Daniel Pinkwater is brilliant. So are his books. So are his answers to this interview. So stop reading this intro and just skip to the good stuff. But if you are interested in more glowing preamble about the incomparable author that is Daniel Pinkwater, allow us to indulge. Daniel Pinkwater creates stories that inspire others to dream, to grin, to snicker, to push, and to write. Our favorite Daniel Pinkwater book is the classic “Lizard Music”, followed closely by the “Hoboken Chicken Emergency” as well as “The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death”, but there are so many more. If you aren’t familiar with his work, you will find many of his books at your local library and you can also listen to many of them for free at The Pinkwater Podcast. For example, here is the first chapter of his classic “Lizard Music”, as read by Daniel Pinkwater.
“Lizard Music” – Chapter 1 – The Pinkwater Podcast
When we decided to expand our Full Van Fun content to include books, we knew our first interview had to be Daniel Pinkwater. He was one of the most formative authors from our youth and is now one of our children’s favorites. For this #8isEnoughQuestions interview, each of the following questions was written by one of our Full Van Fun family members and answered directly by Daniel Pinkwater. Enjoy!
1) Who was your favorite author as a child, and how did they influence your work?
I do not do the “favorites” thing. What would you respond if someone asked which was your favorite child? However, I can tell you about _A_ favorite, one among many, and that is Edward Lear, author of, and more or less inventor of, NONSENSE. He was a fat, nearsighted, Victorian painter, (a very good one–he gave lessons to the Queen, but not for long…possibly he was too scruffy and odd-looking to have around the palace), who liked to make up poems that were completely illogical, and do goofy pen-and-ink drawings to go with them. His Complete Book of Nonsense was quite big and fat, and full of things I thought were funny and wonderful, and I checked it out of the library over and over. Many years later I talked a publisher into doing a book of selected poems by Lear, with art by Calef Brown who is like his artistic descendant. I got to select the poems and write a little about Lear. His work did not influence mine in any way, because I am completely logical and matter-of-fact.
2) In “Lunchroom of Doom”, why alien meatballs?
Well, that should be obvious. Earth meatballs are very seldom large enough to eat people, and it is even more rare for them to do so. Whereas, your alien meatball will eat you in a minutes.
3) What type of animal is your favorite?
Again with favorite! I like all kinds of animals, but I have most to do with dogs. And I know most about dogs–not that I really understand them or know a lot about them…this is after owning dogs, and reading about dogs, and going to classes and seminars about dogs, and being a professional dog trainer over the past 47 years. Every day I learn something else that tells me I don’t begin to understand them. But I do like them, love even.
4) Do you think polar bears like ice cream?
I know polar bears like ice cream. I have seen polar bears eat ice cream, and it was obvious they liked it quite a lot. A polar bear might eat you, no question about it, but if you brought enough ice cream you could probably work something out.
5) When I first read your books more than 30 years ago, they were written with a humor, creativity, spark, and perspective unlike anything else at the time. What impact do you hope your books, like Lizard Music, have had on the generations that have enjoyed them?
First, I hope they will find pleasure in reading them, laugh at the jokes, and enjoy the stories. And that would be enough. But, if some readers see how nice it is to put words together, and how the use of language does something that makes us feel a certain way that’s pleasant…that would be good. And, further, if some readers enjoy the experience enough that they feel like trying to write something themselves, that would be even better. And, you know, it’s happened! Even some famous and wonderful writers, much more famous and wonderful than me, have told me that they got the idea of being writers when they read my books!
6) Where did you come up with the idea of “Snarking Out”?
It is based on the practice of, “Clarking Out,” which is exactly as described in my books, only at the Clark Theater, which was a real theater in Chicago, and I have Clarked out myself many times. The streets were much safer back then, or we thought they were, and nobody was too excited if kids sneaked out of the house late at night. Except for one kid who was eaten by a polar bear, nothing bad happened to any of my friends.
7) Do giant chickens lay giant eggs?
Not more giant than themselves, I would think. How giant a chicken are we talking about? I know of one, the Jersey Giant, which is fairly gigantic, for a chicken, but not like King Kong or anything.
8) How do you write such good books?
I am easily bored, and have high standards–this is why I get very impatient when I read something and it doesn’t seem to be very carefully and well done. Well, when I write something, I am reading it–you have to read it if you’re writing it, not to do so would be insane–and if they are, as you say, “good,” it must be because I am such a good reader.
Thank you Daniel Pinkwater for a brilliant #8isEnoughQuestions interview and even more importantly, for your lifetime of stories that perfectly balance insanity and humanity. Full Van Fun is all about families, parents and children together sharing farm to family food, epic travel, great music, and more (like books!). Whether it is stories about incredible destinations like Craters of the Moon, interviews with family friendly entertainers like comedian Mike Phirman, or ranking our top coffee destinations, be sure to sign up for our mailing list and Follow Us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest so you don’t miss anything! Also, don’t forget to check out our new contest for a chance to win a great new album from either KB Whirly or the Whizpops!