Interview: The Narrator (The Templeton Twins Have an Idea)

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is a superb new middle grade novel written by Ellis Weiner. The star of the book, in my opinion, is The Narrator. Without a doubt The Narrator steals the show. His quirkiness, attitude, and humor make this book laugh out loud funny. I had the priviledte (misfortune?) of interview The Narrator. Enjoy!

1. If you had to describe the book in 3 sentences or less, how would you do it?

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is, before anything else, a triumph of narration.  It concerns a pair of twins, their father, their dog, two adult twins, some inventions, and allied matters, all superbly narrated.  This excellent narration combines with some delightful artwork and clever design to produce a truly wonderful narrative.

2. What was it like working with Ellis Weiner and Jeremy Holmes?

Working with Mr. Ellis Weiner was like working with a ventriloquist who insists on being his own dummy.  I have no clear idea what that means but it “feels” right.  Working with Jeremy Holmes was a privilege and an honor and a pleasure.  Other than that, it wasn’t much.

3. What advice would you give to young storytellers?

First, do not be a storyteller.  Be a writer.  This means, do not think that, once you know what your story is, you are done.  As a writer, you must be as interested in, challenged by, and attentive to words as you are to your story.  This sounds like more work—and it is—but it’s extremely satisfying.  How do you go about doing this?  By reading constantly and writing a lot.

4. Is your storytelling style inspired by the narrators of other books?

My inimitable style is all my own, but I can tell you that Mr. Ellis Weiner was influenced by several other narrators.

One is Charles Kinbote, the narrator of Vladimir Nabokov’s great novel, Pale Fire.  Another is Prof. Renee Willis, a fictional person Mr. Weiner created (note the anagram of the name) to “host” the old web site ellisweiner.com.  As you read the site (which no longer exists in that form), you realized that Prof. Willis, while pretending to admire Mr. Weiner and his work, in fact hated Ellis Weiner’s guts, based on some slight Willis felt he’d received years earlier.  Willis’s voice was touchy, vain, condescending, disingenuous, and snide.

5. What three books would I recommend fourth grade students read?

The should read Alice in Wonderland, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Introduction to DOS 3.1.

The first is, of course, Lewis Carroll’s amusing depiction of a smart, sensible girl’s encounter with various kinds of adult absurdity.  The second is, of course, Mark Twain’s classic first-person narrative of a naughty but sensible boy’s encounter with various kinds of adult prejudices, ignorance, and absurdities.  (Both of these, one notes with interest, were written under pseudonyms.)

The third is, of course, an ancient manual about one of the early computer operating systems—a system which is as dead as the dodo and obsolete as a chariot.  The reason to read it is, it will prove so boring, and tedious, and useless, that any other book the students read thereafter will seem urgently relevant and brilliant by comparison.

You’re welcome.

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Do you have your own question for The Narrator? Feel like giving him a hard time? If so, be sure to visit the Templeton Twins Tumblr by clicking below.

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