Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Interview with Mark Thomas, author of When Farts Had Colors

Mark is a sixth grade teacher in Atlanta, GA.  His book, When Farts Had Colors, will be featured at the Savannah Children’s Book Festival on Saturday, November, 19th, 2011. 
What was your inspiration for this book?
I've been teaching for over ten years, and my biggest fear is letting one rip right in the middle of a lesson. I'm terrified of the idea. My students would no doubt torment me forever. It's not the legacy I want to leave. On the other, I have to admit, it would be quite hysterical.
There is absolutely nothing funnier than a loud fart going off in the middle of a lesson. Nothing! It levels the playing field immediately. So, basically I took my fear and turned it into a book. I still take Gas-X every morning before I start school, by the way.
Is your book aimed at reluctant readers?
I don't believe in reluctant readers - there's no such thing. I do believe there are children who haven't found the right material. And funny always helps. When Farts Had Colors is aimed at everyone who has a pulse, not to mention a funny bone. Also, the antagonist, Merry Maddox, is really empowering. Girls love her!
Will there be more books with Lance Chance and Merry Maddox?
I certainly hope so. I'm already thinking of the next one. Lance and Merry are now my new-best imaginary friends. They stay up too late for me, though.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I love anything by James Thurber, Anthony Lane or Fran Lebowitz. So whatever I read needs to be funny and short.  Just like my students.
What book are you reading right now?
I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President, by Josh Lieb. Well, I'm not actually reading it, yet. I just like to look at the title and ask “why I didn’t think of that?”
What were your favorite books in elementary school?
Go Dog Go, Amelia Bedelia, and Tom Sawyer – not necessarily in that order, either.
Your book is starting to be mentioned in the same breath as Captain Underpants.
That’s a huge compliment. Dav Pilkey has gotten more boys to read since Dr. Seuss. He’s awesome.
Some people pooh-pooh your book for using potty humor. What is your response?
Well, obviously they haven’t gotten past the title yet. As a teacher I couldn’t help but include in my book the same themes I try every day to instill in my students: honesty, respectfulness, and taking responsibility. But it’s done with a sense of humor. Just visit our website and check out the study guide. I think parents and teachers will be pleasantly surprised. One can also find Lance’s, the main character, blog on the website. He’ll be dealing with everything from standing up to bullies to avoiding nasty cafeteria food.

What is your favorite quote?
Oscar Wilde's "Life is too important to be taken seriously." I think that about sums it up.