Talk to DP Forum

Ben Rose

Happy Birthday Old Friend

November 19, 2018

What’s shaking, gate? A Happy Anniversary of your birthing.

I have entered the querying trenches as I have 1 completed work and about 7 WIPs on the back burners. You are the one who initially torqued my interest in things literary.

So instead of revving the engine just to hear the cut-out roar, let me just say plant you now and dig you later.

Daniel replies:

Think of you often, and your square dad. For what it's worth I have noticed this writing thing is more a mug's game even than it ever was. Going back pretty nearly forever it starts with trying sell art to business-heads, then the business-heads selling they know not what to actual people. The one making the art is, if fortunate, clueless. However, every time someone wins the big lottery it turns out they've been buying tickets every week for years and years. Others submit manuscripts to publishers. And, as they say, you've got to be in it to win it.

Allie Oop Wilmot

Where did your extraterrestrial inspiration come from?

November 19, 2018

Daniel Pinkwater!

I’ve never written to an author before because I’ve never liked an author as much as I like you. I’ve got an ample (and growing!) Pinkwater collection in my personal library that is kept next to my bed, so I am always close to my much loved books. Thanks to my ‘4 Fantastic Novels’ I see your face everyday, and it makes me smile!

I lived the first 28 (ish) years of my life in Arizona. I never liked it. As soon as I could, I escaped to Brisbane, Australia. But now, when I read your books, I wish I could’ve grown up in New Jersey. I think I could’ve made a decent Hoboken girl!

It would be hard for me to pinpoint a favourite from your books, because I’m very fond of all of them; but I have a special place in my heart for ‘The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death’ because I listened to the audiobook. I was thrilled to discover that you narrated it. I enjoyed listening to it and ‘The Baconburg Horror’ immensely. I listened to them with my kids and they also got a big kick out of them. 

Just the other night before bed, I was reading ‘Looking for Bobowicz’. That night in my dreams, I was hilarious — I was saying and doing the silliest things, and I blame you and your zany characters. The whole world needs a Pinkwater supplement! The whole world, including any extraterrestrial visitors 😉  …..

… which makes me wonder… have YOU ever had or witnessed any sort of extraterrestrial experience? Seen a ufo? Dated a beautiful space babe? Heard first hand accounts of missing potato pancakes? Hitched a ride and ended up in another universe? Found your parallel cat self? I would love to hear what inspired your fantastic brain to include this paranormal activity in your stories. 

I wanted to send you a physical letter, but this message will have to do. But please know in all sincerity that you’ve improved my quality of life. Thank you for being you. 

Allie Oop 

Daniel replies:

I don't usually make a big deal about this sort of thing, because I'm a snob and don't want to be confused with normal authors who are all the time looking for love and approval, (I am not...I was trained and educated to regard ability to do the work as its own reward), but I have to say getting a full-strength fan-e-mail from a female named Allie Oop puts quite a smile on my toothless old face. Had you grown up in New Jersey, and had you become a decent Hoboken girl, and had our paths crossed, I could then say I had met a decent Hoboken girl, of which I am sure there are many, just I never met one. And I love Arizona, but I can see how you might not have liked it, growing up there. It is often like that, which is why it's lucky there's Australia. In reply to your ridiculous question, this is an interplanetary adventure, I mean this, I mean all of this, I mean the whole thing...where did you think we were, and what do you think we're taking a ride on? Thank you for taking time to write to me. A reader like you makes me think it has been almost worthwhile.

Michael D. Toman

“Happy Birthday!”

November 17, 2018

This is just a quick pixel-message to wish you a “Happy Birthday!” today.

While I would be delighted to hear from you, I also know that “Free Time” seems to be even more fleeting than usual lately for everyone, much less writers attempting to cope with alla those birthday candles blazing away on the cake, so no reply, immediate or otherwise, is necessary or expected.

“Keep Writing and I’ll Keep Reading!”


Michael D. Toman

Retired Reference Librarian & Long-Time Pinkwater Reader

Daniel replies:

You keep reading, and I'll keep having birthdays!

Mel Gilden

Happy Birthday to a Fellow Mug

November 17, 2018

Mr. Pinkwater,

I had no idea it was your birthday, but I am pleased that you are having one. 

This message is labeled To A Fellow Mug because I still have the letter you sent me many years ago telling me that “writing is a mug’s game.” I keep that quote near me always, but it doesn’t do any good. I continue to write, mostly kids books, and more than a few are available from Amazon or Wildside Press.

Very nice that many of your books are being reprinted. That is always a good thing. Right now I am reading Uncle Boris in the Yukon. I don’t have any dogs myself, only cats, but I am enjoying the book very much anyway. My favorite book of yours is The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death. 

I went to John Burroughs Jr. High a few years after you did, and I recognize some of the teachers (the PE guy in particular) and some of the surroundings. Were you a member of the Space Legion?

Thanks for all the wonderful books, and for the early encouragement. 

Hot jets, clear ether, spaceman’s luck,

Mel Gilden

Daniel replies:

I too was pleased I had a birthday, (it is now the day after). If I had no birthday I would not have been here to attend John Burroughs Junior High School, or write all those books, or receive good wishes from you. I was not, to my knowledge, a member of the Space Legion. I was a member of the Remedial Gym Class, is that the same sort of thing?

Harrell Fletcher

hello and thank you

November 6, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your work over many years. I first encountered your stories on NPR in the early 1990’s and was blown away by their simple, humorous, beautiful humanity, then I ran across Fishwhistle and Chicago Days/Hoboken Nights and really loved both, after that I started slowly locating all of your children’s books and young adult novels. I shared the books with friends and they became big fans too. I found myself going back to them at times in which I was having hard life moments and they gave me relief and solace. Eventually, I had a daughter of my own. She is now eleven. I started her off early with readings from all of your kid books, she always wanted more so eventually I also read her your adult books too and she adored those as well. We just finished our second reading of Chicago Days/Hoboken Nights last night. Are there any new books on the horizon that we can look forward to reading?

Thanks so much for all of the happiness you have given me and my daughter,

Harrell (and Bea)

Daniel replies:

What a highly complimentary and pleasing note! I'm a very disciplined artist, and had a very strict education, and was taught to forget praise like this and get on to the next thing...but maybe I'll let your kind words resonate for a day or two. I have a little this and that recently published or scheduled, but I've been distracted for a couple of years with non-writing obligations and I'm just getting ready to start on new stuff. Meanwhile there are tons, (well, more than a hundred), of my books, mostly out of print, floating around, and you and your daughter may find some you like. I will try to come up with projects worthy of great readers like you.

Mark Gerhard

Getting Wuggie Norple back in print

October 18, 2018

My kids grew up on Wuggie Norple, I was a second grade werewolf, Toothgnasher super flash, etc.  I want to buy these for my grandkids, but they are super expensive on amazon and abebooks.  I am a devoted Pinkwaterist.  What would it take to get these back in print?  Can I help?

Daniel replies:

You are not a multi-millionaire by any chance? In case you're not...(some people aren't)...I suggest you look into less out-of-print picture books of mine. Same author, better illustrations, written after more practice. I think the grandkids might be satisfied.


Update on Skolnik Island Beach Club?

October 13, 2018

Looks like it’s been a few years since the last mention of the Skolnik Island Beach Club on the site. Any updates? Like Victor I’ve been waiting most of my life to get back to the island!

Daniel replies:

ve some obligations to get clear of and then I would like to write a novel. I haven't absolutely decided which novel this will be. I have a few in mind, including The Skolnik Island Beach Club. I am noodling on this matter.


Literary Inquiry

October 13, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I have read many of your books. I notice you are old and strange and that I am young and normal. I would like to be old and strange someday, too. Any advice for an aspiring human such as my myself or my kitty?



Daniel replies:

Actually, I am old and fairly normal. I have observed that people who regard themselves as young and normal are often less normal than they think. Kitties are uniformly strange, which would be normal for them. After a while, even as little a while as I've spent writing this reply, the words tend to lose all meaning.

Luke Zabriskie

Do you like my drawing from the Neddiad?

October 4, 2018

My son Luke drew a picture of the thrilling scene on the Ford TriMotor in The Neddiad and he want to share it with you.  

We really love the book and have been listening to it over and over in the car on an audiobook. Thanks for the fun!

Daniel replies:

Luke's drawing is sort of.....magnificent! He is a great artist. Add to that, his mother is named Kristi Zabriskie, which is cool in itself. Thanks for showing us.

kimberly pritchard

Tooth Gnasher Super Flash

September 30, 2018

Mr. Pinkwater,

I learned late in life about your fabulous book, Tooth Gnasher Super Flash.  I had never heard of it.  I am 58 yrs. old.  I wanted to buy it.  I can’t find any company that has it out there for less than $100!

Is there a way to buy this from you?

Kimberly Pritchard

Daniel replies:

Nope. Sorry. I'm not sure I even have a copy myself. If you wait around, and periodically check the various online sources, I bet a copy will turn up for way less than $100.

Nick Westervelt

What if Plumbean’s House were a real place?

September 14, 2018

Hello Daniel, Jill and Lulu!!  

I’m writing to you because I’m starting an arts and events space in Rockland, Maine and I’d like to name it Mister Plumbean’s House, after your loving, accepting, creativitity inspiring character.  

You see, my town is in a moment of confusion.  Long a tourist spot for the glitzy folk from further south, while also a place of respite for artists, sailors and builders, we’ve developed a number of crazy ordinances governing everything and anything, even though we’re trying to be the Arts Capital of the state?!?!  Hard to understand I know, but luckily I was gifted your book and it has all the answers, I am forever thankful.  I’ve purchased a 200 year old chapel, a place of meeting for my community that is no longer needed by it’s builders.  I’m ready to let people paint in the walls, steam shovels, alligators, whatever they like!

I realize it’s a bit late, but I’d like to introduce myself.  My name is Nick Westervelt, I’m 35, I live in a pop up camper inside a garage on a dairy farm on a hill in Union, Maine.  I grew up just south of here, the son of two lesbians in an activist town.  I’ve been involved in the arts since before I was born (my mother’s a violinist you see) and I just can’t seem to stop.  I’ve worked as a welder, a theatrical rigger, a montessori teacher, a farmer, a student, a son and a husband.  I’ve been a painter and a carpenter and a driver, a machinist, a cook and a camp counselor.  I’ve visited 36 of the 50 states and only one other country.  I’ve owned 18 different species of animals, and eaten 12.  

Here’s some pieces that others have written on me and my exploits at various times in my life, I often feel they do better justice than my own explanations.  

Salt Documentary School photos (1997)

Writing (I think this piece is pretty wonderful, captures my childhood well)

Jerry Springer (1992)

Clawhammer Farm Blog (2009-2014)

Planet Money (2010)

New Food Economy (2014)

Knox Free Press (Stupid Paywall, PDF available)

I’d like to invite you to visit me here in Rockland, to see my beautiful town and see my crazy building, it’s 200 years old, and it has a baptism tub.  I can come and pick you up, I can arrange a place for you to stay, just let me know what you need, I can arrange anything but a Blue Lobster (they’re illegal).  No commitments or guarantees asked, I’d simply like to have you over for dinner and hear about your life, and hopefully share some of mine.  Once you’ve seen it in the flesh, you’ll know if the name is right or not.  

Thank you,


Daniel replies:

Sure, you can name your arts and events space anything you like, although I don't think Mr. Plumbean's House is a terribly good name. Fellow around here got hold of a 200-year-old house, very visibly located, and painted it all crazy. The effect was sort of that he was inflicting cruelty on an old structure that hadn't done him any harm. He may have had some solid aesthetic reasons for what he did, but the impression I got was that he just wanted attention. Thanks for including the many links to material about you.

Kelly Maver

What inspired you to write The Big Orange Splot?

September 6, 2018

I have read, The Big Orange Splot, to all of my classes for over a decade. It is by visiting read-aloud for Parent visitation Day at my children’s school. I collect the stories behind the stories to share with others as both an  educational blogger and teacher. My kindergarteners are exploring the many ways writers are inspired and develop stories. It is one of their favorite parts of our day. I would love to share yours if that is possible. Thank you for  creating a story that inspires us to stand out, live our dreams and imagine.

Daniel replies:

This is what inspired me to write The Big Orange Splot. I lived it! Well, I did not paint my house in a very unusual way...just as well, since it was a rented house, and the owner might not have liked all the artwork...but I did live at one time on a "neat street," and by that I mean boring. I was standing and looking out the window at the houses, all the same, and I thought the thought that gives rise to all works of fiction..."What if?" I thought. "What if one of these houses had all kinds of crazy paintings on it?" So, instead of actually painting the house I lived in, and getting in trouble with the landlord, I wrote the story and drew the pictures. By the way, this is what art of all kinds does for allows us to experience things as they might be in addition to how they are.


Memoirs, remembrances

August 29, 2018

My wife and I have avidly read and enjoyed both Chicago Days / Hoboken Nights as well as Fish Whistle. I wonder if you have considered making any further forays into autobiography? I find that these books offer glimpses into a kind of 20th century bohemianism that is not often explored, or chronicled with such skill. It’s a real service to literature!

(For instance, the hints about the”zen cult” with which you were briefly associated are really fascinating.) Anyway, thanks for the good work.



Daniel replies:

Those two books contain whatever number of essays from among 600 to 700 pieces that were broadcast on NPR, and are mostly lost now. I'm not bored with my life, but I am a little bored with my own life story. I'm casting around now, trying to decide what book I want to write next. For the next couple of months, I'm engaged in a project having nothing directly to do with writing, after which I hope I will have decided. Stick around, I usually come up with something.

Bryan Wilson (no, not that one, despite what my e-mail address might suggest)

Trying to remember a title

August 18, 2018

Mr Pinkwater,

  First of all, thank you for the years (<<cough>> decades! <<cough>>) of reading enjoyment.  My first encounter with your books was Alan Mendelsohn in about 1981 or so, but thankfully my school had any number of your books available for me to read, and I read them I did!

  Therein lies my problem, and I will get straight to my question: is it Yobgorgle?

  You see, I read a book of yours during that time that I would love to read again, but I cannot remember which one it is.  I remember very little about it actually, except that it was funny (not much of a clue, I know).  I also remember this exchange between two characters on a fast-moving boat of some sort:

  Character 1:  “It’s a beach!”  (I think the character says ‘beach’, but it could be another word)

  Character 2:  “It’s a wall!”  (I know this character says ‘wall’)

  Character 1:  “It’s a beach AND a wall!”

  I thought perhaps this might be Lizard Music, but after purchasing and re-reading Lizard Music, I found I was wrong but had a great time doing it.  The only other title I think it could be is Yobgorgle, which I have yet to find (not that I’ve looked hard); is it indeed Yobgorgle?  I see from the Amazon blurb that a particular Great Lake is involved, and there is a pig on the cover, which seems familiar.

  I also feel like the book I am thinking of was somewhat like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but again I can’t remember the title of the book, so what do I know?

  Anyway, to reminisce!  After a too-long hiatus away, I took my daughters to our local public library.  None of my beloved hellspawn have turned out to be readers, but I haven’t given up hope.  This has been a few years ago now, but while they looked about I walked the rows of shelves.  I came across the P’s, mopped them up, and took a look for your books.  I discovered among them the Neddiad and was as delighted by Ned as I was by Alan in 1981.

  Normally, this nearly middle aged fellow doesn’t need a reason to act with childish delight, but picking up your books again has given me one!

Thank you!  And thank you for any help you can provide about the mis-remembered book!

Bryan L Wilson, CMfgT, Esq.  🙂

Daniel replies:

Yes, it's YOBGORGLE, MYSTERY MONSTER OF LAKE ONTARIO, and your fragmented recollections are all correct. It's interesting to see how a book I apparently wrote turns into a specific kind of mental compost in the memory of one reader. You actually have a more detailed ready recollection than I do, although I can dredge up the whole thing by making an effort. It's out of print, like most of my stuff, but copies turn up. Possibly best bet is the collection FOUR FANTASTIC NOVELS in which it is included. Thanks for your kind words, and best of luck civilizing your children.

Morgan Elliot

Request in regards to the name Laughing Alligator

August 15, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I am a an aspiring custom bike maker and huge fan of your writing. The time a few years ago in high school when I cut up my bmx bike and welded it back together to form a wacky-looking monstrosity happened to coincide with another read through of Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars.

There came a wave of inspiration that told me I wanted to make the wildest customs under the name Laughing Alligator. I want to make bikes that probably came from the 6th plane of Venus.

For my senior project in high school I made my first scratch-build custom bike, and after a brief hiatus while at college, I am getting back to creating – my next project hopefully to be done by next month. And so I ask if I may put the name Laughing Alligator on my customs in honor of your brilliant book and the ancient Order of the Laughing Alligator. If you like the idea I could even make an extra spicy bike to call Green Death.

With my customs I seek to convey a sense of surprise and wonder similar to that which your books have given me, and I hope to have your blessing to use the Laughing Alligator name. Maybe someday Clarence Yojimbo will borrow some money and buy from me a bike just crazy enough to bring back to Venus…


Morgan Tyler Elliot

Daniel replies:

How nice of you to ask! Obviously you don't need my permission to use the words, "Laughing Alligator," but I am honored, heartily endorse the idea, and wish you great success with your creative, artistic engineering endeavor. This goes for "Green Death" as well, and any other adaptations of phrases, concepts, and images that strike your fancy. I'm interested in seeing a picture of your work if you wish to share one.

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