The Kidlit Interview Series
Obviously Max Brooks—I’d want an expert to help ensure my survival. If he’s not available… let’s go with Chekhov. We’ll have a lot of meaningful silences, and he’d be our team medic. (BRB, writing a zombie-fighting Chekhov spec script.)
2) Look, I got a time machine on eBay! Where do you want to go? (Said time machine may possibly malfunction and leave you there. Possibly. It was *very* cheap.)
Let’s go back to the early 80s so we can see Queen in concert and then write really cheesy horror movies full of fashion montages!
3) What’s your favourite thing about writing for kids?
Getting to talk to young readers about reading and writing—especially when they’ve read some of my work. It’s the coolest thing in the world, even when the kids say, “I didn’t like this part/character/everything about what you’ve done,” because then I get to say “Ah-ha! Tricked you into reading it anyway!” I am constantly impressed and awed by how incredibly nuanced and insightful elementary students can be when talking about writing. And most of the time they don’t even realize it.
4) A witch has cast a spell on you (sorry about that) and you’ve woken up as a character in a children’s book – what’s your special talent or power?
I hope it was a rapping Into The Woods kind of witch so I at least got a show before I turned into a book character. As much as I want to say that I’d have something cool like telekinesis or telepathy, I think I could have a lot of fun as a spunky kid detective who remembered everything he saw or read, kind of like Cam Jansen. This is kind of wish fulfillment, because I have a really hard time with retaining stuff I read usually.
5) What’s the scariest or strangest thing you’ve ever done?
When I was about four or five years old I dreamed that Harry, the sasquatch from Harry and the Hendersons, was just standing in my bedroom doorway, smiling that CREEPY smile of his. Not moving or blinking. Just grinning. When I tried to run past him, he pulled out a tape recorder and played Dolly Parton’s “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That,” which somehow stole my voice (I was really into The Little Mermaid at the time), so I couldn’t tell my parents that Harry was going to murder us all.
I am still not on good terms with sasquatches.
6) What’s something you wish you’d known about writing when you started out? What’s something you wish you’d known about publishing?
For publishing, it would probably have to be how much of my time as an author is spent doing stuff for my books that’s not writing. There are marketing plans, interviews, school visits, emails—a world of other stuff that eats away at all that time you’re supposed to spend working on the text. Don’t get me wrong—most of it is really fun (like this!)—but it’s time not spent working on books. For writing, probably the importance of putting material away for a little while before doing an edit or revision. Taking a little break makes all those typos and plot holes so much more obvious than when you’ve been working in the text nonstop for weeks!
7) What would your daemon be?
I wish I could say an adorable red panda, but in truth I think I’ve already found my daemon. He’s a black cat named Loki who’s kind of self-absorbed, likes to nap, and gets very vocal when he’s hungry. Look how much he loves me:
Stephanie Burgis, author of The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson!