Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artist, and others! This week we’re joined by Adam Rex, the illustrator and author of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and the artist that brought to life Neil Gaiman’s new children’s book Chu’s Day, out on January 8th.
Join us as we cover topics ranging how ABBA is a true symbol of American freedom, who should invent space boats (he should), who should score the upcoming animated adaptation of his book The True Meaning of Smekday, and more....
Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the internet.
I unironically love ABBA. After we got our first family car with a tape deck, my dad acquired exactly three cassette tapes: A best of ABBA, Private Heaven by Sheena Easton, and the soundtrack to Xanadu. I also unironically love Xanadu.
My parents had a weird, clean-your-plate attitude toward music. They never had more than those three cassettes in the car, and we were only allowed to listen to them on road trips after we’d used up all the terrestrial radio.
Side note: when I was a twelve my dad brought home the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and left it conspicuously lying around. Just to see if I would show an interest, you understand, because he was concerned that I might be gay. I want to say that my dad presently has an enlightened attitude toward homosexuality, but this was 1988 and he was concerned. And looking back I have to wonder... Really, Dad? You wait until I’m twelve to see if I’m straight after scoring my childhood as if it were a Las Vegas drag show? I mean Olivia Newton-John for chrissake, Dad.
To this day I associate the songs of ABBA with the maverick freedom of the American road, as we all do.
If you could be reincarnated as any historical figure, who would you like to be?
That’s a weird question. Wouldn’t the historical figure have to have been reincarnated as me? I see that Lex Barker, the tenth actor to play Tarzan, died a few days before I was born. So I’m probably Lex Barker. All the clues are there–Lex rhymes with Rex; “Barker” because of my famous love of dogs; and of course my Johnny Weissmuller physique.
I, in turn, would like to be reincarnated as future historical figure Tex Barkadamer, inventor of the Space Boat.
If you could choose your own personal theme music/song to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?
I’ve had “Spanish Flea” stuck in my head since 1998, so in a subjective sense that is the song that’s playing whenever I enter a room. But since I don’t think that’s what you meant, I’m going to say “Dancing Queen.” Unless the room I’m entering is an elevator, in which case it should be “Love in an Elevator.”
What’s your favorite method of procrastination?
Do you have a favorite underrated/unknown/under-read author?
I don’t know how underrated/unknown/under-read he really is—the Irish probably know about him just fine—but I’ve been digging Flann O’Brien lately.
If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your (new/last/latest) book, who would it be?
I actually had a ready answer to this question with regards to my first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday: I wanted the Flaming Lips, specifically the circa 2000 Flaming Lips, to write an original concept album. And now Dreamworks is actually adapting that novel into an animated movie, and of course I have no say in the soundtrack whatsoever. Maybe I can talk them into recording a cover of “Do You Realize??” for the closing credits, like I’ve always wanted.
Someone described my current trilogy, Cold Cereal, as “Harry Potter if it were a Coen Brothers movie.” So what does that mean? Tom Waits, maybe?
What D&D character alignment best describes you first thing in the morning?
Ha! Hmm. You know, I actually have imagined D&D stats for myself on my blog. Under 2nd Edition rules I fancy that I’d be a Human Bard, Neutral Good, Strength 11, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 14, Dexterity 8, Constitution 8, Charisma 12.
In the middle of the night I expect I’m more like Lawful Neutral. Because when I’m trying to sleep I’m probably more likely to call the cops on you than I would be under any other circumstances.
Right when I wake up I’m the True Neutral of dumb animals and the undead.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
Probably D&D, actually. And I usually DM’d, so that was my gateway to storytelling as well. Then, when I was eleven, I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which has surely influenced the author I’ve become as much as any other book.
List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.
1. That I’m genuinely sorry.
2. That I’m really just trying my best.
3. That it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that my work is just a sloppy stew of mid-century Warner Brothers cartoons, Watchmen, Douglas Adams, Sandman comics, and wishing I’d tried harder in college. And I’m thirty-nine, so let’s assume Star Wars and The Simpsons, too. Are you maybe also in that Venn diagram? Hey. Didn’t see you there.
Adam lives in Tucson, where he draws, paints, writes, spends too much time on the internet, and listens to public radio. His first picture book, The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, was published by FSG in 2003. His picture book Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, a collection of stories about monsters and their problems, was a New York Times Bestseller. 2007 saw the release of his first novel, The True Meaning of Smekday. 2013 will see the release of his first collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Chu's Day.