Interview with Dav Pilkey
What is your favorite book?
I have lots of favorite books. Some of them are: the George and Martha books by James Marshall; the Stupids books and the Miss Nelson books by Harry Allard and James Marshall; the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel; Jake and Honeybunch go to Heaven by Margot Zemach; Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss; and The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell.
How do you get the ideas for your books?
I never try to “think” up a story, stories just come to me. I live a very simple life, and often spend several hours each day just daydreaming. It is usually during these times that my ideas come to me.
How did you get your start writing and illustrating books?
When I was 19 years old, I wrote a book called World War Won and entered it in Landmark Editions’ National Written and Illustrated by… Awards Contest for Students. My book won first prize for my age group, and was published.
Who are your major influences as an artist?
The painters who have influenced me most as an artist are Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, and Marc Chagall. Of all these artists, I think Marc Chagall is my favorite. I love the way he sees things… there are no straight lines in his world, and no gravity to speak of either. All the laws of physics go out the window! It’s very liberating as a painter to have a hero who didn’t follow the rules.
How long does it take you to make a book?
It depends on the book. When Cats Dream and The Paperboy each took 15 minutes to write. ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving took almost a whole year (partially due to the fact that the first draft was eaten by a herd of cows). Rhyming books usually take much more time to write than non-rhyming books. Most of my picture books take between 1 and 3 months to illustrate.
What comes first, the pictures or the stories?
Usually the title, then the story, then the pictures.
Who is your favorite Author and illustrator?
I have many favorites. They include James Marshall, Arnold Lobel, and Dr. Seuss. I’m also a big fan of my friends Audrey and Don Wood, and Pam Muñoz Ryan.