Q and A: Interview with Rodney Richards

Rodney Richards is a brilliant author of books about science for elementary school-aged children. Among his many works is his most famous book, Hidden on a Prairie, a book about prairie life. The thirty-two year old claims to have written it in only two months, with absolutely no research. The quality of the writing is unbelievably excellent, and has won him a place in every child's heart.
He has taken time out of his busy schedule for an interview. I would like to welcome Rodney Richards; thank you for joining us today!

Richards: Yeah, yeah. That's okay. I was just dropping by.

Tell us, Rodney, what does it feel like to be big and popular? How do you feel about being a hero to all those school teachers and parents out there?

Richards: Well, it's an okay life. I do pride myself on my large audiences. But you know, life as a movie star isn't as great as being out on the prairie, feeling the nice cold wind and hearing the swishing branches of the trees. I kind of miss the penguins, too.

Just a moment, I want to ask you about what you just said there. You mentioned being a movie star; did you star in a movie too?

Richards: He, he. almost. National Geography wanted me to stand in for one of their programs on seals, but for some reason, they decided against it.

I see. What's National Geography?

Richards: Everyone knows about them, stupid!

Um, of course. Do you mean National Geographic?

Richards: Same thing.

Right. So what prairie did you write your book on? You said there were trees on it, and most prairies are characterized by their lack of trees.

Richards: I never actually went to a prairie. I figured that one of those place like the rain forest in the Blue Mountains of Australia was good enough, so I wrote the book there. There's nothing so good for an author than to be in the exact place he's writing about. You know?

Yes, quite. Now you did absolutely no research in writing this book?

Richards: None whatever. When I was younger I used to read a lot. By now I have, like, an encyclopedia for a brain, so it was an easy affair to write a book. It's just transferring thoughts onto paper that's the difficult part.

So, you have an encyclopedia brain. If I asked you a question, could you answer it?

Richards: Of course! Fire away.

Okay, what can you tell me about the founding of America?

Richards: Oh, you're getting smart on me! You didn't say it would be history question. Okay, so the founding of America.... The Indians found it first. They sailed over in their motorboats and established the USS Constitution. I think it was an airport of some sort. Then Christopher Columbus came over with some of his men and they set up a Bell of Rights.

A bell? I thought it was the Bill of Rights.

Richards: Well, it certainly cost them a bill to make that bell. I think that's why they had a big fight with the cardinals.

Cardinals? Who were they?

Richards: A type of bird; haven't you ever heard of them? Christopher Columbus and his gang called the birds red coats because the birds looked red.

Yeah. Most cardinals are red.

Richards: I thought you didn't know much about them.

Anyways, what happened next?

Richards: Well, clearly there was a big fight and Columbus won.

Against a flock of birds? Who were upset over a bill?

Richards: You would be upset if your bill was taken away, wouldn't you?

I suppose, if I was a bird. But why did they take the bill away in the first place. I mean -

Richards: You aren't paying attention! It was because the Bell cost so much, remember?

Alright. Enough with history. What can you tell me about math?

Richards: Oh, I'm quite handy with math. It taste good, too, what with the pie and all. It's also good with temperature. There's these sines, you see, that warn you when the temperature is too hot or cold. And if it's really hot, it turns into a tangent, abbreviated, tan.

Indeed? That's, um, useful. Now tell me, where exactly did you learn mathematics?

Richards: Math-a-magnets? What are those? Oh, you must be referring to Polar functions.

Never mind!

Richards: Sorry, I didn't realise polar functions upset you. You must have had a bad experience with them.

Um, yeah, I guess so!

Richards: Well, it has been wonderful to be interviewed by you, but, as I am looking at the time, I see I'll have to go. I've a meeting in five minutes.

Yes, I understand. Any last words you'd like to say?

Richards: Yes. I was positively thrilled to do this interview. Is there a chance we could do another one soon?

I'll have to see. Well, thank you again, Rodney! And to our readers, I highly suggest you read Rodney's book, Hidden on a Prairie, a great book written by a great guy.


Lost memory continued

I awoke one morning to find the streets and trees outside simply covered in light, fluffy snow. It was about time, I mused. The calendar had been reading December for quite a few days now. I hastily turned the radio to the news station, and grinned with glee as it listed off my school as being closed for a snow day.
This was going to be a great day, I thought. I went into the kitchen to find mom sitting at the table.
"Hi, mom!" I said cheerfully. "School's closed for today!"
"And no wonder," mom said, "We got 4 inches of snow last night, and more coming. The rate at which the snow is falling is amazing!"
"Indeed," I said, half-listening. I was already planning my day. I would read a couple books online, build a snow fort - maybe even work on a Christmas list.
"Oh, Jeremy," dad said entering the room. "You have the day off from school, right?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Could you shovel the driveway sometime today?" Dad's words shattered my plans.
"Shovel?" I gulped. "But couldn't you just get a plough to do it?"
"Well, we could but -" Dad hesitated. "In case you haven't noticed, the economy's been bad. We need to save money wherever we can, and $50 for a plough job is kind of expensive. Besides, it will be good exercise for you."
"Yeah, I guess so," I replied in flat monotone. But why was I so downcast? After all, shoveling would only take part of the morning.
I sighed, and quickly gobbled down breakfast. If the driveway had to be done, then it better be done as soon as possible. I grabbed for my hat and coat, and pulled on my mittens and boots, still wet from yesterday's trample in the slush.
I took one step outside, and breathed in the fresh, cold air. The snow looked so light and fluffy. I saw the tip of the mailbox peeping out of the snow bank at the end of the driveway. Just shovel to the mailbox, I told myself. It will be done in minutes.
I was halfway through the job when one of my classmates, Sarah, came running down the side walk. She made a sudden turn into our driveway, and gasped out, breathless,
"The school gymnasium on fire!"
"What?" I cried, dropping my shovel. The gymnasium was the new attachment to the school, and everyone was proud of it. The school had even worked up some small debt somewhere in order to have it made. If it burned down -
"There was some malfunction with the furnace," Sarah continued. "I overheard one of the firemen talking about it with the principal!"
"So there's firemen there; that's good," I said with relief.
"Yeah, well they aren't having too much success though," Sarah added glumly. "The wind is spreading it fast."
"What? No. This is winter; there's snow everywhere. I mean, fire's are supposed to be dangerous in droughts, right? Not in the middle of a blizzard!"
"Jeremy!" Sarah said in annoyance. "Outside maybe wet, but the inside of the building, where the malfunction first occurred, is still dry."
"Oh, true. So the fire is spreading inside the building, and the firemen can't put it out," I said.
"Oh, you're hopeless!" Sarah rolled her eyes. "Come and see for yourself!"
I propped the shovel up on the side of the house and followed Sarah to the site of the fire. There was a large crowd there already, and everyone in it was pushing and shoving and yelling. I could barely see the building. I heard one loud cry from the hundreds of people around me, some who could see the fire, and others that just took up the cry anyways, and gathered from it that the building was collasping. A loud crash affirmed my theory, and the sound of several police whistles indicated that they were trying to keep the crowd in order.
I turned away sadly; the beautiful new building, the pride of the school campus, was gone, and there was no chance of rebuilding it for a while. There was nothing more to see. I dragged my feet on the way home.
"Mom!" I called as I entered the house.
"Hush, Jeremy! I'm watching the news! Did you realise that the school gymnasium is burning down?" Mom said. Her hands were visibly trembling as she tensed herself before the TV. I sighed and shook my head sadly.
What more could I do?

A week later, as I came out of my math class, still dwelling on thoughts of sines and cosines, Sarah came running to meet me again. She like to run, I noticed, being a very nervous sort of girl, and needing an outlet for her energy.
"Jeremy!" she cried. "Did you hear the news?"
"What now?" I asked, grinning. "Is another building burning down?"
"Jeremy, that's not even funny!" Sarah pouted.
"I'm sorry. What is it?"
"The school's selling it's large collection of books in the library to the museum!"
"Why?" I laughed. Of course this was some joke.
"Because hardly everyone reads books any more, and almost all the books you can find online, and the books contain a certain amount of lead that is harmful to children, and by selling them to the museum, the school will raise enough money to effectively repair the walls damaged in the fire," Sarah stopped for a breath.
"Wait! Wait a second!" I held up my hands and laughed. "The school is going to rebuild the gymnasium based on the sale of a few books?"
"Rebuild the gym? Are you kidding? Of course not! But they're not selling some of the books; they're selling all of the books."
"What? No. This is the kind of crisis that only happens in books."
"But this is a book!"
"No, this is only a section of a story on a blog!"
"But Jeremy! Anything can happen in a story! Especially one about some kids in a public school, written by someone who's never been inside a public school!"
"Are you indicating that the authoress is one of those homeschoolers?" I gulped in dread. Anything could happen in a story written by a homeschooler. Yes, things were beginning to look grave. "Couldn't we try and tell her that schools are supported by taxes, and that they don't just sell their books like that, completely demolishing their libraries?"
"But we're nobodies! Only characters from some weird story she decided to write!"
"Then maybe we should stop arguing and try to please her, lest she make more horrible things happen. I'm already stuck with a memory problem," I said, trying to calm Sarah down.
"A memory problem?"
"It's complicated. Don't bother," I said in an undertone. "Now then, where were we?"
"The school is selling all its books in order to repair the wall and fix the furnaces so that the students will be warm during the cold winter while they're in classes, and -"
"Okay! Okay, so now we have to figure out what to do."
"We could sell popcorn to raise money for the school, so they wouldn't have to sell any books," Sarah suggested.
"Popcorn?" I made a face. "That will make us just rich!"
"You think so?" Sarah's face lit up. She didn't understand sarcasm.
"Um, well, maybe we could instead put on a play, you know?" I said hurriedly. I don't know why the word "play" came to mind, since I'm not an actor by any stretch. But somehow, this plan excited Sarah, and she was bouncing all around me with delight.
"Amy!" She called to a girl halfway across the campus. "Come quick! Jeremy's got the most wonderful idea to raise money!"
Amy came running, and so did half the school. Sarah explained the plan to them, with several (meaning here a couple dozen) of her own additions. The students all agreed to the plan with great enthusiasm, and thus began the evolution of a play....

To be continued in another section.....


Lost memory

I banged my head against the wall in despair. I had done it again. I had messed up everything....
I rubbed my sore head as I gazed out the window at the floating snow. It looked so fresh and white and clean in brilliant contrast to the deep green of the pine trees. I stared at the pretty scene with a smile slowly curving my lips. No! I cried inside of myself. I must not get distracted!
I tried to focus back on my problems. After all, I had done it again.
Done what again?
I rubbed my head slightly confused. That whack from the wall had driven the memory straight from my brain!
I gasped in dismay. Who was I? Where was I? Why was I here?
A tall young woman entered the room and said, "Jeremy, what is this I see?" she held up a slip of paper, her eyes narrowing into slits with anger.
"I don't remember," I choked. Was my name Jeremy?
"Don't remember?" the woman said sarcastically. "You're not going to get out of this that easily!"
"But really! I have amnesia!" I don't know how that word managed to stick in my mind, but it did. Perhaps my memory was returning?
"Amnesia!" the young woman said sharply. "Cut it out! I'm being serious!"
"So am I! I don't even know who you are!" I persisted.
"Jeremy Greg Flipper!" the young woman said sternly, her hands on her hips.
"Oh, hello, Jeremy," I said politely.
"What?" the woman's face was slightly confused. She couldn't tell if I was mocking her or not.
"Sorry, I thought that's what you said your name was," I confessed. I gulped hard. The woman was very angry now. She opened her mouth to scold me, but changed her mind and left the room in stormy silence.
Uh, oh. What should I do now? I was stuck here, completely unable to recall any scrap of information, except for the name of the disease I had. Or was it a disease? I couldn't remember.
I wandered around the room, and felt the couch, the shelves, and everything, trying to remember them. I flopped on the couch at last, stretching my long frame across the cushions, and shook my head in dismay. Nothing was returning to my mind. I groaned, and closed my eyes.
The next thing I knew, I was just waking up from a long, refreshing sleep. I sat up and yawned. It was then that I became aware of a shadowy figure in the doorway of the room. It was the shape of a man; a man who was staring intently at me. I rubbed my eyes and he became clearer. It was very dark, and I knew that it was after dinner, because the faint scent of meatloaf still lingered in the air.
"What do you want?" I asked the man in the shaky voice of one just awoken.
"Jeremy, I heard you were giving your mom some trouble earlier," the man said, coming into the room and sitting beside me on the couch.
"She's my mom, then," I said softly to myself. The man overheard me, and I saw his eyes glaring in annoyance.
"Of course she's your mom; who else would she be?" he said sarcastically. Sarcasm. The woman - mom - had that problem too. They must be related.
"Who are you?" I asked curiously.
"What?" the man said in surprise.
"I knew your name once; what is it?"
"Jeremy Greg Flipper!" the man said sternly.
"No, that's mom's name," I said and then stopped. Why had they both said that name? It must be of importance.
The man was furious now. "Look! We just want to know why your grades when down on your school record! Why do you have to act so stupid?"
"Because I am stupid?" I asked hopefully.
The man stood up and looked at me. He opened his mouth to yell, but changed his mind, and stormed out of the room in angry silence.
Great! I was doing just great! Sarcasm, I realised with a start. I must be related to the two strangers here. One was called mom, and the other - dad? That sounded right, I reasoned.

I slept on the couch that night. When I awoke, light was streaming through the window. My head was aching dreadfully. I rolled off the couch and stood up slowly, rubbing my eyes. It was to my undoing. I couldn't see where I was going, and walked right into the wall, banging my head pretty hard. The amazing thing happened; I could remember things!
I stood stunned for a moment, before deciding to try an experiment. If I banged my head again, would the memory leave it? I banged the side of my head against the wall. Nothing happened. Maybe I didn't bang it right. I banged my forehead against the wall. I was plunged once more into a haze in which only the most recent occurrence was remember-able.
Then I banged my head again and remembered everything. What was going on?
I reached up timidly to my forehead, and pressed hard against it with my hand. Poof! went my memory. So I didn't have to go banging it all the time; that was useful to know. Hopefully I could remember that when my memory was gone. I pressed my memory back into my head and chuckled to myself. I must be dreaming.
I sat down at the breakfast table to eat. Mom and dad were already there, eating in stony silence. I grinned cheerfully at them, and tried explaining my discovery, but they only stared blankly at me. At last mom said,
"Jeremy, really! You're too old for these games!"
That shut me up for the rest of the meal. I was too old for those sorts of games. But what happens when "those sorts of games" become reality? I needed to think things over.

School went just as it always did. I sat down in my history class and stared at the test before me. It was full of hard names and dates. I pressed twice on my forehead, once to erase my memory, and twice to make it all return to its strongest capacity. I A-ced the test.
No one would believe me when I tried to tell them about it, and so I didn't bother telling them any more.
A couple weeks passed and I was able to discover more about my hidden ability. When I erased my memory and brought it back within seconds, my memory was always stronger than before. While in my state of no-memory, I could remember the last phrase, or action done before I was plunged in the state. It was thus that I could remember how to bring back my memory.
If I failed to bring my memory back after erasing it for more than five minutes, I forgot how to bring it back, and would go thrashing in the difficulty of a lost memory until I accidently banged my head, or pressed my forehead in my hands.
It was tricky, but I was getting used to it.

To be continued in another section.....

P.S. No, it is not your imagination; this story is the corniest I've done yet. But as always, it results from overloading my brain with school.... :P


Time....... (Part 18)

My deepest apologies for all those imaginary persons who have long since lost interest in this story, for taking so long to post this. :)
Other previous sections can be seen here.

Frank watched the computer screen closely. No one had passed through the doors leading outside or inside. He could see the swarm of red dots moving this way and that in preparation for the expected attack, and they reminded him of bees in a beehive.
He tapped his fingers on the keyboard impatiently, and gasped in alarm as the screen he had been observing changed suddenly.
"Oh, bother it all! I've lost the correct window! Now how do I get back to it?" Frank groaned. He investigated the screen and saw that he had put on the setting that looked for UMO's. Curiously, he searched the fort for the blue dots and found two of them. He had recently received a number of his own, so he knew that he could not excuse one of the dots as being himself.
The dots were located on the North wall, he noted, and were swiftly making their way along to the West wall. He knew there was an entrance there. No doubt these blue dots were intruders, either people or robots, sent by the Nagars, and were probably the ones responsible for the weakening of the wall.
He had to contact the leader quickly, before the UMOs could escape. He hastily set the signaller he had been given to on and told his message quickly.
"Leader? This is Liftun speaking. Two UMO's spotted North wall making for West wall. Moving fast. Over."
"This is your leader. We read you. Will send men to investigate. Stand by. Over."
Frank took a deep breath to calm his shaking knees. Perhaps he was finally doing something to help the fort. Maybe the leader would think better of him after this. He hoped so.
Five minutes had passed when he heard a noise at the gate. Fromere entered the ITC in a hurry, and came over to the computer.
"How is it going, Liftun?"
"Good, sir," Frank replied.
"Is that a 'polite good' or a' sincere good'?"
"Um, I think it's more a polite one," Frank sighed.
"That's what I thought. You're looking green," Fromere said. "What's the trouble?"
"I think I messed up the computer. I'm not sure how to get it out of the UMO setting."
"Oh, here. Just press that button, see?" Fromere went to press the button he indicated but paused and stared at the screen. "Those are the two UMOs you warned us about?"
"Yes, sir. Why? They aren't anything important?"
"Important! I'll say it's important! They're using a passageway I didn't even know existed!"
"But it's right here on the computer. I don't see how-"
"It's on here now. It wasn't before. I've got to contact the leader right away!" Fromere grabbed the microphone and began talking furiously into it. Frank couldn't catch all he said. When the conversation had ended, Fromere turned to Frank.
"The leader's sent men to locate the area shown on the computer. He's coming up here himself to see."
"I don't get it. Why is this important? So there's an extra tunnel. And there's two foreign objects in it. And it's right under the North wall that was recently mysteriously weakened," Frank said thoughtfully. "Do you think it's all connected?"
"Do I think it's -! Oh, bother, Liftun! One minute you're a genius and the next, an idiot! Of course it's connected!" Fromere choked.
Frank looked down at his feet. Why were people so hyper here?

Peter sighed in dismay. The whole plan of escape - ruined. And they might never have another chance. He looked at Kevin, standing beside him.
"Have you come up with anything?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, I - think so," Kevin said slowly. "Look, we can go along with the Scallions and try to get out at, like, a red light, or something and -"
"What if they don't stop at any red lights?"
"Then we keep on with them till they do stop. Then we can slip away while they're busy and no one will notice."
"But, wait! The machine! What will we do with the machine? We can't bring it along, and we can't go back for it, because by the time we walk all the way back to the hideout, the robbers will be done and returning. Then we're right back where we were, only possibly in a worse position."
"True...." Kevin said thoughtfully. "You live in NYC, don't you?"
"I used to. I'm not sure were I 'live' at the moment."
"Well, aren't there any means of transportation we can hire for a quick return?"
"Hitch-hiking," Peter suggested. "It won't cost us a thing, which is good because we don't have any money on hand. We can ask someone to take us to the -" Peter paused to think, "the gas station on Higher Street. It's a little street that's more like an alley than anything else, and isn't in the best of environment, you know, sketchy neighbourhood. But it's not much better here, and the gas station is only about 1 mile from here," Peter figured quickly.
"Wait! How do you know this neighbourhood so well?" Kevin interjected.
"I took note of it when me and Henry picked up the machine from the jail. Now we just have to climb in the trucks and act normal, okay?"
"You mean normally crooked," Kevin clarified.
"Yes," Peter grinned. He saw Henry watching him out of the corner of his eye. "He won't stop looking at me," Peter sighed.
"Do you think he's suspicious?" Kevin asked softly. Their conversation had not been overheard due to the commotion the robbers were making as they loaded and boarded the trucks. Nevertheless, Kevin suddenly felt the need to be more careful.
Peter shrugged in answer to his friend's question, and began walking bravely towards one of the trucks. Kevin followed him at a slight distance.
"Hey, youngster!" Henry clapped Peter's shoulder.
"Ya still feeling sick?"
"I'm feeling better, thanks."
"Ah, very good, very good." Henry looked pleased. "What were ya talking about with that other boy; what was 'is name again?"
"Ah, ya. Kevin. Ya looked intense."
"I'm just a little nervous. You know, first big robbery and all," Peter said casually.
"Ha, ya'll get over it!" Henry said in his booming voice. "Ya better climb on now. It would be bad to get left behind!"
"Indeed," Peter wished he could roll his eyes. He wished he could be left behind. But Henry wouldn't let him, he felt sure of that, as even now, Henry was watching his every move as he climbed into a large truck. Kevin managed to push his way next to Peter.
Peter grabbed his friend's hand and found that it was cold and shaking slightly. "Don't worry, Kev! We'll make it!" He whispered, though he doubted Kevin could hear him. He had forgotten Kevin's "remarkable ears."
"Of course we'll make it!" Kevin said hastily. Peter detected a note of anxiety in his friend's voice.
The truck started up quietly. It began to move. This was the beginning - or the end.


Tip #1

Don't retain bitterness. It could start a world - war.


"Only the wise can write a truly witty saying, but only the foolish will try to."
~R. Richards


The Stuck Truck

The door bell rang gently. I opened the door a little bit and peered out at the visitor.
"Hi, is this number 170?" the middle-aged man in a leather jacket and baseball cap asked.
"No, this is 178, I think," I replied. I could never remember our street address.
"Oh, this isn't the residence of Philip R.?" the man asked. (R. substituted for full last name.)
"No, it's not," I glanced at the clip board, pen and camera in his hands. Tax assessor, maybe?
The stranger puzzled aloud over the street numbers and was clearly annoyed at the seeming absence of Philip Somebody on the entire road.
I noticed that my grandparents, who lived just next door and bring us the mail from our little country post office box everyday, had just pulled into the driveway, as well.
After expressing his apology, the stranger hopped back into his large, tan truck, and backed out of the driveway. Or tried too. He got stuck in a snow bank at the base of the driveway. His wheels spun and caused a light powder to fly up, but the truck insisted on remaining where it was.
After that, everything was a blur. My grandmother was inside drinking tea and my grandfather was helping to shovel snow and tug at that stubborn truck. My brother brought out ashes from the fire place and we got sand, too. At last, after a good workout of a couple of hours in 15 degree (Fahrenheit) weather, the truck pulled free.
The stranger expressed his desire to pay damages done to the little sign that used to bear the numbers "178," and left his number. Apparently, his GPS led him to the wrong street, and consequently, the wrong house. He seems to be a very nice sort of stranger, but I wonder why he God had him show up today?
That was my morning.