Scholastic Kids interviewed author Dav Pilkey. Here's what they found out:
What's your favorite book that you have written?
I have lots of favorite books that I have written. It changes depending on my mood. If I had to choose an all-time favorite, it would have to be The Adventures of Captain Underpants. It's the one book of mine that I've actually read the most (at least 15 times) and it still makes me laugh. I think my funny books are my favorites because I like to laugh so much.
Where do you get ideas for your characters?
I think every character I've ever come up with has been based on someone or something I've known. The principal in The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Mr. Krupp, was based on two different principals I had as a kid. They were really mean and they hated me!
How did you get the idea for Captain Underpants?
I got the idea when I was a second grader at St. John's Lutheran School in Elyria, Ohio. My teacher used the word "underpants" in class one day and everyone started laughing. She got mad and told us that underwear was not funny. We all laughed harder. Usually, when the class cracked up, it was because of something I had said or done. But our teacher had never made everybody laugh so hard before. I realized then that the word "underpants" was a very funny word. On the school bus home that day, I was making up a story about underwear and some younger kids in the seat behind me were laughing so hard, they almost fell on the floor. The next day, while sitting in the hallway I spent lots of time in the hallway because I often misbehaved in class I invented a superhero named Captain Underpants.
Which character is your favorite?
George and Harold are probably my favorite characters. I used to get in trouble all the time just like they do. I guess I just have a soft spot for them because we have so much in common.
How did you get the idea for the "hypno ring" in Captain Underpants?
I got the idea from those silly ads in the back of kids comic books and magazines. When I was a kid, I always used to send away for "Monster Ghosts," which obeyed your every command (only $2.99) and "X-Ray Glasses," which allowed you to see through walls (only $1.95). The ads were always a rip-off. Either the stuff never arrived in the mail or it didn't work. I thought it would be funny if George and Harold sent away for one of those silly items, and it actually did work.
What inspired you to become an author?
My freshman English professor at Kent State University in 1984 told me I was a good writer, and she loved all the silly pictures I drew in my notebook. She said I should try writing children's books, and so I did.
What is it like to be an author?
Being an author is fun. It's a great job, because I can stay up as late as I want, and if I feel like taking the day off, I do it. Plus, I get to make up silly stories and draw pictures all day. (I used to do that in school, and I got in trouble for it now I get paid for it!) The hard part is that I have to create stories that never existed before. I have to pull them out of thin air, and that can be a little scary sometimes. What if I never think of another story? What if I forget how to write? What if I get writer's block? So I guess being an author is both fun and scary. But I think the fun part far outweighs the scary part.
Why did you take off the letter "e" in Dave?
I took the "e" off my name when I was in high school. I used to be a waiter at Pizza Hut. One day they made a nametag for me, but the label maker was broken. For some reason, it wouldn't print out the letter "e." So my nametag just read "Dav." I've spelled it that way ever since.