Interview with GeekLit superstar Daniel Pinkwater

Geek Culture

When Icame up with 10 books for young geeks to enjoy this Halloween, I listed two fantastic titles by Daniel Pinkwater. But really I could have filled the whole list with Pinkwater monster books and still had plenty left over:

The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, The Neddiad, I Was a Second-Grade Werewolf , The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror, The Frankenbagel Monster, Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario, The Werewolf Club series, Wempires, The Yggessy, Pickle Creature and the all-time classic which is a perfect introduction to the Pinkwater multiverse, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency.

That’s a lot of monsters: werewolves, vampires, a giant chicken, the Ghost of Rudolph Valentine and an cyborg avocado.Yet, none of them is particularly scary.

Illustration from I Was A Second-Grade Werewolf, by Daniel PinkwaterIllustration from I Was A Second-Grade Werewolf, by Daniel Pinkwater

A not-scary illustration from the not-scary book I Was A Second-Grade Werewolf by Daniel Pinkwater

Pinkwater is no horror writer — and his fans are glad of it. Here’s what the man himself has to say about it:

Q: A theme in your books is the unscariness of supernatural beings. Werewolves attend public school. Ghosts just hang around. Aliens never do much planet-conquering. Shamans are a little too chatty. Why so little “horror?”
A: I imagine a lot of writers who deal with these topics rely on things other writers have written, and have no first-hand experience with the supernatural. Growing up in Chicago, ghosties and ghoulies were so abundant that they got in the way. Nothing scary about them, and as I believe I wrote somewhere, a bite can just be a werewolf’s way of saying hello.

Q: Any idea why you return to this theme so much as opposed to, say, baseball heroics or middle-school romance?
A: One writes what one knows, but a heroic baseball middle-school romance might be a good idea.
Q: Where did you get your Monster Cultural Literacy growing up? TV, movies, books, comic books? If so, which ones?
A: See my answer to the first question. “Cultural,” and “Literacy” are words almost never used regarding my work.
Q: Any other books or other entertainments you would recommend to young folks this Halloween season?

A: Full-immersion bobbing for apples is a fun Halloween activity.
Q: A lot of people think only of candy at Halloween. But that’s a narrow view, which excludes among other things pastry. Any suggestions for us in the Halloween Foodstuffs category?
A: This year we are giving the trick-or-treaters meat. Frozen veggie-burgers for the sensitive.

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