Hi, my name is Tula. I come from Planet Wump. I'm a 12 year old environmental lawyer. I go around the universe protecting the natural beauty on other planets. I also have a blog. Today I'm interviewing MG author, James Mihaley.
So tell me, James, when did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was walking in the woods one day and a giant pen landed on my head. It was about the size of a baseball bat. I took that as a sign.
What challenges do you face in the writing process, and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is not to get distracted by ESPN or Facebook or Twitter or You Tube or text messages. The key is to stay focused. I wrote a poem about it.
How Artists Ripen
Discipline isn’t any fun,
but oh, my friend,
it’s brighter than the sun.
As a young person, who did you look up to most?
I looked up to dogs and cats. They never get divorced. Isn’t that amazing? There is no such thing as child custody in the animal world. (I mean kitten or puppy custody.) You never hear a female cat say to a male cat, “You get him on the weekends. The rest of the week he’s with me.”
Where do you write your books?
At the bottom of the sea. My sailing vessel is called ‘The Submarine Of Literary Miracles’. Poems by Shel Silverstein are painted on its side. It runs on recycled plastic. I go around cleaning the bottom of the sea and writing at the same time. It makes me feel very productive.
What was your favorite thing about school?
The trap door in the cafeteria leading to another galaxy.
What was your least favorite thing about school?
The pencil sharpener that would follow me through the trap door and chase me across other planets. I don’t like pencils. I prefer pens. The pencil sharpener felt insulted by this. It wanted to grind my fingers and toes. But eventually I made peace with it. I introduced it to a female pencil sharpener. They got married and had baby pencil sharpeners. I was the best man at the wedding.
What sparked your imagination for You Can’t Have My Planet, But Take My Brother Please?
I was out walking one day in LA. People don’t walk in LA, so you feel really strange. People in cars stare at you like you’re a freak. “Look. He’s walking. What’s wrong with that guy?” Cops will actually stop you. “Excuse me, sir. Why are you walking?” I tell them it’s because I’m a writer and I get my best thinking done when I’m out walking. Then the cops apologize and wish me good luck. So anyway, I was strolling along, seeing all the trash on the streets and the smog in the sky, when suddenly an idea popped into my head. What if it turned out that we humans were merely renting Earth? And what if we were about to get evicted because we’re such lousy tenants? I pictured a sleazy alien realtor planting a For Sale sign on our planet. All that stuff suddenly appeared in my imagination and it wouldn’t leave me alone. “Please tell our story!” it said. “Please!”
So I told it.
What is your favorite planet?
Earth. I’ve been on 2,356 different planets and I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Earth is the most magnificent. Roses on other planets don’t bloom like ours do. Birds in distant galaxies don’t soar as gracefully as ours do. Tigers in other universes aren’t nearly as majestic. Also, they have a tendency to smell.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional basketball player on another planet. I wanted to play hoops with no gravity and do a reverse ‘in your face’ tomahawk dunk on a three headed center. I dreamt about being a superstar in a galaxy that had popcorn machine robots. The popcorn popper is right there inside them! I wanted to play ball in an arena where alien trolls lurked under the bleachers, and I’d have to go rescue the cheerleaders at halftime.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
THE BFG. How can you not love a giant who practices non-violence?
What would you do if you couldn’t write?
I would leak words. Words would leak out of my soul while I stood in line at the supermarket. I’d leave puddles of words everywhere I went.