A few years ago, David and I were both on a panel at a book festival in Eau Claire, WI. Besides being very tall, David is also very kind and charismatic and I could have listened to him read his stories all day. Here is my interview with him.
Stephanie: At what point do you declare a piece of writing "done" ? Do you have a clear "The End" moment?
David: I'm not very clear on when a piece of writing is done. I have stories that I've been working on for almost twenty years, and I can rewrite a novel over and over and over, never getting it exactly "perfect" for my standards. A deadline from an editor can be good motivation for me to finally call it quits on a piece of writing, or just exhaustion and the sense that I can't do anything else, at this time, to make the piece better.
Stephanie: What do you hope will be on your resume five years from now? Do you have a "Sistine Chapel" you're hoping to tackle one day?
David: I have just been offered a contract for the first picture book that I'll be both author and illustrator, so I am very much looking forward to having that on my resume in five years. If I could keep getting published regularly, ideally one new book each year, I would be happy. I also hope to have my current novel, the one I'm writing and rewriting, published in five years!
Stephanie: What's the coolest thing a reader has ever said to you?
David: I've heard some very nice things from people who have read ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOT. One young man told me that he read it once or twice a month while he was in the process of coming out, just to reassure himself that he wasn't alone. A college student wrote that after reading this book, he was motivated to contact a friend he knew in his mid teens and apologize for the unsympathetic things he had called him about being gay. It is rewarding to discover that something I've written has had an emotional impact on readers that has caused them to take action.
Stephanie: Who is your favorite author to read? How do you choose a book you want to read?
David: I don't have a favorite author, but I'm always interested in reading any new picture books by Mo Willems or Phyllis Root. Mostly I read middle grade and YA books, often on the basis of recommendations or buzz I hear online. It worries me that I'm missing some great titles that are slipping under the radar.
Stephanie: What is the last book you read that you just didn't want to end because you liked it so much?
David: THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA by Tom Angleberger was a very fun middle grade novel about a fifth grade outcast who might not be as clueless as everyone thinks. I was disappointed that it was over in just one reading.
Stephanie: What author, alive or not, would you most want to meet? What would you ask them?
David: I'd love to meet Shakespeare and tell him that his plays and sonnets are still being performed and read hundreds of years later. There's some controversy about who the real Shakespeare was, and I'd love to find out more about the real man (or woman!) behind all of his work.
Thank you David!!