We’re just a bunch of big kids at heart here at The Insider, so when we heard children’s author and Warner resident David Elliott was coming to Gibson’s Bookstore, 27 S. Main St., on Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. to promote his new book, “Finn Throws a Fit” (Illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering) we were instantly giddy.
Not that David needs to do much promoting. “Finn Throws a Fit” has already been favorably reviewed by “Publishers Weekly” and “The New Yorker,” and David is no stranger to the “New York Times” best-seller list thanks to his other witty books.
All that aside, David still took the time to answer our questions. Or else, who knows, we might have thrown a fit ourselves.
I saw on your website that you have a son – how old is he? Is he an inspiration for your work?
When Eli was younger, I learned a lot about kids by eavesdropping on him and his friends. He is now 23, recently graduated from Sarah Lawrence and interning at Nick Wechsler Productions, the company responsible for, among other great films, the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s, “The Road.” I’m crazy about him. He is a very good and honest(!) critic, by the way.
Your books seem like a lot of fun for both adults and children. Do you write to entertain kids, or to keep adults entertained while reading their children? Or is it a little bit of both?
While I’m always happy when an adult tells me her or she enjoys my books, it’s much more gratifying to hear that from a kid. I love those letters from a third grader, say, in Kansas, that begin with, “Your book made our class laugh so hard we couldn’t stop!” Or the boy whose father told me that after reading “The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle,” his son was asking all the adults in his life if they knew the meaning of “lugubrious,” because, well, he did (the word is explained in the book). Of course, it’s terrific when both adults and kids can enjoy a book together – the bonding that occurs when that happens and the kinds of memories it creates. It’s one of the great privileges of writing for younger people.
In your book, Finn throws a fit. When was the last time YOU threw a fit?
Do you mean today?
You seem to have had quite the assortment of jobs (Popsicle stick maker in Israel?) Is being a children’s author your best gig yet? Why or why not?
Recently, I received a letter from a woman who takes care of an autistic boy. The boy wouldn’t permit anybody to touch him, but after reading “Wuv Bunnies” (Yes, I wrote a book called “Wuv Bunnies from Outers Pace!” Ya wanna make something of it?) in which the good bunnies occasionally smooch the hero on the nose, the boy allowed the teacher to kiss him for the first time. I just can’t think of a better job.
What was the first story you remember writing?
I’m from a working class family in a small town in Ohio. When I was 16, I decided that my ticket out would be through writing, so I wrote a story and sent it off to “The New Yorker,” a magazine, by the way, I’d never read. It came back a couple of months later – ripped in half.
Every time I think of this it makes me laugh. The poor junior editor. Perhaps he’d been fighting with his wife. He’s tired. Frustrated. The end of a long day. My story. Who could have guessed then that many (many!) years later, my work would be reviewed so nicely in that same magazine. Life is strange, no?
As a children’s book writer, we’re sure there are times you feel like a big kid. Does your wife ever think you’re acting like a kid?
And last, but not least, how do you feel about Concord?
A fabulous independent bookstore next to a fabulous bakery, an independent theater, Indian food, the Barley House and the Capitol Center for the Arts broadcasting the Met Operas? Who could dare ask for more?
David Elliott will be at Gibson’s Bookstore, 27 S. Main St., on Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. Gibson’s has many more free, family-friendly events in store. Be sure to check these other authors out! For more information, call 224-0562 or visit gibsonsbookstore.com.
Nov. 28 at 9:30 a.m. Willem Lange, “Favor Johnson: A Christmas Story.”
Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. Jane Yolen, “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?”
Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. Jennifer Ericsson, “Whoo Goes There?”
Jan. 9 at 1 p.m. Author Leah Marinsky Sharpe and illustrator Jane Marinsky, “The Goat-Faced Girl: An Italian Folktake.”
Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. Marek Bennet, “Nicaragua: Comics Travel Journal.”
For more information about David Elliott, visit davidelliottbooks.com.