I have never before had the opportunity to interview a friend’s fictional character. But the great Kathy Erskine (yes the very one who won a teeny-tiny little honor called the National Book Award for her middle-grade novel MOCKINGBIRD), offered to introduce me to Mike. Mike of THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE, her brand-spanking new novel, which officially hits shelves in June but is already starting to pop up here and there.
Hi, Mike. Thanks for stopping by. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Um, I’m fourteen. My dad’s teaching in Romania this summer. He’s a math professor, a genius.
Are you good at math too?
No, I suck at math. That’s why I’m here in Do over, PA (okay, it’s Donover, but the sign is missing the “n”). Dad sent me to live with “close relatives” I’ve never actually met so I can spend the summer working on a math project.
Are you having fun?
I understand you made friends with a homeless man named Past. How did that happen?
I was lost, I asked him for directions, he gave me some food (not very good food), one thing led to another, and pretty soon I was sitting in his office — that’s a park bench, by the way — telling him my life story.
What drew you to him?
He’s a good listener. He’s smart. He knows a lot of people. He knows how to get things done. And he’s got a sense of humor — just don’t joke about food.
What about him annoys you?
He’s hung up on healthy eating. That would be okay except he doesn’t even let ME eat anything unhealthy! The dude worries about people he’s never met — like my dad — and wants me to get after him to eat healthy. Sometimes, you know, you just want some Snickerdoodles. Or Pringles. Or a steak. Or all of the above.
Was there anything that surprised you about him?
Yeah. He has a cell phone. I thought that was pretty cool.
What’s his weakness?
He loves these life-sized stuffed dolls that are dressed to look like people. It’s a Pennsylvania thing. I didn’t know what they were until I got here, either.
Why do you think he’s homeless?
Oh, there’s a good reason for that, but I don’t think I can tell you.
Because then you wouldn’t have to read the book. And it’s worth it. Really. Moo is a trip. Poppy is . . . well, Poppy. Gladys is hot. The three stooges are pretty funny — the whole town is like one giant LOL.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I better get going — I’m working on an adoption and I’m running out of time.
What kind of adoption?
Oh, right, I have to read the book.
As Moo would say, “You’re brilliant, kiddo!”
The main thing you should know about Kathy Erskine is she’s awfully nice. She lives in Virginia with her family. Kathy is also the author of QUAKING and MOCKINGBIRD. You can learn more about Kathy, her books, and upcoming events by visiting her website.
Thanks for the Mike loaner!