SBBT Interview: Adam Rex
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, the Summer Book Blog Tour is once again making rounds throughout the sphere of kid litos. You know what that means? That means I friggin’ get to interview whoever I want and who did I want this time around? Adam Rex, of course. You remember Adam, right? Author/illustrator type-guy? Did a little sumthin’ sumthin’ by the name of The True Meaning of Smekday? That guy. Well, using my best blackmailing skills I managed to wrangle him into an interview with relatively little blood loss. Here Adam discusses projects past and present,whether or not he really is my generation’s answer to the Mata Hari, and we see what happens when The Hulk fails to go electric.
Fuse #8: So. First and foremost, word on the street has it that Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is going to get a little baby brother soon. What can we expect from everyone’s favorite green guy?
Adam Rex: About the moment I turned in the last art for Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich I started bugging Harcourt to let me do a second book, which at the time I was convinced would be called Frankenstein Makes a Sequel. They eventually talked me down from that ledge, and the book will now be titled Frankenstein Takes the Cake, and be out this September. The big news is that Frankenstein is getting married, and anyone who’s been through a wedding knows it takes a full quarter of a picture book to plan properly, so there are a number of nuptially-themed poems. They have to find a caterer who can deal with all the different monsters’ food allergies and dietary restrictions, for example. Frankenstein has to meet his future in-laws, the Bride has to tell them she’s not entirely dead anymore. That sort of thing.
There are also poems about Dracula Jr. and Medusa and the Sphinx and aliens and a number of excerpts from the Headless Horseman’s blog, and more! All your favorite monsters in one volume. How much would you pay for a collection like this? One hundred dollars? No, it’s only sixteen.
Fuse #8: (The Headlesss Horseman’s blog?) Now your first novel The True Meaning of Smekday has, to my mind, disproven the commonly held publishing wisdom that children’s science fiction doesn’t sell. Kudos to you, sir! Now, the real question: Are we going to see more of J. Lo? I want a J. Lo book. Oh! Or a J. Lo graphic novel. Will we see any more of his many-legged self?
Adam Rex: I think there’s a good chance we’ll eventually see more of J.Lo in some format, but I can’t say for certain what that’s going to be yet. Probably all I can say for now is that I’m working on a short story that’s set after the invasion, that I would like to include in the paperback edition of Smekday. But first I have to finish it, and it has to be good enough to bother, so we’ll see.
Fuse #8: Let’s count it off. Poetry? Check. Picture books? Check. Novel? Check. That leaves non-fiction on the list. Any interest?
Adam Rex: Yes, actually. More so since reading Kadir Nelson’s We Are the Ship. I don’t know what my subject would be, though, and unfortunately I’m not real bright. I do have a great interest in entirely made-up nonfiction. Does that count?
Fuse #8: Sure. We have no standards here. On a different note you visited the Central Children’s Room once and gave me a chance to take a peek at your sketchbook. This was simultaneously thrilling and frightening. Thrilling because your art is, at all times, really jaw-droppingly splendid. Frightening because as far as I can tell, when you draw something you draw it PERFECTLY the first time. What’s your general technique in these cases?
Adam Rex: I must have shown you some sort of ringer sketchbook that only had the good stuff in it. During school visits I like to show kids this page from an old sketchbook.
It’s from 2004, and shows a few early attempts to nail down my version of Frankenstein, not to mention a few Kerrys and a Bush, as I was watching a Presidential debate on TV while sketching. I think these are pretty lousy Frankensteins, and barely adequate Presidential candidates.
Having said that, I probably do a lot more preliminary sketching in my head than I used to, so some of my worst compositions never make it onto paper.
Fuse #8: One of your earlier jobs was doing cards for Magic the Gathering. Do you still do these on the sly?
Adam Rex: I did as recently as last year, but I think I’m through with those now. I just don’t have the time anymore. But I guess that means that I’ve painted some Magic cards that still haven’t been released. Wizards of the Coast (the Magic and D&D company) was a good client, and paid nearly all my bills when I was still looking for my big break into kids’ lit, so I have a soft spot for them, and have tried to fit in a job with them here and there. But now I’m behind on all my books, and would have a hard time explaining to my editors why I’d set work aside for a few days so I could paint a 3/3 Black/Green Artifact Creature with Trample.
Fuse #8: Last one. The picture of you on your blog . . . . are you a superspy?
Adam Rex: Oh, that’s just great. "Are you a superspy." What kind of question is…this whole interview was just a set-up so you could Valerie Plame me, right? Who sent you, the ALA? I swear, you shoot one librarian in the back and they never…and we were this close to getting the goods on Ambassador Scieszka. This close. I have an agent in bed with him this very second. Literally in bed with him. Will you excuse me a moment?
Malk? This is Scarecrow. We’ve been made. No, I @#%$ you not. I need everyone to back off of Mayor McCheese, we are getting out of Trucktown. I repeat: WE ARE GETTING OUT OF TRUCKTOWN.
The official transcript after this point has been lost.
Adam Rex is still at large.
For interviews with remarkably fabulous people who may or may not also be spies, do be so good as to check out the following blogs:
David Almond at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
R.L. LaFevers at Finding Wonderland
Dave Schwartz at Shaken & Stirred
Elizabeth Scott at bookshelves of doom
Laurie Halse Anderson at Writing & Ruminating
And for the full schedule, I refer you (of course) to the most organized of women Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray. If anyone is working for a secret government agency, Mondor’s organizational skills place make her a definitive target.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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