Interview: Henry Herz, Author of When You Give An Imp A Penny

HerzWhenYouGiveAnImpAPennyFolks, please welcome author and editor Henry Herz to the blog again. I have thoroughly enjoyed his works (Nimpentoad & Beyond the Pale) and recently his newest release When You Give An Imp A Penny. Get ready for a lively interview that includes Lord of the Rings references, an appreciation of children’s stories for all ages, and plenty more!

1. If you could be an extra on a kids’ movie or TV show, what would it be?

What a terrific question! But, so difficult to answer given the many great choices. I think it would be a blast to have been an extra on The Incredibles, The Princess Bride, Shrek, Arthur and the Invisibles, Chicken Run, or Where the Wild Things Are.

2. Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

I think we first need to clarify what KIND of dragon. Are we talking silly dragons like Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon), H.R. Pufnstuf, Cassie (Dragon Tales), Puff the Magic Dragon, or Elliott (Pete’s Dragon)? Perhaps powerful but kindly dragons like Saphira (Eragon), Falkor (The Neverending Story) or Ramoth (The Dragonriders of Pern)? Or the terrifying killing machines Vermithrax Pejorative (Dragonslayer), Fafner (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Norbert (Harry Potter), Ancalagon (The Silmarillion), Yevaud (A Wizard of Earthsea) or Smaug (The Hobbit)?

Since I enjoy spending time with my family and writing, I should probably remain human, and opt for a dragon pet, so long as it obeys my will. “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

HerzNimpentoad3. If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

If I couldn’t be a writer, I’d be a board game designer. It’s a fun combination of being analytical and creative. I actually designed a submarine warfare game MANY years ago and sold it to SPI, but they went out of business before the game could be made. Not my fault!

4. If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

Since I am a Lord of the Rings fanatic, I have to say I would eat whatever Galadriel’s elves are serving for dinner in Middle Earth’s Lothlorien, or whatever Finarfin’s elves are serving in Valmar (the capital of Valinor in The Silmarillion). I’m guessing vegan, but with plenty of good wine.

5. If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in children’s literature, what HerzMonsterGooseNurseryRhymesbooks would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Creating a syllabus for a college class in children’s literature would be a two-edged sword. It would be a riot to do, but it would be HARD to pick only a few to cover. Some personal favorites include:
Younger Kids: Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak), This is Not My Hat (Klassen), A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Stead), The Cat in the Hat (Seuss), Frog and Toad Are Friends (Lobel)
Older Kids: The Hobbit (Tolkien), The Book of Three (Alexander), A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Lewis), Charlotte’s Web (White), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl).

6. What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

My answer to your question 2?

See also the Six Degrees of Sauron web application I co-designed. The Dark Lord is closer than you think!

HerzBeyondThePale7. What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

That was a LONG age ago. As in carved stone tablets… Probably a Dr. Seuss book. Perhaps One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish.

8. Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, my new picture book, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY, is just out from Pelican Publishing. Before you lend an imp a penny, there’s something you should know—such a simple act of generosity could set off a side-splitting chain of events! A colorful picture book full of mythology, mischief, and magic, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY shows us just what happens when an accident-prone—but well-intentioned—imp comes along asking for favors! The same writer/illustrator duo that brought you MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES brings to life a comedy of fabled proportions.

HerzWhenYouGiveAnImpAPennyFrom tracking mud on the floor to setting the broom on fire, this clumsy little imp causes accidents wherever he goes, but he’s determined make things right again. The only thing it will cost his host is a little patience—and maybe a bit of time cleaning up some messes! It won’t be long before this troublemaker has won over the entire family (except for the cat) with his irrepressible charm.

I have three more picture books scheduled for publication. LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016) is an aquatic retelling of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, but with a sassy cephalopod protagonist. MABEL & THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016) is a bedtime picture book inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. Little Mabel was an expert at not going to sleep. But Mom had the Queen of Dreams in her quiver of bedtime tales. The Queen paints children’s dreams, so she only visits when their eyes are closed. DINOSAUR PIRATES (Sterling, 2017) is a comical mashup of two kid favorites. A T-rex with a piratey patois!? Cap’n Rex leads his dinosaur pirates in search of booty. As they encounter obstacles in their quest, the apex predator “encourages” his crew to think outside the box. When the treasure is found, Cap’n Rex wants to keep it for himself, but the clever crew turns the tables on him.

I’m thrilled to be moderating a children’s literature panel at WonderCon in Los Angeles on March 26. The panelists will be award-winning authors and illustrators Bruce Hale (CLARK THE SHARK), Jon Klassen (THIS IS NOT MY HAT), Laura Numeroff (IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE), and Dan Santat (THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND), and Antoinette Portis (WAIT).

Places to Find Henry Herz and his two talented sons Josh and Harrison



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