Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Tim Carvell, debut author of the uproariously funy middle-grade novel PLANET TAD. You can read a FREE, NICE AND HEARTY EXCERPT HERE. Yesterday we gave you a few words from Tim’s editor, Rosemary, and today we hear from the man himself…
(I mean… how great is this? If that mottled blue/gray background doesn’t pull you right back to middle school, I don’t know what will!)
Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
When I was 9 or 10, I loved “A Cricket in Times Square”, but I think I loved its sequel, “Tucker’s Countryside”, even more, because I’d much rather read a book whose hero is a talking mouse with a cricket sidekick than a book whose hero is a talking cricket with a mouse sidekick.
As for what I’m reading now, I just finished “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street”, by Michael Davis, which is pretty great — not just because it’s got weird tidbits like the fact that Oscar the Grouch was originally orange, but also because, for some reason, it’s got a whole chapter that’s just behind-the-scenes stories about Captain Kangaroo’s love-hate relationship with his writers.
What is your secret talent?
I can wiggle my ears. (It’s not so much a “secret talent” as “a talent I have that I’ve been asked not to do in public”.)
Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.
A talking animal. I don’t know why, but it does.
My current obsessions are…
Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time with Finn & Jake”, because it’s got such a simple premise, but it keeps finding new directions to go, and new sorts of jokes to tell. Jenny Slate’s “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” shorts, which are very, very funny but come from a place of pure sweetness. And Jon Klassen’s “I Want My Hat Back”, because the drawings are hilarious, and it manages to tell a perfectly-paced joke in book form.
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Just keep writing — the more you write, and the more feedback you get, the sooner you’ll get better at it, and the quicker you’ll develop your own voice. Also, don’t write a book about an orphan who goes to a British wizarding academy. It’s been done.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
Actually, that’s about 90% of what I’d hope for right there — that a person would read my book. But if I could ask for more beyond that, it’d be that a person reading my book would laugh.
Tell us more about how PLANET TAD was born.
The original idea for “Planet Tad” came back in 2005, when two editors at MAD suggested that it might be fun to do something in the voice of a young blogger; after I’d written the column for a few years, the book came about thanks to Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins, whose sons really liked the column. She asked if I’d be interested in expanding it to book length, an idea that really appealed to me, because it was a chance to explore Tad’s world a little more fully, and tell stories in a little more depth. Writing the book was a lot of fun, both because it was a chance to do writing that’s both a little more personal and a little lighter than my day job, and because it was a chance to revisit my awkward younger self. Tad’s pretty much a younger version of me, and I have really vivid memories of my middle school years — and not just the classrooms or the hallways of my school, although those are pretty much what I picture when I’m picturing Tad’s environment. What I remember even more vividly are the emotions of what it was like to be in, say, eighth grade — that weird mixture of not wanting to feel like a kid anymore, but being confused, daunted and hopeful about the adult world, all at the same time. Hopefully, a little of that — alongside the jokes about video games and lemurs — comes through in the book.
Thanks Tim, for sitting through our grueling, sweat-inducing, pulse-poundingly hard-hitting barrage of questions!