Monday, April 30, 2012

Q & A

I have given many, many talks to elementary school children, almost always followed by a question-and-answer period.  I am invariably asked the following questions:

"How many books have you wrote?" (Yes, never "How many books have you written?")
"What is your favorite book that you've written?"

Sometimes I get asked how much money I make (it's fun to explain the royalty system of payment, where authors get 10 percent of the list price of a book - kids are amazed at how little money the author makes from the whole process). Sometimes I get asked how old I am, which I don't mind answering.  Often I get asked where I get my ideas or what inspired me to write, questions that irritate me a tiny bit as I've just finished spending forty minutes explaining in considerable detail where I get my ideas and what inspired me to write.

One kindergartner once raised his hand to ask me a question.  "Now, is this really a QUESTION?" the teacher asked him?  "A question, and not a STORY?"  He nodded.  "A question, meaning something you really want to know the answer to?"  He nodded again.  And then he asked his question, which was indeed a question, and indeed was something he wanted to know the answer to: "Can you tie my shoe for me?"

Today I visited Morikami Park Elementary School in Florida.  I think the fourth graders today asked the best bunch of questions I've ever gotten from schoolchildren:

"What do you do when you and your editor disagree?"
"What do you do when you get stuck in the middle of a book?"
"What do you do when you get to the end of the book and don't know how to end it?"
"What do you do when you get writers' block?"
"What do you do if you don't like the pictures made by your illustrator?

Thanks for the great questions, Morikami students.  It was lovely to meet you today!

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