Four campers from the writing camp at Hofstra University came into the city with Kidsday to see Dan Gutman, the author of “My Weird School” book series. We were all very excited to learn more about him, and he gladly gave us a lot of interesting information. Not only that, we were in the real HarperCollins’ office.
Dan’s favorite things to do are riding his bike, throwing Frisbees and bowling. His favorite food is watermelon. He told us that yesterday he brought home a huge watermelon, which will be eaten in less than a week.
We asked him where he would live if he didn’t live in Manhattan. He said although he raised his children in the suburbs, his home is the city. Want to know something funny? His daughter is named Emma, just like one of our campers. Speaking of which, Dan Gutman figures out who to dedicate his books to, giving credit to the person who gave him a good idea.
Did you know that Dan took French in High School? The only problem is that he didn’t absorb much of the language because it was boring for him to learn. But he wishes he could learn Spanish because a lot of people speak it in New York City. On Dan’s bucket list is that he wants to travel the world. We discovered that Dan is very concerned for the future generations. He believes that the generations before us has made the earth uninhabitable for the future. He also wants to change to renewable resources such as solar panels and wind power.
We asked Dan if he ever wanted to make one of his books into a movie. He answered with an elated yes. He would definitely need some kid actors should that happen. He says that his humor comes naturally to him. We wondered what his favorite joke was. “What is pink and fluffy? Pink Fluff.” he says.
Dan laughed as he said that he was never that athletic. He loves the saying, “if you’re not good at it, write it.” We were very curious about which of all the characters he wrote about would be the one he would want to hang out with. He had to think about it, but he ended it with a character named Johnny Hangtime because he was an awesome stunt man.
Can you believe that Dan Gutman wasn’t going to write books for children? He really wanted to write for the adults, but then his children were born and he was inspired by them. He gave it a try and succeeded with the “My Weird School” series. It was such a good series that the publishers asked for the “Fast Facts” series.
We wondered how Dan came up with the titles of his books. He says that he made up synonyms for the word crazy and came up names that rhymed with it. Have you ever noticed that the adults in the books are always crazy? That was intentionally done because Dan thought that kids would laugh about all the adults’ screw ups. He was definitely right.
Before we wrapped up the interview, we asked about Dan’s writing. He said he wanted to rewrite his very first fiction book because he believes he would be much better than he was in the past. He thinks he has improved over the years. I asked him if there were any questions kids never asked him that he wanted to answer. Surprisingly, he said he wanted kids to ask him about the writing process. He said that he jots down ideas and organizes it from there, unlike some authors who can just look at the blank page and type/write.
Dan Gutman is an amazing man. He was quite a normal person. He had his favorite hobbies, he liked specific foods, and he liked to do normal outdoors things. We thought he would be rich and basking in fame and glory; on the contrary, he is just like us: a regular person.
You can find out even more about Dan at his website: dangutman.com.