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Kids' Q&A

Sid Fleischman

Describe your latest project.
Before turning myself into writer, I was a professional magician. I had been inspired by the fabled exploits of Harry Houdini, the escape artist and magician who walked through brick walls and made elephants disappear. As a teenager, I had come to know his widow, Bess. Decades passed before it occurred to me to write a biography of the world's greatest trickster. I could bring the special insights of a magician to his life. I knew how his tricks were done.

Once I began writing Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini, I regarded it as a great gift to be handed the characters and plot in advance. I didn't have to invent anything, as I was obliged to do in my many novels. Writing Escape! was as pleasant as having breakfast in bed.

  1. Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini
    $10.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

  2. The Giant Rat of Sumatra: Or Pirates Galore
    $3.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

  3. The Midnight Horse
    $5.99 New Trade Paper add to wishlist

    The Midnight Horse

    Sid Fleischman

  4. Disappearing Act
    $5.99 New Trade Paper add to wishlist

    Disappearing Act

    Sid Fleischman

  5. The Whipping Boy
    $3.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    The Whipping Boy

    Sid Fleischman

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
In the company of the young prince in the Arabian Nights tales who buys the magic carpet. I'd like to take a ride.

What was your favorite story as a child?
Robin Hood. During my knockabout young years, I never left home without a wooden sword in hand to fight the evil king's men in Sherwood Forest.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A magician. I still do tricks.

Why do you write books for kids?
When I didn't know any better I wrote books for adults. Only after I came to my senses did I begin to write for kids. They are better readers. They love to laugh (my books are often funny). They welcome favorite characters into their lives. Stories they like may stay with them for a lifetime. Kids are more fun.

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I receive letters from kids every day. Some of them are funny, such as the boy who wrote to say that I was his favorite author, though he'd never read any of my books — but that he intended to. His heart was in the right place. The letter that became an event in my life was from a kid who addressed me as "Dear Mr. Big Shot Writer..." Me, a big shot? I puffed up a bit, though I knew he was only jesting. Still, whenever I get stuck in a story I give myself a pinch to remind myself that I have been regarded as a big shot writer and to get on with it.

What are you favorite characters in history?
Abraham Lincoln. Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the name Mark Twain. Both were among the few authentic American geniuses.

Make a question of your own, and then answer it.
Q: Why don't you retire? You've written an entire shelf of books.

A: I'm too lazy to retire. And I have too much fun dreaming up stories. spacer

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