Yours is a small genre--children's book cartoons. Do you have a great rivalry with the underpants guy?
I take comedy very seriously, and I feel very competitive. But not with Captain Underpants in particular.
Maurice Sendak said he didn't intend to write for children. Did you?
I labored for eight years thinking I was writing a book for adults that was a nostalgic look back on childhood. Then my publisher informed me I'd written a children's book.
How did you take the news?
It took me a few minutes to get over the shock, but my sensibilities are G-rated anyway. Some of the best comedy writing is in Pixar movies.
Your third movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, is upon us. Did you get a little thrill when the second Wimpy movie did better than the non-G-rated films it opened with?
When it opened at No. 1, I was happy. Most children's fare has huge budgets, and it's 3-D and CGI. These are really ordinary stories with actors. It's very cool that people like these movies.
You've said you think you might have undiagnosed ADD?
If I were put into a college lecture hall right now and told to pay attention for 45 minutes, it would be physically impossible for me to do. I'm one of those people who believe that ADD is a gift. It's tough to manage, but if you can harness it, you can do great things with it.
Were you a wimpy kid?
I was an average kid who had his wimpy moments. On our swim team, they had something called the developmental meet. I didn't know that it was a meet only for the worst kids so that they could get a ribbon, and I'd show up with my friend who was also a terrible swimmer, and we would be amazed that the best kids hadn't bothered to show up. I didn't get it until after college.
As a Cub Scoutmaster, what's your take on the Boy Scouts' policy of banning gay scoutmasters and members?
I think the policy has no place in scouting, which values inclusiveness. The policy needs to change, and I'd like to be a part of bringing that about.
You're writing a seventh book. How's it going? Is Greg becoming a wimpy adult?
The DNA of my characters is in comic strips, and the best cartoon characters never get older, so Greg will be frozen in a sort of a preadolescent amber forever. I feel like middle school is the last moment where a kid can actually be a kid, and it's a really fertile area for comedy. But that makes it harder to write. Something that has always interested me is how a band or a writer or an artist seems to have that spark and then it's gone. Is that because they get lazy or because they only have it for so long?
You have sold 75 million books. When you go to parties and you meet famous writers who sell, say, 25,000 books, what do they say?
When I go to a comics convention, I feel like a fraud because I never broke into newspapers, and when I go to a book convention, I feel like a fraud because I don't feel like I'm a real author, so I think I'm in this strange middle category. I don't think other authors think of me as a peer.
You live in Plainville, Mass. Do you think you may be taking this ordinary-guy shtick a little too far?