Questions Kids Ask Rick

10 Jun

I talk to lots of groups of kids, and whenever I talk the kids have lots and lots of questions they want to ask me. This leads to serious problems. When hundreds of kids put their hands in the air, I can’t get to them all. After some time the blood leave the children’s hands, and then fingers fall off. And then the principal, teachers and I have to go around and pick up all those fingers and figure out who they belong to and glue them back on. It takes a long time and the kids miss their lunch, which makes them grumpy. And then they can’t do their homework for at least three or four days and that makes the teachers mad. These questions are in no particular order because kids don’t ask their questions in any particular order.

Q: Why do you write?

A: Because…
…I love the creative process.
…I like playing with words.
…Writing lets me pretend to be someone else.
…I want to leave as much of value as I can when I’m gone.
…I like reading my stories to my kids.
…I like to belong to writers groups.
…I like something I’ve done to add to the lives of others.
…I like to communicate what I believe about life.
…I like to see my name in print.
…I’ve tried every other career, and this is the only one left.

Q: All that?

A: And more–I write for the same reason I eat. Because I’d die if I didn’t. It’s an obsession.

Q: Why do you like to write for children?

A: Children’s literature is incredibly varied. I like to write for children because I can write about anything in almost any fashion. I can be more inventive in writing for children than I can in writing for any other audience.

Q: What’s your social security number?

A: None of your business.

Q: What’s your bank account number?

A: None of your business. Come to think of it, it’s hardly any of my own business either, since I doubt there’s anything in my bank account.

Q: What should good children’s literature do?

A: First it should delight, and second, teach. If literature for children attempts to teach without being delightful, it will fail.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: Absolutely everything is a source of ideas. For example, your shoes are giving me an idea for a book right now.

Q: How much money do you make?

A: Not nearly enough.

Q: How many books have you written?

A: Several hundred. How many have I had published however? See my bibliography.

Q: Will you take me to Disneyland?

A: If you pay all of the expenses.

Q: Have you ever met any famous people?

A: Lots of them.
  1. Escorted Aaron Copeland for a day when he was performing with the National Symphony Orchestra. I got carsick in the limo (but I didn’t throw up!)
  2. Got lost driving Frankie Avalon to the airport.
  3. Ran out the car battery while waiting to pick up Maxim and Dmitri Shostakovich not long after they’d defected from the Soviet Union.
  4. Met Mario Andretti’s cousin in southern Brasil (at least the guy SAID he was Mario Andretti’s cousin).
  5. Got run off the road by some of Robert Redford’s employees.
  6. Had lunch with Eldredge Cleaver.
  7. Was in a Sunday School class with a teenage Donny Osmond.
  8. Sat in back of Steve Young at McDonald’s. He had a picture of himself on his t-shirt.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

A: Some books take me an hour to write. Some books take me several days. Some take me several weeks. It depends on how long the book is, how well the book is developed in my mind, and how much research I have to do for the book.

Q: How old do you have to be to get a book published?

A: How old are you? That’s old enough.

Q: Do you have any kids?

A: Five. So far. I’m hoping that at least one of them will be able to support me in my old age–which should be here any minute now.

Q: Will you buy me a new bike?

A: If you’ll buy me a new car.

Q: Is writing fun?

A: For me it is. For others, plumbing might be fun. I hope it is. I have some pipes that need fixing and I hope my plumber enjoys himself, because the job isn’t going to be easy.

Q: What do you hate most about writing?

A: Deadlines. And not knowing how much money I’m going to get, or when it’s coming.

Q: What would you be if you weren’t a writer?

A: A tour guide, or a songwriter, or a presidential adviser, or if Harold II hadn’t lost the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the right 100,000 people had died in the right order–King of England.

Q: What jobs have you had?

A: Yard worker, copy center clerk, dishwasher, cook in a Mexican restaurant, secretary, arts administrator, research assistant, technical editor, school teacher, educational software designer.

Q: Tell us a joke.

A: That’s not a question. That’s a command.

Q: Would you please tell us a joke?

A: Okay.
Q: Who’s the father of popcorn?

A: I don’t know, who?

Q: The Popcorn Poppa! Oh, you wanted a GOOD joke! Next time make that more clear.

Q: Were you a good student?

A: Was I a good student? Was I a good student? Well, I don’t want to brag or anything, but I was a pretty good student.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: A kid. (Yes, I do things backward.)

Q: What’s your favorite book you’ve written?

A: All of them! (It’s like asking “What’s my favorite kid?”) Okay, I admit, I do have some books I like better than others, but I’m not telling you which. I’m more interested in what’s YOUR favorite book I’ve written.

Q: What’s your favorite book you’ve read?

A: I don’t have one favorite book. When I was a kid I read every funny book and every mystery series I could find. Now I read all kinds of books, but my favorite are funny books, the funnier and weirder the better. I like Roald Dahl, Daniel Pinkwater, Babette Cole, John Scieska, Dave Barry, Patrick McManus, David Wiesner, E. Nesbit, and anything you’ve written.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: When I was a kid I did some writing just for fun. Mostly really silly stuff. But I decided I wanted to be a professional writer when I was in my early twenties.

And now, if you have any more questions for me, click on e-mail Rick Walton . If it’s a question I think a lot of people might want answered, I’ll add it to this question list.


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