Describe your latest project.
My new book is a novel for kids aged eight through twelve and it's called Smoke. Smoke is the story of Colton Hudson, the son of a casino dealer and a cowboy. After Colton moves to California with his mom, he loses his Maine coon cat and, in the process of trying to find him, learns about cougars, courage, community, and just who can show up when the chips are really down.
Describe your most memorable teacher.
Marguerite Jukes (my mom).
My mom taught elementary school until she was in her seventies. She wasn't actually my schoolteacher. But, among other things, she taught me how to make excellent use of a costume barrel. She (reluctantly) permitted me to shove around the living room furniture and create a venue to perform my early works: plays — all starring me. Louis Sachar's book Sideways Stories from Wayside School was based on my mom. It was written when Louis was working as a teacher's aide in her classroom in Berkeley. I'm not sure if she allowed a student to bring a goat to school, but I wouldn't be surprised.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A cowboy. Wahoo! With a big pale palomino horse that rears up and whinnies, a hand-tooled saddle with silver trim, a ten-gallon Stetson hat to wave in the air, woolly chaps, a snap shirt with arrows on the pockets, and cowboy boots with undershot heels and inlaid roses up the sides. Or a cowgirl: the same get up, but with red lipstick on.
What's your clean, kid-friendly curse-word substitute of choice?
I would have to go with dang or dagnabbit. Jeeeeze peas also works.
What the ?!*?!?!?**!???@*!*!*!!??!! — also a good option.
What book by another author do you wish you had written?
Flossie and the Fox by Pat McKissack and whatever next book that gets written by Milly Lee.
What three things would you bring to a desert island?
My husband, Bob, a big bag of Cheetos, and a boat.
If you could have lunch with a person of your choosing — living or dead, fictitious or real — who would it be?
President Barack Obama, no question about it.
What kids' book do you think would make a great movie — that isn't one already?
Hmmmm. Let's see...how about Smoke by Mavis Jukes?