Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Richard Scrimger

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Richard Scrimger

Richard Scrimger has made a name for himself with laugh out loud funny, offbeat books for young readers. He returns this spring with Zomboy (HarperCollins), the story of Irme Lazar, a new student at an Ontario public school. Irme is like any other boy — he wants to fit in, make friends and have fun. With the one small difference: Irme is undead (though the "z-word" is strictly off limits at his new school). Smart, weird and fast-paced, Zomboy is classic Richard Scrimger and will be as irresistible to readers as fresh, delicious brains.

Today Richard joins us as part of our Dirty Dozen series, which invites writers to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Richard dishes on what's tastier than chocolate, the perils of 1970s clothing and the essential ingredient for perfect barbecue sauce.

  1. I was once caught reading The Bible. I was raised a strict atheist, so when my mom burst into my bedroom in 6th grade, I tried to hide the book in my hand. (They’d given copies of the New Testament to our class that day.) I’ll never forget Mom’s expression — so disappointed — she’d rather it was Playboy or something....
  2. I do not like chocolate. Sorry, I know I should, but it doesn’t do anything for me. I much prefer peanut butter (crunchy for choice) or black liquorice. Mmmm. What do you mean, black liquorice tastes icky? Does not. Does not, I tell you. Shut up.
  3. My own kids hate my books. I know, I know. But you see, for them, writing is what takes me away. Dad do you want to go out and play? they’ll ask, and I’ll say, Sorry, I have to finish this manuscript.
  4. I have never won a race. Not even close. I was always the slowest runner in my class. I didn’t go to school with a kid in an iron lung, but if I had, I bet she would have beat me too. In 4th grade I was soooo envious of Scott Conover, who ran like the wind.
  5. I hate tight clothes. I was a chubby kid back in the 70s, when all the clothes fit like a second skin. OMG. I’m not so chubby now, but I can not bear the feeling of constriction.
  6. I am not claustrophobic. You know that nightmare where you’re buried alive? Well, to me, the idea of being in a warm quiet place, away from people who want you to do things, sounds pretty good. Give me enough air, a light to read my book, and a cup of coffee, and I’ll stay in my coffin all day long.
  7. Spare ribs. Cook em long and slow and smoky. My mom’s barbecue-sauce recipe involves lemon juice, garlic buds, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Bay leaf is key.
  8. Baseball is not boring. No, it isn’t.
  9. I never win at dice games. Don’t know why, but my luck is just terrible. Monopoly, Risk, Yahtzee, Sorry, craps — you name it, I lose at it. Card games are different. My luck there is way better. Poker, euchre, bridge, hearts, crazy 8s — you want to play?
  10. I have never had a celebrity crush. Nope. I appreciate how charming or beautiful or just plain cool some of them are, but back when all my friends were daydreaming about supermodels or Hollywood stars, I’d shrug. Hey, I could fail with the cute girl sitting next to me in math class (her name, sigh, was Miriam) — I didn’t have to aim any higher.
  11. I loved being an at-home dad. My ex-wife had a job that paid real money, so she got dressed up and went off to work and I stayed home with first 2, then 3, then 4 children. And had a great time. I got to make lunches and read stories and stop fights and sing songs and build things out of Lego and play attack-doll-house (we’d set up our action figures and then fire arrows and rockets and cannons at them — woo hoo!). Yeah, it was more than a little chaotic. There was a lot of mess and noise and diapers, and I was tired all the time. But man it was fun.
  12. I am not a grown-up. Not a real one, I mean. A real grown-up worries about the next budget meeting and what’s for dinner and is my hair combed and my mortgage paid and when should I gas up my car and are the kids okay. I don’t do any of those things. Now, I’m plenty old enough to be a grown-up. I have the gray hair and a couple of wrinkles. And I care about some things — the story I should be writing, the rent I should be paying, the friends I want to talk to. But I don’t have a budget or a mortgage or a car, and my clothes are usually the same things I wore yesterday. And when I stare in the mirror, the eyes peering back at mine are as full of fun and questions as any kid’s.

Richard Scrimger is the award-winning author of many acclaimed novels and picture books for young readers and adults. His works have been translated into several languages and have been critically acclaimed around the world. His first children’s novel, The Nose from Jupiter, won the tenth annual Mr. Christie’s Book Award. His young adult novels Into the Ravine and From Charlie’s Point of View were named Canadian Library Association Young Adult Honour Books, and his latest adult novel, Mystical Rose, was a Globe and Mail book of the year. He lives in Cobourg, Ontario. Visit Richard online at

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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