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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.


Questions Kids Never Ask Rick (But They Ought To)

10 Jun

Q: What’s your strategy when you play the game of RISK?

A: I stockpile all my armies in Australia, have barbecues and lie on the beach while the rest of the world fights it out.

Q: What’s your favorite Monopoly piece?

A: The race car. Somehow I feel that if I’m the race car I’ll move around the board faster and collect my $200 more often.

Q: Have you ever seen a UFO?

A: No. (That’s what they told me to say!)

Q: Why do you have so many spider plants growing in your house?

A: Because they’re almost impossible to kill. I like that in a plant.

Q: Why do you have so many weeds growing in your yard?

A: Because they’re almost impossible to kill. I hate that in a plant.

Q: Have you ever had a weird address experience?

A: Oh yes. When I was fourteen we moved from house number 1650 in one city to house number 1560 in another city. Spooky!

Q: Have you ever won anything?

A: When I was twelve I won a baseball at a Little League party. When I was thirteen I won a bat at a Little League party. The next year I was out of Little League, and I haven’t won anything since.

Q: You live next to several of the best ski resorts in the country, yet have never been skiing. Why?

A: Because if I went skiing I would either like it or I wouldn’t. If I liked it I’d be frustrated because I couldn’t afford to go more often. If I didn’t like it I’d wish I hadn’t gone. So to keep myself happy, I don’t go skiing.

Q: You say your first name is Rick, but what is it really?

A: Eric.

Q: Who did your parents name you after?

A: My father, who lived in Sweden for a couple of years, named me after Eric the Mad, a horrible, brutal old king of Sweden. At least that’s what Dad says.

Q: What were you almost named?

A: I was born on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. My grandfather’s name was Otto Abraham. I was almost named Abraham. But my mother, on the day I was born, cried to my father, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME NAME HIM ABRAHAM!” My father, for the sake of the marriage, did not make my mother name me Abraham (although to all you Abrahams out there, including my cousin Abe, I think it’s a perfectly fine name and would have worn it proudly).

Q: What’s the weirdest animal experience you had as a child?

A: I frequently helped our neighbor two doors away look for his pet wolf when it got out.

Q: What do you know about science?

A: Nothing. But Mr. Science Wiseguy , he knows everything.

Q: Have you ever worked on a presidential campaign? Yes I have! I was Dave Barry’s 1992 Utah campaign chairman.

Q: If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

A: Probably burn it to keep warm. If I had all the money, then the world would have to be using some other form of exchange, so my money would be worthless.

Q: Why do you plan to stop having kids after 42?

A: Because 43’s just too many.

Q: What political office would you like to hold?

A: I would like to be appointed to the office of “Unnamed Whitehouse Source”.

Q: How long do you sleep at night?

A: 5’11”.

Q: How did you get rid of a swarm of bees in your yard?

A: I vacuumed them up. Those were some mighty angry bees.

Q: How do you get a swarm of angry bees out of your vacuum cleaner?

A: I don’t know. If you have any suggestions, send them to me.

Q: What do you like to play on your guitar?

A: Basketball.

Q: Why do you take naps every day?

A: Because no one will give them to me.