Michael Fry is the author of Ghosted, a new middle grade novel for kids. He is the author of the Jimmy Paterson Presents How to Be a Supervillain series, and the co-creator of the Over the Hedge comic strip. He lives near Austin, Texas.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Ghosted?
A: Ghosted was a work for hire for me. HMH had the basic idea of Grimm and Larry with Grimm dying and coming back as a ghost. They also had the idea of the To-Do List. I did the rest. The story, the tone, the humor, the pathos, the illustrations are all mine.
Q: Did you focus on the text first or on the art, or did you work on both simultaneously?
A: I pretty much do both at the same time. The art in my books is more than just illustration of the text. It can comment and continue with the story. When I start writing in Word I place blue boxes with a description for the art. Then later add rough art after I’ve done of draft of text.
Q: What did you see as the right mix between seriousness and humor as you worked on the book?
A: It’s tricky when you’re dealing with a deceased character. The question I asked myself was how would two real-world human boys react to this extraordinary situation. It’s a weird situation that sets up a lot of conflict. And conflict is the basis for humor. No conflict. No comedy.
Also, I played it straight. There were moments of real pathos that I wrote as authentically and honestly as I could. I think the book plays out the wild premise as honestly as possible. Or at least that was my goal.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: I hope they enjoy it. I hope they laugh. I hope they cry. But only at the sad parts. If they cry at the funny parts I’m in trouble.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m about to turn in a book proposal (with Bradley Jackson) called Star Struck. It’s about a foursome of aliens masquerading as the popular boy band, ICU. They’ve come to Earth to fight disharmony. They’ve been here before. They were called The Beatles.
The story centers around two sisters from a broken family who try to help the alien boy band save the world. There’s a tour bus spaceship and woman in black who wants to shut the band down. Also there will be yodeling. ©2021 Michael Fry and Bradley Jackson. Query our agent, Dan Lazar, at Writer’s House.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I do a mean Christopher Walken impression: "you know… snakes they don’t bother me… it’s marsupials… with the fur and duck bill…. It’s strange, very strange."
--Interview with Deborah Kalb