- What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be some combination of writer, teacher, and drummer. I never really thought I'd end up doing all three, though.
- When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don't remember exactly, but it was really, really early in life.
- What’s your first childhood memory?
Some kid named Anthony from down the block threw sand in my eyes, and my Grampa Sol sang the Sandman Song to me until I calmed down and fell asleep.
- What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?
My eyes are terrible without my glasses on. Once when I was 13, I was showing off while waterskiing. In the middle of doing tricks on one ski, I crashed into a 15-foot-long wooden float. Afterward, I couldn't walk right for days!
- What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Watching the 1977 and 1978 World Series with my dad. Or when my parents got me my first drumset.
- As a young person, who did you look up to most?
My Grampa Sol. He was a teacher and author, which drove me to pursue those careers as well.
- What was your worst subject in school?
- What was your best subject in school?
Either English, or making my friends laugh.
- What was your first job?
All through high school, I was a tutor and summer camp counselor.
- How did you celebrate publishing your first book?
With a big party in my backyard – tents, catering, and even a wiffleball game.
- Where do you write your books?
Mostly at the computer in my kitchen, but sometimes on a laptop wherever I happen to be.
- Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
From kids. My book ideas always start with a kid doing something that puzzles or amazes me.
- Which of your characters is most like you?
Oh, gosh, ALL of them. No one character is 100% me, but each has big chunks of my personality, habits, strengths, and weaknesses.
- When you finish a book, who reads it first?
My wife. In fact, she reads my pages daily while I'm writing every first draft.
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Both; I just need a nap in the middle of the day.
- What’s your idea of the best meal ever?
My last Thanksgiving with my Dad. I wish we could have had a hundred more just like it.
- Which do you like better: cats or dogs?
Neither – I'm completely allergic!
- What do you value most in your friends?
- Where do you go for peace and quiet?
Anyplace where I can play an instrument or read.
- What makes you laugh out loud?
Just about anything. I laugh a lot.
- What’s your favorite song?
Just about anything the Beatles ever wrote.
- Who is your favorite fictional character?
Probably Hagrid, from Harry Potter. He has such loyalty, and such a huge, brave heart.
- What are you most afraid of?
Failing to come through for the people I love.
- What time of year do you like best?
- What’s your favorite TV show?
I don't really have one. I guess my default answer would be any televised Yankees game.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want for company?
My family. Or anyone who was good at ship-building.
- If you could travel in time, where would you go?
Back to my old summer camp in the Poconos, around 1985. Or to the moment when either of my kids was born – there's just nothing else like becoming a parent.
- What’s the best advice you have ever received about writing?
If you want to get better at writing, you'd better read a lot.
- What do you want readers to remember about your books?
I don't really think about what I'd like them to remember, but I hope that while they're reading, they come to care about my characters as much as I do.
- What would you do if you ever stopped writing?
Go back to teaching. There are time when I really miss my old students.
- What do you like best about yourself?
My thick, lustrous hair. Just kidding! Really, I am proud that I am kind, and that I try my best to make other people's lives easier.
- What is your worst habit?
- What is your best habit?
I dunno, probably my addiction to reading.
- What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
- Where in the world do you feel most at home?
At home. Or in NYC, Houston, Philly, or London. It's funny: I like big cities a lot – but being in my quiet little house with my family is better.
- What do you wish you could do better?
Play guitar. I'm OK, but I am terrible about practicing.
- What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
Maybe that I love to cook, but hate using recipes?