Interview with Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, Authors of “Ghost Buddy”

Remember the Ghost Buddy book review I shared a few months ago? After submitting my review, I was entered into a contest for a chance to win an exclusive interview with the authors, Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. I was the lucky winner!  I asked my friends, family, and YOU-my readers- what they’d want to ask, and here’s what we all came up with.  A HUGE thank you to Mr. Winkler and Ms. Oliver for taking the time to answer these questions!

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  • How did you two meet, and what made you decide to write a book together?
We met at the suggestion of a wonderful man named Alan Berger.  Henry was having a lull in his acting career, and Alan, who is a manager, suggested he write a children’s book about his dyslexia.  Alan Berger happened to be the father of Lin’s son’s best friend, so he introduced us and suggested we write together, as Lin had spent much of her career writing for kids and families—both books, films and television.   A wonderful partnership was born.  At our first lunch together, Henry told Lin the story of how he grew up with undiagnosed learning challenges and always felt that he was stupid.  Lin felt his struggle and knew that so many children share that same experience and that we needed to tell this story to the world.  It was a very lucky lunch, because we’ve now written 23 books together and still going strong and happily!
  • What made you decide to take up writing, and why children’s books?
We both share a concern for and love of children.  We had a lot to say to kids about friendship, individuality, empathy, and how we treat one another as humans.  We both love to be funny.  So we wanted to combine our basic message—which is that each person has special, unique gifts and should offer them up to the world by whatever path suits them best—with humor and heart.  Writing for children was a natural for each of us.
  • I’m aware that the Hank Zipzer series was based on Mr. Winkler’s struggles with dyslexia; where do you find your inspiration for Ghost Buddy?
We knew that we wanted to write a new series about friendship, not only because we are good friends, but because we understand how important friends are in a child’s life.  We wanted to write about kids who complement each other…one who is a little shy and feels ordinary, and one who is a little over-confident and somewhat irresponsible.   We felt that they could learn from each other and that their friendship would make each a better person.  The Hoove has some similarities to The Fonz, the character Henry played on Happy Days, and Billy Broccoli has some similarities to Richie, from the same show.  We love the idea of a friendship between opposites.  They attract, you know.  We decided to make The Hoove a ghost because it’s a lot of fun to write a person who has special powers!
  • What was your favorite book when you were a child? Your favorite to read to your own children when they were little?
LIN:  My favorite books as a child were the Wizard of Oz books, and the Little House on the Prairie books.  I loved them, and can remember the sheer pleasure of snuggling up in my bed and reading with a flashlight.  When my own children were little, we read all the time, every single night.  We read the classics out loud, like Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn.  We read the poems of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky.  We read the best picture books like Goodnight, Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Where the Wild Things Are and Tikki Tikki Tembo, and read them over and over until we could all recite them together.  It was just the best experience ever! 
HENRY:  I did not have a favorite book when I was growing up, because reading was so difficult.  I actually read my first novel in my late twenties and that was The Clan of the Cave Bear.  When my children were little, my wife Stacey would read the text and I participated each night by acting out the story.
  • What are your favorite things to do with your family?
HENRY:  We travel well together.  We play on the grass with the grandchildren.  We love having family meals, the greatest of all of them being Thanksgiving and Passover.  When the children were younger and actually had time for me, going to the movies and experiencing movies through their eyes was a favorite thing.
LIN:  We travel all over together…we’ve been to Mongolia, Vietnam, France, Ireland, England and Africa.  We play a lot of sports together, tennis and paddle tennis especially.  We love to cook and eat together.  Two of my three sons are great chefs.  The third one likes to eat.  Now we have a brand new baby grandchild, so we spend a lot of time hunched over her, trying to make her laugh.  And you don’t want to be around when we’re playing Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit—it gets pretty loud and competitive!
  • What is something you want people to know about you that most do not?
HENRY:  When it comes to eating, I am a good eater except I won’t eat green, yellow or red peppers or anything cabbage-y. 
LIN:  I love being in the company of other writers.  I stay up really really late and if I could, I would sleep really really late.  I am grumpy in the morning.  My favorite meal is a midnight snack.  I think that maybe I was supposed to be an owl, because I am entirely nocturnal.   
  • Will the Ghost Buddy books be made into movies? (My kids have made this request, especially after seeing the YouTube trailer!)
We have no plans at this time, but we do light incense every day in the hopes that the books will move to the big screen.  We think they would make a very funny and adventuresome movie or television series.
  • Do you have plans for another series of books in the future?  Any teasers you want to share?

We love writing books together and as a matter of fact, we just completed the third book in the GHOST BUDDY series called HOW TO SCARE THE PANTS OFF YOUR PET, in which Billy tries to teach the Hoove to be responsible by getting him a series of pets to take care of, ranging from a Siamese fighting fish to a goat.  Things get pretty crazy with all the weird pets reacting to a ghost.  The fourth GHOST BUDDY is called NEVER DANCE WITH A HAIRY BUFFALO, and we’re writing that right now.   Can you hear us laughing?  That’s because it’s so funny! 

Comments

  1. That is so exciting! How awesome to have been picked. I love love him!

  2. Melissa Ruth says:

    What a great opportunity!! I loved him on Happy Days and the Waterboy and now on Royal Pains. Now I'll have to get into his kids books.

  3. What a great interview! My oldest son struggled with reading, but Henry Winkler's Hank Zipzer series really got him involved. Now my youngest son is reading this newest series!

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