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Author Spotlight: Adam Rex

Festival Staff / February 12, 2016

In last year’s Tucson Festival of Books appearance, Adam Rex talked about his experience of having his book, The True Meaning of Smekday adapted into Home, a movie by DreamWorks Animation.

Now the Tucson writer and illustrator is back to talk about the newest adventures of Smek. He gave us a pre-festival update on what he’s doing.

Last year you spoke about Home to Tucson Festival of Books with a hopeful but nervous attitude. How do you think things will be different at the festival this year with the movie’s success?

I think it’ll be almost exactly the same, honestly. If the festival dates had fallen one or two weeks after the movie’s opening weekend [in late March 2015], then I might haveexpected some longer lines or larger crowds, but it’s been a year.

How has Hollywood success changed you as an author?

I'm talking to some people and doing some work I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. A friend and I are co-writing a script for a studio. I’m really excited about that.

What inspires you to create your books?

Sometimes this question can be a little like “Where do you usually get hungry?” Inspiration can come from anything, happen anywhere. I never know. Sometimes I can see the train of thought that brought me to an idea, but often they’re completely out-of-the-blue flashes of inspiration with no return address.

I’ll bet everyone gets these flashes. But most people don’t spend half their waking hours thinking about storytelling, so when the idea flutters by they’re not already holding a net or they don’t have a pathological need to examine the thing or they aren’t willing to risk killing it to get a better look at it.

The longer I do this, the less I believe in those flashes of inspiration anyway. Now I believe in work. If you keep writing, it’ll come.

What does the day-to-day business of being an author actually look like for you?

You want to know what I haven’t been doing for several weeks now? Writing. People always say that you have to write every day if you want to make it as an author, but right now I’m painting the illustrations for a picture book by Drew Daywalt. That’ll take up most of my time for the next couple months, during which I don’t expect to get much real writing done.

But otherwise I might be writing in a cafe or sketching at home or doing “research” on the internet or visiting a school to give a talk or traveling to festivals in other states. I don’t have a typical day.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

You have to write every day if you want to make it as an author.

What are you working on right now?

Beside that Drew Daywalt book and the script I’m co-writing, I’m illustrating one of my own picture book manuscripts. It’s about fruit! See how I’m tapping into the zeitgeist like that? Fruit! It’s what everybody’s talking about.

Where can we buy your books?

Israel! Brazil. Korea, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, the Czech Republic, China, France. Other places I can’t remember right now.

This is something else Hollywood did for me—it raised a lot of foreign interest in my books. It opened some doors for me, paid for my bathroom remodel and raised a lot of foreign interest in my books.

Rex has had 19 books published, including the “New York Times” best seller “Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich.”

Find Adam Rex during the Tucson Festival of Books: Layering Laughs: Writing Comedy on Saturday, March 12; High Octane: Masterminds and Smek Search for the Seven Wonders, On Your Mark, Get Ready, Draw: Illustrator Draw-Off, and Adam Rex and Chu's Beach Day on Sunday, March 13.He will be available in the corresponding signing areas after each of these events, and books will be made available for purchase. Learn more about Adam Rex on his website.

Elena Acoba is a Tucson writer and editor who helps companies and organizations tell their stories and craft their messages. She also writes feature stories on assignment, including for the Arizona Daily Star and the Arizona Office of Tourism. Acoba has participated in the Tucson Festival of Books as a panelist and by writing author profiles for the TFOB website.

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