On Manzo'd With Children Season 2, we witnessed Chris Manzo puruse a completely different career path as he decided he wanted to pen a children's book. Last week, Chris' debut book Oliver Brightside: You Don't Want that Penny hit shelves, and The Daily Dish caught up with the youngest Manzo to learn all about the experience. Could there be a sequel in his future?
Congratulations on your book hitting shelves! How are you feeling?
Chris Manzo: I don’t know what I was expecting, but it’s fun. It’s like your birthday. You wake up thinking that everything’s going to be magical, but it’s really just another day.
How did you get to the point of writing a book? What was your inspiration?
It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m obsessed with anything imagination-based. Whether it be children’s books or superheroes. I’ve never really grown up in terms of entertainment — reading, watching movies, and things like that. I’ve always said one day I’ll just do it.
We saw last season that you had a bit of an awkward experience at a library while conducting research. Did you have any other weird encounters like that throughout the process?
That was the weirdest thing, and that’s happened at more than one library. Now it’s funny because since it aired libraries have reached out to me, like, "You can come hang here!"
I send anything that I write to kids. I either send it to someone who’s very versed in the literary world or kids. Those are the only two kinds of people whose approval I seek, so it’s a cool process because it’s two completely different opinions and more often than not, it’s the three, four, five-year-olds who have an opinion you would never even think of.
Is writing something that you're going to continue to do? Do you see yourself making a career out of writing?
Yeah, I’ve made the decision myself to dedicate the next couple of years of my life to just worrying about books. I think moving forward I want to do longer types of things, like middle school novels. That’s my goal right now — to do an actual novel. Something with little illustration. Something that could be like summer reading. I’m excited to challenge myself and try new things.
Can you tease me your next project?
I have something in mind, but I can’t tell you!
We have to bring up the car wash-stripper business idea you had. How would you say you’ve grown since then?
A lot, in a lot of different ways, too. I think what people forget is I’m only 26. So, that was eight years ago, I was 18. That was the first thing I shot on TV. I did the reverse of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” thing. When you’re younger, you shoot high and say, “I want to write a children’s book,” then eventually find yourself working in a business. Whereas I always wanted to be a business person my entire life and I ended up going into more creative things. It’s not something I want to do now and honestly it has nothing to do with the faux pas of it or it being controversial. Frankly, I have no desire to be a true businessperson anymore. That was something that if it weren’t on TV I would have forgotten about by now. It was never a true ambition, but since it was caught on camera I get reminded of it. It’s funny to me, I think it’s hilarious, because it’s a pretty cool thing to be able to look back at myself 10 years ago. Career-wise I have no plans to do it, but looking back on it is pretty funny.
What's your favorite children's book?
I've always, always loved Curious George. If I were ever to pick something as a true inspiration for what made me love the genre of children's books and cartoons and positive messages, Curious George would be the first thing I point to.
How much did your family help you with writing or editing your book?
Not one bit. They get mad at me! It’s something that I keep very private. Not for any reason — my biggest thing is my family is obviously very interesting, very funny, very hands on. I can’t have outside influences, even if they’re good. This is what I love. Part of what attracted to me to writing is that it’s mine.
Take a look back at Chris' early days, below.