Describe your latest project.
I'm busy working on the fourth installment of The Sisters Grimm in which the girls discover a shocking secret about their mother. It's kind of a mother's day card for my own mom. I'm also working on a picture book inspired by the music I grew up with and I'm toying with a few television projects that have come my way. Oh, and the dog could really use a bath. That's probably at the top of the list.
What is your favorite family story?
The first thing that comes into my head the movie A Christmas Story about a young boy named Ralphie who's only wish for the holidays is a Red Rider BB Gun. A lot of kids have never seen it and that's a real shame but It's one of the funniest films ever made about the holidays. Every scene is fall-out-of-your chair hilarious; from Ralphie's dream of dying from soap poisoning to his friend's tongue getting stuck on the frozen tether-ball pole! I watch it every year and when I have kids of my own it's going to be mandatory viewing.
If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke is one of the most thrilling books I've read in a long time it's like Harry Potter for grown-ups. What I enjoy about it is the mixture of actual historical events with a wild fantasy about competitive wizards. The combination of magic and history is so gripping, and I wish I could live inside Clarke's creation where magicians step out of mirrors and move entire towns to prevent them from being attacked by Napoleon's army. I felt like I had stepped into her world and was very sad when I got to the end.
What was your favorite story as a child?
The book that captivated me more than any other was The Mouse and The Motorcycle. Like the motorcycle, the story is fueled by imagination. I checked it out of the library and must have read it a million times I remember owing quite a bit of my allowance to late fees. I would say that book is the single biggest influence on my own storytelling.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be everything! I changed my mind from week to week on what I wanted to be. One day it was a fireman and the next it was rodeo cowboy. I remember an adult told me once that I had to make a decision that I couldn't be everything I wanted to be. I was very frustrated by that answer. Maybe that's why I write I can create worlds filled with people who do the things I wanted to do when I was seven years old and that allows me to imagine what those occupations might be like. Still, I have my hopes up that I will get to be Spiderman someday. If only I could get a radioactive spider to bite me I'd be all set!
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
An amazing group of eleven-year-old girls came to a signing I had in Indianapolis and they had written a song about Elvis, the two-hundred pound Great Dane in my series. The song was very elaborate and had its own melody and several versus. The girls all knew the song by heart and sang it for me in the store as people watched. I was so touched by the effort they had made and got a little choked up. I think it was the first moment I knew that what I write actually means something to people.
Tell us about your pets.
My dog Daisy is a West Highland Terrier. Everyone says they have the smartest dog in the world but I'd put Daisy up against anyone's. I have no doubts she could do my taxes at the end of the year. She's also famous. I thank her in all my books for being such a good dog and people ask me about her at nearly every signing I've ever done. I suspect that Daisy is probably more famous than I am.
Who are your favorite characters in history?
I have always found inspiration in people who have spoken truth to power; Galileo, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Benjamin Franklin, and Helen Keller. Most of these people were tormented and persecuted for speaking their minds but their perseverance made them heroes and made our world a better place to live. These days, I'm finding quite a bit of inspiration from The Dixie Chicks, as well.