"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." More

Author Showcase

Fall 2008 Showcase - A Q&A with Lane Smith

RT: How did the idea for Madam President come about?

Lane: It was June, 2006. I was at the ALA convention in New Orleans; nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina and the area was still in disarray. I was there to talk about John, Paul, George & Ben so I had our founding fathers in my thoughts. I wondered what Washington or Jefferson would have done. This got me to thinking about the massive responsibilities a president has to contend with. I jotted down ideas, and I began with, "A president has many duties…" Of course after several rewrites the tone became lighthearted and comical. My books always turn out that way. But I'm proud to say it also has many sweet moments. A first for me.

RT: Why did you make your hero a girl?

Lane: I didn't want to make a heavy-handed statement about gender — "Girls can be president just like boys!" I thought it would be fun, and have more impact to make the president female and never mention it.

RT: What do you think is a president's most important duty?

Lane: Keeping the peace. Also ordering waffles in an authoritative way

RT: Which executive privilege would you, Lane Smith, most like to have?That veto power is pretty neat.

Lane: If you had a veto stamp of your own, where would you apply it first?

RT: On my income taxes. No more taxes for Mr. Lane!

Lane: Do you have a favorite illustration in the book? What's the story behind it?

RT: I like the page with all the kids going to class and the secret service agent (a cat in sunglasses) is keeping an eye on Madam President from behind a tree. That cat is modeled after our Persian cat, Pretzel. She's a real goofball. Truth be told, she would make a terrible secret service agent. The president would be trying to get through crowds on her way to Air Force One and Pretzel would be in a corner, distracted by a string.

Lane: This is your second book with a presidential subject. What draws you to this topic (pun intended)?

RT: Ha. Good one. I've always loved history but when my wife and I moved to a part of Connecticut rich with Colonial history the subject started to seep into my work.

Lane: What would you do if you were president? Keep in mind naming Jon Scieszka as Ambassador has already been done.

RT: Darn! Someone beat me to it. Has anyone made the Stinky Cheese Man an ambassador? Maybe Ambassador to France? Le Petit Homme De Fromage? The book is dedicated to my wife Molly Leach: Secretary of Design. She designs all my books. If president, I would officially give her that position in my cabinet.

Lane: What do you wish I asked that I didn't?

RT: Lane, is that your real hair? It looks great! In fact, downright presidential?

Website: http://www.lanesmithbooks.com


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