When I visit a school, I am often amazed at and amused by the questions children ask. Kids ask questions based on what is important to them, and their questions range from age to money, from children to pets. A few of their questions even hit on the topic of writing and reading. Librarians and teachers often caution children not to ask personal questions–but they do anyway. Some of the questions I’ve encountered over the 30+ years I’ve been visiting children in schools (and maybe a few answers) follow:
What genre do you enjoy writing most, fiction or nonfiction? (A: I’m partial to fiction, but I enjoy them both. I need fiction to allow my imagination to wander and to provide a change of pace from the research that my nonfiction requires. I love doing research and tracking down information, but every now and then I need to communicate with the puppies, bears, armadillos, and others that live inside my head. My head is a busy place.)
Where do you find your ideas? (A: Everywhere.)
How do you create tension in a story? (A: Make your main character’s life difficult. That is, give him or her a problem and make that character struggle to find a solution.)
I notice you’re not wearing a ring. Does that mean you’re not married?
Do you have any children and, if so, what is her name and is she cute?
Does somebody MAKE you write? (A: No, I actually enjoy it. Well, most of the time.)
Are you famous?
Are you rich?
After being cautioned by a teacher not to ask questions about money, a young man asked, “So, what’s it like living in a mansion?” Another asked (same audience): What kind of car do you drive? (A: I drive a Toyota. <noticing his disappointed look> Did you think I was going to say a Lamborghini?)
I am really interested in becoming a writer. What is the best way to go about getting published?
Do you know any famous people?
What is your favorite kind of book to read? (A: Mysteries.)
When you go to a restaurant, do people stop eating and stare at you?
Do you have to be a certain age to be a writer? (A: No.) Can a kid like me get published? (A: Yes.) How?
How old are you? (A: A quarter of a century times two, plus the set of…)