1. Why write a book about a kid whose brain runs off?
I guess it's a bit of an autobiography. And, truthfully, I've always been interested in the way people consider their brains to be separate from their bodies and their bodies to be the vehicles that transport their brains around town.
2. Okay, but why have a brain run off? That's kind of weird.
Well, our language is full of expressions that refer to our brains as missing: he lost his mind, my mind wandered off, he was thoughtless, he made an empty-headed comment. My editor, Marcia Leonard, and I talked a lot about all those little phrases and how we could squeeze more of them into the book.
3. How did you originally think of the idea?
When I was growing up, my dad was always telling me and my six brothers to "get down from there, or you'll crack your head open." I found myself saying that to my own kids, but of course I had to add “…and your brain will run down the street." I think that's where the idea came from.
4. Did you work closely with David Clark, the illustrator, while he was doing the book?
No, in most cases the author does not interfere or communicate with the illustrator. The illustrator needs to be free to interpret the story and inject his or her own ideas into the story. That's pretty much the way it usually works in this business.
5. So what did you think when you finally saw the art?
It was a really strange experience, because when I write I sort of see the story and the characters in my head. Dave Clark's illustrations were so different that at first I laughed and was kind of surprised. Then I got really excited. I think he did a masterful job. By the time I got through the whole book, I was calling everyone to tell them how cool the whole thing was.
6. What's your favorite part of the book?
I think I like the end best, when there's a hushed crowd gathered around Bobby. Dave cleverly put all the characters from the book in this scene, and you can pick them out. It's just sort of a nice climax to the story, and Dave did a great job of giving that illustration energy and anticipation.
7. What was the best part of writing this book?
Well, this was one of the first books I wrote after deciding to be an author. And it's my first picture book to be released, so it's a great feeling to see a seed of an idea I had seven years ago suddenly appear as a book for tons of people to enjoy. I must say, I also enjoyed working with my editor, Marcia Leonard. She really worked hard to make this story as good and as fun as it could be.
8. What's the lesson of the book?
I'm not sure there's a lesson as much as a fun and goofy adventure. It's basically about a kid chasing his brain around the neighborhood, but there's also a subtle message about both your brain and your body being equally important, and you can't ignore one in favor of the other.
9. Did you always want to write children's books when you were younger?
Nope, I wanted to be a comedian, or a funny actor, or a professional class clown. What's great about being a writer is that you can entertain people and make kids laugh even though you never actually meet them in person. So, in a way, I'm an entertainer, just like I always wanted to be.
10. What's the best thing about being a writer?
There are practically no office politics involved. You can be super silly and get paid for it. And some days you get an email from some kid somewhere who tells you he was cracking up reading one of your books. That's the best part, for sure.