Note: My answers may contain some spoilers for the book—please don’t read this if you haven’t finished the book!
Did you intend this book to be about bullying?
Actually, no. When I wrote it, I wasn’t thinking about bullying at all; I never would have described Dexter as a bully. Instead, I was thinking about how kids deal with bad news and hard times, and how they often don’t react the same way adults react—or the way adults expect them to react.
Do you think Dexter is tough?
I think Dexter is resilient, which is a good way of being tough. I think he is trying to be big and strong and mean—“tuf,” you might say--so he doesn’t get hurt. But that doesn’t really work. And it takes him a while to figure out that he is resilient, that he can care about his dad and be sad about his dad’s illness, but still go on.