It is always a pleasure to work with Macmillan Children's Publishers and when I was offered a chance to participate in The 39-Story Treehouse Blog Tour, I jumped at the chance. It is my pleasure to welcome author, Andy Griffiths to Kid Lit Frenzy.
The 13-Story Treehouse and the sequel The 26-Story House are filled with incredible imagination -what kind of kid were you that led to creating this series for children?
I had a very happy childhood full of great books (like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Dr. Seuss and the works of Enid Blyton), great TV shows (like Batman, Get Smart and I Dream of Jeannie), great comedy (like MAD magazine and ridiculously over the top Horror comics), a lot of free time and a lot of freedom to roam and explore our neighborhood and have adventures in the nearby Pine Forest and creek. I’ve always loved the sense of unlimited freedom that I gained from all these activities and have sought to replicate that exhilarating sense of possibility in the books that I write with Terry.
What is your collaborative process like with Terry?
It usually starts with me suggesting an idea, him drawing it, me getting excited and writing some words to go with it, him drawing some more pictures etc. etc. All this is done in a spirit of great mischief and playfulness and is accompanied by much laughter. We can’t possibly tell where it’s all going … we just follow an idea to see where it takes us. Usually we end up with a huge mess of ideas which Jill—my wife and editor—then spends many weeks editing and structuring into something that starts resembling a narrative. Then Terry storyboards that and the whole process starts over again.
I haven't figured out an answer to this personally, but do you think there can be "too much humor" in a book and if so, how do you find the right balance for your stories?
I don’t think you can have “too much humor” in a book (both kids and adults LOVE to laugh and the harder the better) but I think you can possibly have too much of the same sort of humor in a book. Over many years Terry and I have had the opportunity to explore many different types of humor (character-based, slapstick, gross-out and completely absurd) and varied ways of presenting it in various combinations of prose, rhyme and graphic form. I think the Treehouse series is a perfect mix of all these styles, with no one particular form dominating, which means it’s accessible to a very wide audience.
If you can go on a real life adventure - no financial limitations but all things have to be actually possible and no magic is involved - what would that adventure look like (it can be based on a real adventure that you have been on)?
It would definitely involve a rocket trip into space and, on our return, the rocket would re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and plunge right down to the bottom of the sea to see all those kind-of-creepy but fascinating deep sea fish that glow in the dark.
I noticed on your website that you have 2 daughters. Have your daughters inherited your sense of fun and imagination and if so, have they ever topped you with something that they have come up with or done?
Oh, constantly! My oldest daughter makes these very funny photo frames decorated with little plastic figures like babies and kittens and flowers and army men and hippopotami. And my youngest daughter is a very keen observer and is always happy to share her observations of Jill and my epic-fails with us!
What is your writing space like?
I have a studio that is filled with hundreds of bizarre plastic toys ranging from dinosaurs to zombie horse heads to rubber ducks with flaming wings as well as a vast collection of favorite books and comics. I also have lots of music. All of these things are still as exciting to me now as when I was young and they always put me in the mood for writing.
What has been your favorite question/letter from a fan?
Many children have written to me over the years wondering whether Terry and I are friends in real life, in spite of the (often violent) things we do to each other in our books. I began to realize that we could construct a whole book about our fictional lives together … which is how The Treehouse series began! (And, yes, we are friends in real life and would NEVER hit each other with giant bananas … well, not very often, anyway.)
About the author:
Andy Griffiths is one of Australia's most popular children's authors. Andy is best known for The Treehouse series, the JUST! books and The Day My Bum Went Psycho. Over the last 20 years Andy's books have been New York Times bestsellers, adapted for the stage and television and won more than 50 Australian children's choice awards. Andy, a passionate advocate for literacy, is an ambassador for The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and The Pyjama Foundation.
Check out The 13-Story Treehouse and 26-Story Treehouse, and don't forget to pick up a copy of The 39-Story Treehouse tomorrow at your local indie bookstore.