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.