Was it hard for you to tie your shoes when you were little?
I don’t remember, so I guess it wasn’t. Learning how to ride a bike was hard, though, it took me a long time to understand what “balance” was, because I was one of those kids that wasn’t very good at standing on one foot (I was very, very wobbly).
So why did you write a story about tying your shoes?
Because other things were hard, and when you’re little and learning how to do things, any thing that’s hard to do is hard to do the same way other things are hard to do.
You don’t think you can ever do it, you don’t understand how other people can do it without thinking about it, and the more you think about it when you are trying to do it the more impossible it is to do.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, even if you are an ace shoe-lace tie-er.
Did you make the pictures?
No. That would be impossibly hard for me, and I would never be able to do it for at least 10 years, and I wanted to publish Harold way before then. I like making words, and needed to find someone who liked making pictures.
So who made the pictures?
A really talented person name Alex Tsuper. It’s worked out pretty well, because I’m good at writing and he’s good at illustrating. This is his website:
His website’s not in English.
Nope. That’s the cool thing about the Internet, you can find exactly what you’re looking for, no matter where it is in the world.
Where do you write?
On my computer. It’s a laptop, so I can write practically anywhere, like a coffee shop, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, or on the back deck. But mostly I write in my office at home.
And I also have what grownups call an “easy chair” in the office that is nice to curl up in with my laptop and read what I’ve written to make sure I like it, as long as there’s no cat curled up in it already.
Sometimes, I have to check twice to make sure there’s no cat in it because the cat is black and the chair is brown and in that corner of the office you can’t always tell them apart.
Do you like being a writer?
I do. I always wanted to be a writer, but I was a little afraid because, to be a writer, you have to write, every day.
To be a writer you have to write every day, and I was afraid I was too lazy to do that. I always had great ideas in my head, and could always tell stories, but writing stories…you have to sit down and do that. And if you have a job, that job takes up the whole day, and sometimes when you come home from work you are tired (from working at the job all day) and don’t have enough oomph left to do the things you want to do.
That was me for quite a while, but that’s not me now.
Now, I am a writer, and I like it a lot. A LOT.
Was it hard to make a website?
Not really, because I already knew how to do it.
Have you written any other books?
Yes! Although most of them are grownup books about how to use things. I’m glad I was good at explaining stuff to people, because—and you might not believe me but I tell you it’s true—grownups don’t know everything and sometimes need to learn something new in order to do their jobs.
BUT, I did help create a really useful book about how to help you help your puppy to be a good dog. I helped my friend Gordon Fontaine, who has a great company called Zen Dog Training, publish the iBook “The Zen Method of Raising a Puppy.”
I really really liked doing that, because some dogs I’m afraid of but working on that book helped me understand what dogs think about and how not to be afraid of them!
Are you going to write any more books?
I am I am I am!
I am working on “Bleck a Wek” which is about two, uh, creatures who…well, you’ll just have to wait until it’s published.
I am also doing some research for a historical series that take place in Boston. The first one is about a fictional 14 year-old apprentice brickmaker who’s involved in the building of Faneuil Hall (1740-1742). Boston has a very interesting history, very interesting indeed…