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Interview: March 16, 2016

Patrick Carman is the award-winning author of many books for young adults and children. His latest book, FIZZOPOLIS: The Trouble with Fuzzwonker Fizz, introduces the start of a new series set in a wacky town called Fizzopolis, home to the world's greatest soda pop, Fuzzwonker Fizz, and the Fizzies, a group of zany creatures who cause mischief whenever possible. In this book, the secret family recipe for Fuzzwonker Fizz is on the line, so Harold Fuzzwonker must bring his fizzy friend, Floyd, along to save the family from the evil Snood Candy factory. Here, Patrick answers questions from’s Margret Wiggins, including what inspired him to write FIZZOPOLIS, his favorite fizzy creation and his favorite books and magical worlds growing up. What inspired you to write FIZZOPOLIS?

Patrick Carman: There were two things I thought of almost simultaneously when the inspiration for FIZZOPOLIS came together. The first was how much fun it would be if your best friend was a little green creature who lived in your backpack. How great would that be?! And right after that I had the second thought: the main character would write a journal and keep it in his backpack, and his little green buddy would get bored and draw all over it. That’s where all the images in the book would come from. I got very excited about this format for a book, and the big adventures these two characters Would have

KRC: If you were Dr. Fuzzwonker, what food would you invent?

PC: I secretly wish Fuzzwonker Fizz actually existed. A soda pop that creates the longest, biggest burps in the world? Sign me up! I’d also make doughnut French fries, the ultimate sweet / salty combo.

KRC: How was the writing process different than your other books?

PC: I’ve never written a book with so many illustrations. It’s almost like a graphic novel, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I knew Brian Sheesley (the illustrator) was great at drawing hilarious stuff, so when I wrote the words I was always thinking "Write things that would be visually funny." So I spent a lot of time describing silly things in the story and imagining what Brian would draw. The other difference was working with Brian to choose what to draw and where to put the drawings on each page. That part was a blast --- we laughed a lot as we talked about all the drawings that would be in the book.

KRC: Would you want a Fizzy as a pet? If so, which one?

PC: I would love one! Who wouldn’t? There’s a Fizzy that shows up in the second book named Grabstack. He’s really small, like the size of a cockroach, but he acts like he’s in charge. Grabstack also likes to put on plays, which he directs. I’d be in a Grabstack play for sure, if only I had the talent.

KRC: How did you collaborate with Brian Sheesley on the illustrations?

PC: Brian is great to work with --- very funny and collaborative. I wrote the book first, then we sat down at a restaurant and walked through the whole thing together. Nothing was off limits --- we threw out the craziest ideas --- and we laughed way too loud. Brian and I have the same sense of humor, so we landed on the same ideas for just about everything. It was such a great experience seeing the words come to life with Brian’s drawings. They make the book even funnier and more fun to read.

KRC: Did you keep a journal like Harold when you were a kid?

PC: I did! But I rarely wrote a lot of pages of words. I mostly drew pictures and word bubbles, probably because I loved comic books.

KRC: All the Fizzies are so hilarious! Was there one fizzy, or perhaps a wacky invention, that was the most fun to create?

PC: I had more fun creating Floyd than any other Fizzy. Floyd is the Fizzy that lives in Harold’s backpack, so I spent the most time with him. I love how zany he is and how much trouble he causes for Harold. I can’t tell you how many times I thought: How could Floyd complicate this situation? Floyd’s antics drive a lot of the action, so it was fun to have him go bananas and then figure out how Harold rights the ship.

KRC: What advice would you give to a kid like Harold?

PC: Keep doing what you’re doing! Childhood won’t last forever. One of these days you’ll have to grow up. But not today!

KRC: What do you think is the coolest part of the underground world of Fizzopolis?

PC: Fizzopolis is a place where creativity runs amok. That’s the coolest thing about it. Whether it’s Fizzy’s doing all the strange things they do or Dr. Fuzzwonker creating weird new things for kids to eat, Fizzopolis is always about unleashing your imagination.  

KRC: What were some of your favorite authors or books growing up?

PC: I fell head over heels for Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and Maurice Sendak. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, Narnia --- those are the worlds of my childhood. I still love them all.

KRC: What are you working on now? And what can you share about it?

PC: I’m working on FIZZOPOLIS II and III! Which means lots of laughing and smiling at my desk. It’s a pure joy working on this series. I think kids will feel that when they read FIZZOPOLIS. I’m having as much fun writing these books as kids will have reading them. Winning!