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What got you interested in writing books for kids?
My wife and I have three kids. We also have a house full of children's books. So I guess it was all that time spent reading books—and enjoying them as much as my kids—that got me interested in writing and illustrating some of my own.

Of course, I didn't know the first thing about how to write books. So I checked out everything our local libraries had on the subject. I bought an armful of books about becoming an author. I also found lots of helpful information on the Internet. It all helped, but I'm always learning more.

What inspired you to write Joe Sherlock?
My wife, Christine, and my agent, Linda, kept telling me I should try writing a chapter book. I had only written picture book manuscripts before I sat down to try and write a chapter book.

As I was trying to think of a story that would make a good chapter book, the name Joe Sherlock popped into my head—ideas are just like that sometimes!

When I was a kid, Joe Sherlock was something my brothers would call each other when one of us figured out something really obvious, as in "Nice going, Joe Sherlock." Plus, I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes movies and I was renting lots of movies about him at the time. So I thought it might be fun to write about a kid who learns about solving mysteries by watching tons of Sherlock Holmes movies. But unlike Sherlock Holmes, Joe Sherlock has many obstacles to overcome.

Who did you base Joe Sherlock on? Is he really you?
He's not really based on anyone. I guess you could say he's a reflection of me, but only certain aspects of me. For example, I love to watch movies about Sherlock Holmes and I hate beef stew, but I'm not allergic to peanut butter and I don't have any sisters.

Where do you get your ideas from?
When you write stories, ideas come floating into your head from all over the place. Sometimes things in my own life provide good material for the stories I'm writing. Sometimes it's things that interested me when I was a kid. Often I get ideas from funny things that my kids say or do. Sometimes ideas come from books, magazines, newspapers, or movies. The best ideas seem to come from just watching what's going on around you. Now my wife and I are always saying to each other, "Hey, that's a good idea for a book." I think great ideas are all around us, but you have to train yourself to start looking for them. You just need to turn on your idea radar.

Why is Joe Sherlock's best friend, Lance, so lazy?
I think Lance's character is a way for me to poke fun at a lot of kids today who'd rather stay inside and play video games, watch TV, or surf the Internet than experience an adventure for themselves. I live on a street like Joe Sherlock's Baker Street, and on some Saturday afternoons there's not a kid in sight. That was unheard of when I was young.

Who taught you to draw? Did you go to art school?
No. I never went to art school or had an art class, but I could probably use some lessons! A lot of the things I do I learned by trial and error, which means making lots of mistakes.

I taught myself how to draw just by doing it so much. I always loved to draw. When I was in the first and second grade I liked to draw giant monsters attacking cities and huge battle scenes with tanks and planes and giant robots. I also enjoyed drawing dinosaurs eating people and stepping on cars! (I think I watched too many monster movies.) I guess I haven't stopped drawing since the first grade. In fact, the whole time I was in school, I was usually the kid in the back of the class scribbling away inside his notebook. I guess that was my art school. Of course, it didn't exactly help my grades.

What do you like to do more, draw or write?
Those two things are very different. Both are fun and challenging, but I think they use different parts of my brain.

Drawing is more like a craft, something that you're creating in the real world—it's about making pencil, pen and paint do what you want on a sheet of paper. Writing is more about living in the world of imagination and seeing things in your head, like daydreaming. It's more about finding the right words to show what's going on in my head.

I'm grateful that I get a chance to do both and get paid for it! And I think it's important to always try to improve both of those skills, so I spend lots of time practicing and trying to improve them.

Why does Joe Sherlock have so many problems?
Well, I think everyone has problems and challenges and difficulties, but successful people figure out how to get around or over them.

In the movies, Sherlock Holmes is like a walking, talking computer of knowledge and logic. He's never distracted by family, homework, an upset stomach, or self-doubt. Giving Joe Sherlock so many problems to overcome provides conflict, which is the rocket fuel of humor. It gives me lots of opportunities for funny stuff to happen. Plus, it enables me to show him solving problems with focus, enthusiasm, and simple determination. Despite his problems with carsickness, irritating sisters, a sensitive stomach, a fear of ants and dogs, etc., Joe Sherlock manages to keep his eye on the ball and get the job done. That, to me, is more what real life is like—and there's nothing funnier than real life.

What books did you like to read when you were a kid?
When I was a kid I read mostly comic books. My favorites were Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Batman. I really liked the combination of words and images that you find in comic books. I guess my favorite "children's book" was one I read in the third grade called "The Iron Giant, A Story in Five Nights" by Ted Hughes. It was published in 1968. It had these great, scratchy drawings by Robert Nadler. I've been interested in robots every since I read that book.

But when I think back to my childhood I don't remember reading as much as I remember goofing off. I had six brothers, so there was always something wacky going on. I put on haunted houses and puppet shows. We built forts in the backyard and tent cities in the family room. We had sock fights and spit ball wars. We played board games, cards, and hide and seek. I spent a lot of time playing touch football in the street, pickle in the front yard, and strike-out in the backyard.

It wasn't until I was in college that I went totally ga-ga over books. And I really went nuts. I read every book I could get my hands on. In some ways, I still feel like I'm still playing catch up in the book department. But I wouldn't trade all those days of goofing off for anything in the world.

Send your question to Dave, and, if he can, he'll answer it. And he might even put your question in this section for all the world to see.