Frequently asked questions
How many books have you written?
I have had more than 130 books published so far. My first was A Big Day for Scepters, which came out in 1977. You can see the whole list in my complete bibliography.
Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas come from a lot of different places – my imagination, my experiences when I was young, or even ideas inspired by other books. I pretty much do all of my writing in an office in my house.
Do you ever get stuck when you're writing?
Not if I can help it. One thing I do to avoid having that happen is to skip all around a story if my ideas in any one part are running out. Another thing I do is to knowingly write something dumb (because I can't think of anything better) just so that I can keep going. (I try my best to remember to fix the dumb parts later).
Do you ever start writing something and then decide it isn't any good?
Of course. But taking a deep breath and experimenting with an idea is part of the writing process. It's perfectly fine to decide that a story isn't working after spending a little or a lot of time on it. When that happens, I just put the story aside and start on something else. (If I never finish the story, I may still be able to use parts of it in something else).
Why do you write so many different kinds of books?
I don't know. I do know that every story fits best into one format, so, for example, it's not good to stretch a picture book idea into a novel – or cram a novel into a picture book. When I first think of an idea, I often don't know what kind of story it will turn out to be. I guess I just have a lot of different-sized ideas that I try out to see what will happen next.
Does it take a lot of discipline to write?
I'm not sure if "discipline" is the right word (and besides, it's tricky to spell). Writing is hard and fun at the same time, and writing children's books is the best job I can think of having. So if I didn't do it, I'd have to do something I like less. That possibility certainly helps keep me focused.
What's the longest book you've ever written?
The Wilder Summer is the longest at 164 pages.
What's the shortest book you've ever written?
Well, even my shortest books (except for the board books, which are in their own special category) are still 32 pages. Among those, Trucks has the fewest words – 84.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It all depends on the kind of book. Generally, I spend several months on al the drafts of a picture book or easy reader. A chapter book tends to take longer, anywhere from 6-9 months. However, I do work on more than one book at a time.
What's your favorite kind of book to write?
I don't have any one favorite. I really like the variety. Being able to try so many different kinds of books has helped me stay enthusiastic about every book I write.
Where can I find out more about you and your books?
I'm always happy to answer your questions, so you can reach out to me via the contact page on my website or Instagram. If you want to read more about me, you can check out this article from Encyclopedia.com.