An interview with Thomas Forys

At Tacos, we’re searching high and low to bring you all we can about the world’s funniest kids books. From best-selling authors and illustrators to the emerging talent coming through. Today on Tacos, we’re celebrating an emerging author with a great sense of humour and a desire to make people laugh.

Thomas Forys is author and illustrator of Knucklehead Dad and the Adventures of Sharkmaid .

Sharkmaid author interview

He’s a dad, a family man, an author, an illustrator, a funny guy and a self-proclaimed Knucklehead. Ladies and Gentlemen, all the way from Texas USA, I give you Thomas Forys – Woo-hoooo!

crowd cheering
Woo-hooo! I love Sharkmaid! Forys a jolly good fellow! Yipeeee!

Welcome Thomas, and thanks for joining us today.

Thanks for having me.

So, tell us about Knucklehead Dad and the Adventures of Sharkmaid.

My kids (Logan age 6 and Olivia age 8) and I like to draw funny pictures and come up with silly stories or songs from time to time, and Knucklehead Dad and the Adventures of Sharkmaid was born of that mindset. 

Fantastic, it’s such a fun title. How did it all come about?

One day as we awaited our food in a restaurant, I decided to draw a mermaid with a shark’s head. The kids got a kick out of it, inspiring me to take it a bit further. I spent some time envisioning how such a creature came about, the adventures he’d have, obstacles he’d overcome and trouble he might get into.  After 8 months crafting a story and digitally illustrating it, the book was born. 

Awesome! Where can we get our hands on a copy?

It’s such a fun book. What was the inspiration for the story? Your kids?

Keeping my family laughing is my inspiration. Saying I wrote a book was also a goal of mine as well.  It took me a while to write and illustrate Sharkmaid, and I’m exceedingly proud of the book. 

The illustrations are fantastic by the way. You’ve really captured the fun mood of the story.

I realize it isn’t “War and Peace”, but it is important to me to not put out fluff that was quickly thrown together.  I would not be keen to have my name on a project like that.  This book makes the child and the adult reading along laugh all through the book.  It has words and concepts that a child will have to get clarity on, but that is fine with me.  That’s called actual human interaction between the child reader and the adult reading along. 

Have you always been a writer? How did you get into writing?

I’ve written a screenplay in the past that ultimately went nowhere and dabbled in other book concepts, but I have never crossed the finish line.

Well, you have now. A lot of people don’t cross that finishing line. How important was that to you?

I think finishing and publishing Knucklehead Dad and the Adventures of Sharkmaid will serve as a stepping stone to other projects.  I think surpassing the “I never have the time/energy to sit and write” obstacle is hard for a lot of people, myself included.

True. Do you have plans for another book?

Writing and publishing Children’s books can prove addicting.  I am always on the lookout for other ideas for Children’s books as well as a full length novel.  It’s fun to produce one but like anything else, parenting comes first.  As a Dad, we have to balance our time well and make sure other facets of our lives don’t suffer unduly as we take on another writing project.  I actually left the door open to another Sharkmaid adventure at the end of this book.  Who knows… he may be back!

If you could go back in time and do anything differently as a child to be a better writer as an adult, what would it be?

Great question!  I wish I would have documented some of the sillier ideas I had in my youth that would translate well into book form.  I’ve always been a bit of a knucklehead and perhaps some of the ideas that have slipped my memory would have been sure-fire winners.

Who is your funniest fictional character?

That’s a hard one.  I will say the funniest movie, in my opinion, is Kingpin with Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Bill Murray.  That movie has a gag every minute and I try and put 1-2 gags on every page of my book.  Something funny… all killer, no filler.

Now, for the big question Thomas. Should pineapple ever be on a pizza?

No way.  No fish either.

Okay. Definite answer there. No pineapple!

Do you have a favourite joke?

Funny you mention that.  A “dad joke” favorite of mine plays into the main premise of Sharkmaid.  It is “what is a shark’s favorite treat?” 

I don’t know. What’s a shark’s favourite treat?

Dooooooonut. Doooooonut. Donut, donut, donut  – delivered as the theme song from Jaws.  Get it?

Ooo I get it. I still shudder with fear at that tune. But, not at Sharkmaid of course!

Mmm Doughnuts!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot or spirit animal?

A monkey.  You must throw ideas around until something sticks and you can build on it… not unlike a monkey heaves poop.  Hopefully the ideas don’t stink.

Do you have to be in a funny mood to write a funny story or do you use a set technique?

It helps to be silly most of the time.  Like I said, I am a knucklehead and see the humor in most situations all of the time.  I listened to “Nevermind the Bollocks” by the Sex Pistols a lot when sitting down to illustrate the book.  It’s a funny album if you really analyze 90% of it.  Perhaps that put me in the right frame of mind, who knows? 

And finally, what tips would you give anyone looking to write a funny book for kids?

Think of a winning premise and build 3-4 funny situations from there.  Throw ideas around to your target audience and see what they respond to most.  Sometimes, they’ll come back at you with ideas that you can use and expand upon.  Don’t crow-bar ideas that aren’t winners into your story just to be done with it.  Take the proper time to craft a good story and have no regrets when you type “The End”.  When in doubt, leave it out and keep thinking of more ideas.

Great advice Thomas. And, thanks for your time today.

Thank you as well

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