You might call Lisa Yee the Beverly Cleary of Geekdom. When she published Millicent Min, Girl Genius it established her as an author who can go beyond geek sterotypes and create a smart, socially awkward character who is worth getting to know.
But she also has a dark side… microwaving marshmallow peeps and documenting the gooey results on her blog. With Halloween approaching — and Peeps available in pumpkin, ghost and black cat shapes — it seemed like a good time to get her advice on doing sinister, yet sugary, deeds in the kitchen…
Q: Once upon a time, your hobby was collecting Winnie-the-Pooh stuff. Now it’s microwaving peeps. What went wrong with you?
Excuse me? Nothing went wrong, per se. I evolved. Whereas, collecting is fun and costly, blowing up Peeps is fun, relatively inexpensive, and provides cheap thrills.
Q: How does someone who has never microwaved a Peep go about starting? What’s the Hello World of Peep melting? What can one aspire to?
You start with those sugary marshmallow Peeps. It’s best to have two kinds, like Pumpkins and Ghosts, since they will be doing battle. That is, unless you prefer a Civil War.
Then you place them facing each other on a paper plate and give them weapons–like wooden toothpicks.
Once they are armed, stick the whole thing in your microwave for about 45-ish seconds and watch them get REALLY BIG.
The first one to pop the other with the toothpick wins.
After you’ve mastered Peep duo battles, you can move on to full-fledged wars with multi-Peeps. It’s what my son and I like to do.
Q: Are the Peeps still edible?
Ooooh yeah. They’re totally tasty, like roasted marshmallows . . . which they are. Sort of. (For the record, my favorite Peeps are ones that are about three weeks old and stale. The older they are, the more chewy and delicious they taste.)
Q: You’re pretty public about your Peep zapping. Have you ever heard from the Peep-making folks at JustBorn?
Not directly, but someone once told me that the President of the company had seen by blog and liked it. Plus I travel with a plush Peep named Peepy. She’s got her own webpage … and she even has her own MySpace.
Q: With the publication of Millicent Min: Girl Genius, you became the queen of Geek Kidlit. Are you a Geek yourself? What’s this about a Geek anthology?
Um. Yes, I am a geek. Or rather, a nerd. (To me, geeks are more science-oriented. I’m more bookish and nebbish.) I have a story in the recent anthology for teens called GEEKTASTIC: STORIES FROM THE NERD HERD. It’s about the angst of being a baton twirler at a school where that’s not appreciated.
I’ve got another semi-geeky book just out called BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY). In it, fourth-grader Bobby runs for student council, but when he gives his speech he doesn’t realize that a pair [of his] little sister’s panties have static clinged themselves to his sweater. It’s this sort of writing/behavior that will forever keep me from becoming one of the cool kids.
Q: Can you recommend some Halloween/monster/ghost books for Young Geeks? (Especially any that you read yourself as a youngster.)
My favorite Halloween book is GEORGIE’S HALLOWEEN by Robert Bright. Sadly, I think it’s out of print. But then there’s, “The Night the Ghost Got In,” a short story by James Thurber. I actually lived in his house when I was the Thurber Children’s Writer-in-Residence and met the ghost. As far as monsters are concerned, there’s a little book I read as a kid called WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. I think that one may still be in print.