Catherine Thimmesh
Cather­ine Thimmesh
Pho­to: Lori Dozier

Q: Where do your ideas come from?

A: This ques­tion always stumps me. Cer­tain­ly ideas catch spark from many places: your dai­ly expe­ri­ences, con­ver­sa­tions you’ve had or over­heard, an arti­cle you’ve read. But the form­ing of the idea in the first place—where the idea lit­er­al­ly comes from—seems more like a ques­tion of neu­ro-sci­ence to me: how do those chem­i­cals and elec­tri­cal charges and synaps­es in your brain some­how work togeth­er to pro­duce thoughts? I’d give any­thing to under­stand where my ideas come from. Right now, it’s a mystery.

Q: Is it hard to think of stuff?

A: Some­times it is, some­times it isn’t. Some­times ideas (wher­ev­er they actu­al­ly come from) are fly­ing around so fast in my head I feel like I have a rub­ber boun­cy-ball brain and I can’t write things down fast enough. Oth­er times, I stare out the win­dow for hours at a time and noth­ing of inter­est comes my way.

Q: Why do you write nonfiction?

A: I’m very curi­ous and I find the real world to be utter­ly fascinating.

Q: Did you always want to write nonfiction?

A: No. I actu­al­ly came to non­fic­tion by hap­pen­stance. My first book, Girls Think of Every­thing, began as a work of fic­tion. The edi­tor who read it didn’t think it was ter­ri­bly strong as fic­tion but was drawn to the non­fic­tion sto­ries I had woven with­in. She sug­gest­ed I try the book as pure non­fic­tion. Which I did.

Q: Do you ever want to write fiction?

A: I do. I am def­i­nite­ly inter­est­ed in try­ing oth­er cre­ative out­lets down the road: pic­ture books, chap­ter books, or even nov­els. I’d espe­cial­ly like to write an orig­i­nal screen­play (for a movie or TV show) someday.

Q: Do you ever wish you could go to the moon?

A: Every day. All day long.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: Not too long ago, I took lessons on the fly­ing trapeze at a cir­cus school but I had to give that up because I have a bit of a bad neck. Years ago, I actu­al­ly went skydiving—three dif­fer­ent times! —but now that I have kids I try to be a lit­tle more care­ful. These days, my fun is more of the relaxed ver­sion: I read, watch movies, sit in the sun when it’s warm.

Q: What was your favorite book as a kid?

A: I loved The Great Brain series (The Great Brain at the Acad­e­my is prob­a­bly my
favorite). I also read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweil­er and the Judy
Blume books about a mil­lion times each.

Q: Do you have any pets?

A: Not one. But for a while I was seri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing rais­ing jel­ly­fish. But it turns out you have to grow smelly shrimp-like crea­tures (for food) in your house and it’s a ton of work.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Diet Pep­si™ and French fries. Good thing I work out reg­u­lar­ly at the gym.