Describe a typical work day.
I’m a meditator (I’ve been doing TM for over 28 years), so I start every day with a morning meditation. Then every other day I go out and jog — nothing fast or competitive — I just plod along and it clears my head and gets me ready to write. I’ll generally work for an hour or two on writing, sometimes longer if I’m really on a roll.
What motivates you?
Seeing other people’s great work really gets me going. When I see a great film or a great piece of writing, I want to do the same thing – not the same work, of course, but something that’s as inspiring. I have that Renaissance notion that art should inspire and uplift; it shouldn’t avoid the serious problems we all face, but it shouldn’t wallow in them either.
I suppose, too, I’m motivated by money and a desire for a certain amount of fame. Writer fame is good; people can admire your work and not even know when they’re standing next to you at the supermarket.
What advice can you offer the 'newbie' children's writer?
Read. I’m convinced that I learned to write by reading. When I was starting in as a writer, I was imitating those writers I admired. After a while, though, and after studying a lot of different authors, my own voice started to develop.
Do you write any other genre?
Daniel Hayes: I write what I want to and don’t worry too much about genre. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’ve written mystery or humor, and I guess it doesn’t matter. When The Trouble with Lemons was coming out, a reviewer for the New York Times who was doing an article on YA mysteries wanted us to send her a copy of it, and we never did. I was afraid that since it hadn’t been written as a mystery, she might slam it. Afterwards, we learned that most reviewers seemed to think it functioned fine as a mystery.
Tell us a little about your book the Eye of the Beholder?
Eye of the Beholder was based on a true story. When I finished The Trouble with Lemons, I was looking for an idea for a second book. One Sunday I was reading the magazine section of the newspaper and saw a story about these Italian college students who made a few phony Modigliani sculptures as a joke during a Modigliani centennial celebration, and these sculptures were pronounced by Modigilani scholars to be authentic beyond any shadow of a doubt. And they did this with such pomposity, saying things like, “Only an artist on the level of Modigliani could breathe a soul into a stone.”