Bodett: This questionnaire. When I’m done with this I intend to return to my work translating the poems of Robert Frost into Urdu and Farsi. Did you know that Farsi has no word for ‘snowy wood’?
TDQ: You showcased your voice talents on Steven Spielberg’s “Animaniacs,” too. (To this day, we find ourselves humming the state capital song in elevators.) Were you given the leeway to ad-lib on there like you did with that “We’ll leave the light on for you” thing?
Bodett: Yes, Spielberg wanted to give me co-creator credit on the series because I basically made the whole thing up over the donut table at our first session, but I would have none of it. He’s a really nice guy and deserves a little credit for the few things he manages to get to market.
TDQ: Who would you want to play you in the CW mini-series based on your life?
Bodett: That would take a lot of study by an actor, and require spending a lot of time with me to get to know my mannerisms and truly understand my motivations. It would have to be someone I’d feel comfortable with for a long period of time. So I would definitely have to go with Penelope Cruz.
TDQ: You also are a panelist on NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” Be honest, host Peter Sagal is almost impossible to work with more than a few hours a week, isn’t he?
Bodett: A week? A month! It takes two weeks just to heal from the verbal and physical abuse. The physical wounds are the easiest, a few punctures from writing implements (you should see that guy stick a Bic!) and the odd contusion from his water pitcher or Carl Kasell’s shoe (he would never throw those Ferragamo loafers of his). The verbal wounds never truly heal, but with time a hardy callous will form around them and we carry on almost as normal people while a little more dead inside. He has a lovely family, though. And I think they’re slowly poisoning him, but don’t print that.
TDQ: Is it more of a challenge or easier writing children’s books than the other books you’ve written?
Bodett: Authors of both will all tell you that writing for children is far more of a challenge. But they’re lying. They say that to impress librarians and school teachers who hold your success in their chalky little hands. Children don’t know anything. They’ll read whatever piece of crap you put in front of them. The real trick to successful children’s writing is becoming that piece of crap. And that’s the hard part.
TDQ: What project are you working on right now?
Bodett: You are dense, aren’t you? I’m working on this interview. This questionnaire. Whatever the hell we’re doing here. Then I’m going to make a sandwich.