Just in time for Halloween and all the haunting activities which typically accompany it, I was thrilled to interview multiple Emmy-winning comic icon, and a personal fave, Carl Reiner, about his new hit book, Tell Me Another Scary Story…But Not Too Scary! Illustrations are by James Bennett and the book, ($16.95, ages 4-8) published by Dove, an imprint of Phoenix Books, is available in stores everywhere as well as online. Fans will love the fact that a bonus ‘read-along’ CD of the book is included so they can take Reiner reading his Scary Story on the road.
Q. Where did your idea for Tell Me Another Scary Story… come from as you certainly did not have a next door neighbor named Mr. Neewollah and how does it differ from your first Scary Story?
A. It came from the original Tell Me A Scary Story and it being a hit, and the publisher asking me for another Scary Story. In the second story, the boy becomes friends with the neighbor who one frightened him to death in the first story.
Q. The message in the story is an important one and so well conveyed. Do you think children today are less respectful, less thoughtful than when you were a child?
A. I think children have already reflected the mores of society and the disciplines that their parents instilled in them, and that has not changed.
Q. Has the media together with books actually helped make children of the 21st century more prepared for emergencies like the one in your story?
A. Yes, the media has prepared children. At the end of Tell Me Another Scary Story, the boy, faced with a man who obviously fainted, calls 911. Weeks before on TV, I had seen or heard or learned about a four year old who actually dialed 911 to get help for his mother, who had collapsed while driving.
Q. Is it harder or easier to write for children?
A. Equally. It is the same process. I get a good idea and develop it.
Q. I love how you tease the reader with your warnings about turning the page. To me that’s the fun part of a scary story and Halloween; all the frightful possibilities.
A. I’m very proud of the fact that I found in the first Scary Story the idea of warning the children that they have an option…that if they get scared, they have the option of not turning the page.
Q. Apart from the candy, what makes Halloween such an enduring holiday in our culture? I’m a sucker for Tootsie Rolls, what’s your treat of choice?
A. Dressing up. Kids always love to put on costumes and make believe they are somebody else, and this holiday makes it possible for them to live out their dreams… and get candy while doing so. I think Tootsie Rolls were everybody’s favorite, including mine.
Q. What is the best thing about writing for kids?
A. Hearing about how much they enjoyed reading and re-reading, and re-reading, and re-reading and re-reading the book you have written.
Q. Are people simply born funny?
A. I think people are born with a clean slate. If they are born where parents put a premium on laughter and expose children to television, movies and albums that are meant to make you laugh, they will appreciate and be honed by, this experience.
Q. Who are some other authors you admire?
A. Let’s start with Mark Twain, who was probably the greatest writer of all time, and then of course, we have Phillip Roth and Richard Dawkins, and Doctorow, etc. etc.
Q. Do you know what you’ll be writing next?
A. If that’s the last question, then nothing…oh yes, for next year, I have written Tell Me A Silly Story and Tell Me A Sillier Story, which I think may be my best works. We’ll see.