2011 Interviews : Tim 'Dr. Hope' Anders
Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews
Author, Musician, Silly Guy Tim 'Dr. Hope' Anders
By Kristi Tencarre
I am honored to interview Tim 'Dr. Hope' Anders for Creativity Portal. He has written six children's books, and four books for adults. He has also written and performed on four children's CDs based on his books, all of which are available on his website laughingday.com.
Tim 'Dr. Hope' Anders has a wonderful sense of humour and a big heart that I am confident will resound with our readers. His children's books deliver wonderful life lessons. Alpine Publishing sent me Laughing Day and I have to say it is a book that I can totally see myself using in the classroom. My 18-month-old daughter wanted to read it immediately so we sat down and looked at all the well-illustrated pictures (she's still too young to sit still for more than one word on a page). I left it on the floor in the living room and an hour later she was back there sitting down and looking through the book on her own!
Let's jump right into the interview!
Q. Would you prefer we address you by the name Tim Anders or Dr Hope?
A. Well, my real name is Tim but I write children's books under the pseudonym of Dr. Hope, J.A.P.D. Which, of course, stands for Just A Pretend Doctor. Consider yourself lucky I didn't go with the pseudonym Hank Hardenfardelstardelbarkensen. I can see it now you'd say: "Mr. Hardenfardelstardelbarkensen would you please be serious," to which I would reply, "sure, call me Mr. Serious." Since we are talking mostly about Dr. Hope's books let's go with Dr. Hope. And now that I've got that silliness out of the way, if you ask a serious question, as difficult as it is for me to do so, I will give you a serious answer.
Q. Your mother was a huge inspiration to you from the time you were a child. When did you begin thinking that you would like to write children's books?
A. As a child my mother taught me many valuable lessons. These lessons made it easy to cope with the situations that life threw at us. As I grew up I saw other kids having similar difficulties with their lives, but they were not able to be happy in spite of their situation. I felt that one day it would be a wonderful thing if I could give those types of kids the same tools that had helped me. So to answer your question: I thought about writing a series of children's books for years but never got around to it until about 20 years ago when I started the 'Life Lessons Series' of children's books. Each one of those stories is designed to give kids a head start on life.
Q. How long have you been writing?
A. One of the few things I enjoyed in school was writing. I once wrote a story called: "The Night My House Burnt Down" when I was in the seventh grade. It started something like this: "The night my house burnt down is the most memorable thing I ever forgot. In my excitement I calmly realized that I must get out of there. I ran downstairs barefooted, with my dad's boots on, stepped into an empty bucket, half full of water, and broke my ankle above my knee. "
If the teacher had graded me on spelling and punctuation I would have gotten an F; it was replete with errors. On this day, however, the teacher read the paper to the class, leaving the author anonymous, and had the kids in the class grade the work based on how they liked it. The silliness of the story, along with my fellow students laughter, garnered me an A. Humor and silliness can be a powerful tool against sadness. Because of this I started the 'Silly Series' of children's books. My seventh grade story became the series first story. After I rewrote it, I changed its' name to Little Miss Contradiction and the Fuzzywinkle.
Q. You and your publisher Alpine Publishing have begun a wonderful contest called The Act of Kindness Contest. Teachers and students can win free books just by going out and helping people within your community. When and how were you inspired to start this contest and have you had much participation?
A. In this economy it is no secret that some people are having an extremely rough time. I want, and do, help those people by supporting local charities but I wanted to come up with a way I could help more, given my limited resources. So I thought up the "Act of Kindness" contest as a means to help the needy by getting teachers and kids from all over the country to get involved in their communities.
I have always felt that the joy one receives in helping others is by far one of the most precious feelings a human can have. I want children to experience this joy, so to inspire classrooms of kids to go out and do a selfless act of kindness for those less fortunate than themselves, I came up with an incentive: free books for their classroom. This helps the schools with their budget crisis, the needy in their community, and helps kids learn the joy and value in helping others. We have had some good things happen because of our contest but I would like to see far more communities participate. I'm hopeful that this interview will get more people aware of the contest and thereby increase the number of participants.