Talk to DP Forum

Kent Peterson

Crazy in Poughkeepsie

June 18, 2022

Of course I bought Crazy in Poughkeepsie as soon as it came out and it’s a super fun book, but this isn’t about that. It’s about how whenever I’m in a bookstore, I go to the “P” section and look for books by Pinkwater and if I find one cheap (used or whatever) I buy it even if I already have it, so I can put it in a Little Free Library or pass it on to some smart looking kid.

A couple of days ago, I was in Zenith books in Duluth, Minnesota and found TAILS OF THE BRONX by Jill Pinkwater. It passed my random read test and I figured if she lives with Daniel she must be a good egg, so I bought it and am reading it now.

Jeepers, it’s a terrific book. Not like Daniel’s stuff but kinda like Daniel’s stuff. Anyhow, I’m just writing this to say that now I’m a fan of two Pinkwaters, both of whom write books that are great for folks of darn near all ages (and I say this as a 63 year old human who is not a spambot).

Daniel replies:

I think Jill is much the better writer than myself. Humans and spambots agree.


Jack

Creativity

June 9, 2022

Years Back – listening to NPR – I heard a broadcast by D.P. In it he said something to the effect of …

This is it – I am going to give you the secret. You get a space where you can work and not be disturbed. You go there for an hour each day to work on your project. The deal is that you work on the project for the set time – or do nothing at all – nothing else, for the given time period.

I have practiced (my own version of) this and I find it Very helpful and a great practice.

I have also tried to find it online and listen again and even share it – but I cannot find it!

Can you tell me where to find this cool creativity boost or am I just imagining all of this? Can you tell me where to listen to or read what you have to say about the creative process or whatever you call it?

thanks – especially if you help! (ps – so how do I prove that I am not a ‘spambot’ or that if I am that I am a spambot interested in creative thinking?

Jack

Daniel replies:

I don't call it the creative process. I don't call it anything at all. Also, unless the NPR commentary to which you refer is in FISHWHISTLE, or CHICAGO DAYS HOBOKEN NIGHTS, or HOBOKEN FISH AND CHICAGO WHISTLE, which is a bindup of the two collections, then I have no idea where you might find it, but you seem to remember the idea quite well.


Leopold Trout

a letter from a fan

May 28, 2022

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I’ve been a big fan of your work as long as I could read (Alan Mendelsohn is one of my favorites, and I am currently looking to purchase a brass moon potato of my own), and I felt it was right to send you a message of thanks for writing the books that influenced my sense of humor so much. I believe the first book of yours that I ever read was Blue Moose, originally introduced to me by my mother at the age of seven, with Fat Men from Space, the Magic Moscow trilogy, and the rest of her collection quickly following. Now, after aging another nine years, I’m as big a fan as ever, but I am still left with this question: where exactly was Borgel’s Old Country?

Greatest regards,

Leopold Trout

Daniel replies:

It was originally a province of the Even Older Country, and borders on the Fairly New Country. Don't they teach geography in school any more?


Andy Papier

Best books for Pre-K

May 28, 2022

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

 

My name is Andy and I live in Chicago. Just recently I joined the Chicago Reads Book Buddy program that connects people like me with particular schools and their students. I was partnered with Smyth Elementary School and immediately thought of your books, which had a huge impact on my childhood. I was hoping to get your recommendations for Pre-K students? I most likely will buy a few 🙂

 

I am sure these kids will love them.

 

Best,

Andy

 

Daniel replies:

There's a whole bunch of polar bear books, from two different publishers I recall, YOUNG LARRY, AT THE HOTEL LARRY, ICE CREAM LARRY, BONGO LARRY, and IRVING AND MUKTUK TWO BAD BEARS, BAD BEARS IN THE BIG CITY, BAD BEARS AND A BUNNY, plus more. Great illustrations by Jill Pinkwater. I don't know what's in print, or available on Ebay, but look around. And thanks for asking.


Douglas Dove

Timeline in Neddiad series?

May 21, 2022

So as a soon to be 56 year old childless man with a penchant for juvenile fiction, I regret to say I found myself reading my first Daniel Pinkwater book last year after being diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. My wife knew that books are the best medicine in most instances, and stocked me up with a supply from used book stores and thrift shops. One of those was “Adventures of a Cat Whiskered Girl”. Me being a cat person I gravitated to it first (as far as dogs, nothing better than a Tri Color Rough Collie, it’s the snout, love Peach!) From my first reading and rereading, I was so taken with Big Audrey and Molly. And once I found Audrey’s story started in a previous book it led me to order “The Neddiad” and “The Yggyssey”. After that a whole new world opened up! So my question is, should I be so fixated with a cogent timeline? I figure “The Neddiad” is set circa 1949 and “The Yggyssey” and “Adventures of a Cat Whiskered Girl” in the early 50’s. I do so like you mixing real world places into your stories and having a ball looking them up. Well just the other week I finished “Adventures of a Dwergish Girl”, which seems to take place before she ever met Big Audrey and is set in a fairly contemporary Kingston and NYC (or am I mistaken?). And now I have on back order “Crazy in Poughkeepsie” and reading the blub online makes me think Molly is a character that might end up eventually in the “looney bin”. So in a series based in the assumption of a multitude of alternate universes, should I be surprised of books being written in a chronological disorder? I am finding it to be a hoot and challenging at the same time. I was just wondering if you, as the creator, think the same and I would appreciate any feedback. By the way, after two major surgeries and just finishing up lengthy chemotherapy last week, I hope to be reading “Crazy in Poughkeepsie” cancer free! Thanks for the wonderful diversion during it all. All the best, Doug.

Daniel replies:

Chronological disorder is an apt term. I suppose one could imagine Molly and other characters who seem to migrate among books as actors, contract players, who have roles in various productions. I'm happy mixing up time periods, introducing real and less read cultural items, and of course I have very little use for things like plot. As regards reality, I cannot think of a more satisfactory use for books of mine than providing diversion while heroically beating cancer. Bravo, Douglas! I am proud to have you read my stuff.


Lynne Roberts

Woogie Norple

April 26, 2022

Please reprint Woogie Norple – the current prices put this wonderful book out of the reach of most people.

Daniel replies:

Getting things reprinted is not something an author can just do...or do at all. The high prices for used copies must be because of illustrations by the great Tomie DePaola. Are there no color Xerox machines where you live? I won't say anything. If you have an ethical problem making a Xerox of a copyrighted work, tell yourself the author said it was ok, and buy some suitable book to donate to your local library.


Bert VanDercar

Thank you for your service

April 23, 2022

Dear Mr. Pinkwater

10 to 12 years ago I read my then small son all of your young adult novels that we could either buy or procure from our local library. My son Mason turned 20 years old yesterday and we were reminiscing about some of our happiest times and adventures together and we immediately thought of the rapture we experienced reading your books. I have started rereading Borgel which is where we began. Overall I had the most fun reading Alan Mendelsohn to my son Mason many years ago. To say that it was “thrilling“ is to offer faint praise. We even sent you a framed certificate “lifetime achievement award“ for that book which you told us would never have a follow up due to the sad realities of the publishing industry and the human condition in general. As a kid myself I spent summers in Hyde Park, New York with my sister across the street from the Roosevelt estate and if I had a time machine I would go back to 1964 when I was 12 years old and buy a pastrami sandwich and hand-deliver it to you in 2022. Instead I just placed an order for Crazy in Poughkeepsie which I hope will at least allow you to buy a few slices of pastrami somewhere nearby. Best wishes and many thanks!

Sincerely,

Bert Joseph VanDercar

Daniel replies:

There is nothing of unusual interest across the street from the Roosevelt estate. I was just in that area today, just houses and apartments. 40 years ago there was a man who would train a trotting horse pulling a sulky on a little patch of ground one could see from the road. No sign of man or horse these days. Possibly you know something about this from your summers in Hyde Park. Do you know if the Loma Linda brand offers a plant-based pastrami product?


Andy Z

Tips for snarking?

April 23, 2022

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I was so inspired by your Snarkout Boys novels that I decided to try it for myself. I woke at midnight and managed to exit the house without waking anyone. I set out looking for slam poetry or jazz but instead found only wind and snowdrifts (I live in rural Minnesota). After about 3 minutes of looking at the moon, I got too cold and came back inside. 

Overall I’d say it was a moderate success but I am hoping you could give me some advice to make next time even better.

Best wishes,

Andy

Daniel replies:

I think you were safer snarking where you snarked than you might be in an urban location. Things are different these days. I was a serious snarker, and never had any occasion to feel the least bit unsafe or uncomfortable, but that was then. I'm assuming you had suitable footwear and clothing for your mini-snark.


Ali Kramen

If I Only Have One Hour in Hoboken

April 8, 2022

Private message, please. Visiting NYC from Montana, and would like to visit Hoboken  (because of “Chicago Days Hoboken Nights”). Pressed for time, would you please tell me what tourist-type thing you’d do with only one hour in Hoboken? If it’s get bagels with you, I’ll buy. Party would include my 17-year-old twins, me,  and our Uber driver.  Thursday, April 7th, 2022 after 4 pm, Friday the 8th after 3 pm, or Saturday the 9th at the crack of dawn. PS There’s  no Captcha to prove I’m not a Spambot. Never mind, there is, and I ain’t.

Daniel replies:

I haven't lived in Hoboken since 1977 and I haven't even set foot in Hoboken since maybe 1981. I've looked at videos, and except for having seen them I wouldn't recognize much of the town. If I was in the NY metro area with only an hour to spend, I'd spend it in Manhattan at the Frick Collection, it's an art museum, probably the single best thing in the whole northeast.


Daniel Amberg

How tall are you? (for a small effigy I am making)

April 8, 2022

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

In brief, I am creating small wood effigies of my favorite authors. I would like them to be appropriately sized relative to one another. Toward this end, how tall are you? (Thus far it will just be you and David Sedaris.)

Now to the gushing, fawning part: I am 52 years old and grew up reading your novels. I raised three children on them as well. (Only one of the children wound up being a miscreant like his dad.) My absolute favorite might be Young Adult Novel. I’ve read and re-read Alan Mendelson, Yobgorgle and Lizard Music more times than I can possibly remember. You are a treasure, and I am deeply grateful for the absurdity, humor and subversion you wove into the fabric of my being! Thank you.

–Dan Scott Amberg, Chandler Arizona

Daniel replies:

Nice try. I know perfectly well that "effigies" won't work unless they're proportional. Not that I believe in this sort of thing, but just in case, I'm doing nothing that will help you get into my bank account through the use of some Afro/Caribbean traditional techniques.


Diane Keedy Pisko

Please bring back Wuggie

March 22, 2022

I love Wuggie.  My adult son loves Wuggie.  I think the next generation and all the generations moving forward need to know Wuggie.  Please please bring Wuggie back!!!!  The world needs him!! Very Sincerely,

Wuggie Lover

Daniel replies:

You imagine professional authors like me have any control or say about what gets published, republished, brought back. It's not so. Decisions like that are left to people in the publishing industry who are mostly paid very poorly, and mostly can't get jobs in better industries which pay more because they aren't worth it. There are copies of Wuggie Norple floating around. You can probably find them on Ebay and in other places. Shouldn't cost much. So, really it doesn't need bringing back. I'm glad you like the book!


Sjoekje Sasbone

Searching for “Lizard Music”

February 24, 2022

Please pass this on to Mr. Pinkwater:

     In 1980, I read your book when I was 8 yrs old at the Artesia Library in CA. I enjoyed it so much, I checked it out from the library a few times. But as I got older, I forgot the title & “Lizard People” always wrongly came to mind.   

     Technology got better & I still couldn’t find it. “Lizard Music” would come up, your name as the author sounded highly familiar, but the cover that popped up (a kid on rocks w/ lizards) didn’t look familiar. Nevertheless, your story lived rent free in my mind for decades.      

     Yesterday, I messaged the Artesia Library & although they don’t keep a copy of our old library cards, they said they could search for it if I gave them descriptives. This is what I recalled & messaged them: “It was about this boy who found his way to a pond or lake, & a lizard somehow convinced him to swim under & come out the other side into an alternate dimension w/ a plastic bag of clothes. I want to say the lizard in our world was able to speak. I’m not sure. Everyone was a lizard in this world, shopping, working, etc., like humans. He would go back a few times where the story would unfold. Maybe it was a red cover?” They led me back to “Lizard Music,” except they provided me with a YouTube narrating Ch. 1 & replied, “I just listened to the YouTube you sent me. That’s was great because I was able to hear that chapter. It was missing when he swam underwater to get to the other city. Perhaps that’s the floating island? I was trying to see if the wording in the story was familiar. It is an unsupervised boy. I’m sure the hippie references were over my head….. What was very familiar was the Salisbury steak reference, which is interesting.” But I listened to each chapter, found the red cover w/ the lizards, & this was it! Truth be told, I became emotional when it all came together. 

     When I looked you up, I noticed that your birthday is Nov. 15th, the same birthday as my father, who passed in 2016, 1 month shy of 92 yrs old. Long story longer, thanks for writing a fun, weird book that spawned my lifelong love for hidden worlds & left an impression for nearly 42 years. I’ll be 50 on July 15th.

     Finally, I want to acknowledge the librarian who not only helped me, but checked out the book for herself to read. I hope you enjoy knowing all of this & the your literary impact. 

Daniel replies:

Thanks for relating your mental adventures with Lizard Music. Books have a life of their own, something I never thought about when I was writing that one and others.  Also readers give books a specific life of their own...it's not just the author who does the creative part. Thanks for being such a good reader.


Philip Fairbanks

Mainly just thanks so much…

January 28, 2022

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

From the time I was in elementary school you became one of my favorite authors. Especially Lizard Music. There was something about that book that just opened the possibilities of other worlds hidden below the surface that people don’t see only because they aren’t looking. I used to regularly check that book out of my rural hometown library as a kid. In my 20s I checked it out a few times again. Found it interesting that (despite the shoddy marker job scratching out names) it was easy to tell that apparently I always chose August to read your book. Lol perhaps the proximity to Sirius amplifies the Lizard Music haha.

Anyway, just wanted to say that you were an incredible influence on me. I am a writer myself now, maybe not much of one, but passable to date. Mostly entertainment reporting, music reviews, news (esp. related to nat.sec corruption and the like) but I really feel some media I ingested as a child, definitely Lizard Music but also Pete and Pete helped germinate the seed of wonder and doubt about the world around me that led me to where I am today.

 

As I said, most of my work is non-fiction but I still love children’s and YA lit as much as ever and occasionally reread them hear as I’m nearing 40 this November. (Oh, always thought it was cool, our birthdays are a couple days apart). Anyway, for years I’ve wanted to drop a line but finally decided to try to track down your contact information.

 

Hope you’re doing well, that the covid/pandemic is bearable. I’m actually planning on releasing my first kid’s book (a sort of scifi story about a girl with very guarded, protective scientist parents who live on a rocket ship with their adventurous to a fault daughter). Anyway, I don’t want to waste too much of your time but had to send a word of thanks. I’ve literally spent hours reading your works off and on for phew 3 decades now lol?

 

Anyway, as I said, hope you’re doing well and thanks for the memories. I’m sure I’m just one of thousands, maybe millions of kids who, like me felt the same way but (also like me) were shy or didn’t know how to contact you. Hope you receive this letter in good health and spirits. Best of 2022!

Your dear fan since about the late 80s/early 90s. If you’re ever interested in doing an interview, would be honored, but if you don’t have the time or inclination completely understand as well.

 

Best of 2022!

Philip Fairbanks

Daniel replies:

Um....wow!


Dylan

Thank You

December 29, 2021

2003. Third grade. Nine years old. My class is instructed by our teacher to find a book to read for a book report. Problem is, I don’t like reading.

Enough time passes and everyone has a book except for me. My teacher is frustrated with my indecisiveness and pulls a random book from the shelf. I don’t like reading but whatever, there are lizards playing the saxophone on the front so that’s pretty cool.

What unfolds over the next week molded my taste in books. I was glued to it. I still remember little bits of the story, and I don’t have many memories of anything around that age. I don’t know what you call it, and I didn’t know how to describe it then, but I remember asking my teacher for more “weird books.” I say weird with the upmost respect, I was tired of hearing stories that stayed too close to reality.

At this point I think its safe to say you laid the ground work for my love for science fiction. You took nine year old me to another world. Something that I only thought was possible with video games at that time. One day when I have my own kids I will be picking up a copy to read them. Thank you for giving me a happy memory and stimulating my childhood imagination by sharing a piece of your own. Best wishes!

Daniel replies:

Well, that message put a smile on my face. Of course, I had no idea writing that book would do anyone any good. I was just amusing myself, and telling a story. That may be why you were able to enjoy it. A suggestion, look up some of the books I wrote decades after...I like to think I learned something about authoring. Try The Neddiad, for example, and there are some others.


Jackie Hertel

No question

November 23, 2021

Mr. Pinkwater,

I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful book Tooth-Gnasher Superflash. It was one of my favorite books growing up. My father read it to my siblings and me. My father has always been a larger man and his voice would go so high-pitched every time the five little Popsnorkles shouted, and we would all laugh. I was able to find a copy this week of the Tooth-Gnasher Superflash and watch my father read it to my two year old daughter. What joy you have brought to my family over the last 30 years. Thank you.

Jackie Hertel

 

Daniel replies:

You thank ME? Imagine how good it feels for a writer to receive a message like that? I thank YOU.


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