According to K.A. Applegate

These were monthly columns that were held by Scholastic. Fans would send in questions to K.A. Applegate, and the Official Website would post them at the end of month with K.A's reply. Fans could either send their letters to K.A through an email form or through snail mail at:

K.A. Applegate, c/o Scholastic, 555 Broadway, New York, N.Y., 10012.

June 1998


My name is Doc. Well that's my screen name. I heard you were going to stop doing Animorphs after doing book #37 I forget what book I heard will be you're last book, but why are you going to stop making Animorphs when a whole lot of people buy your books?

Who comes up with this stuff? I have no idea at this point how long ANIMORPHS will go on. I've so far signed up for a total of 30 regular books and like 10 or so longer forms, but that's just where it is today. As long as enough people are reading ANIMORPHS, and as long as I can still put out decent work, ANIMORPHS will continue. How long is that? Don't know. MEGAMORPHS #2 was a huge seller, so I guess lots of people are still reading. And I've been pretty happy with (most of) the books I've written recently, so it looks good.


I have every Animorphs book (1-18) Megamorphs 1 and 2 and the Andalite Chronicles. I love your books and I'd like to ask a few questions:
1 How do you get your ideas for your books?
2 How did you choose your publisher?
3 At most, how many Animorph books are you going to write? Megamorphs?
4 What happened to Arbron after Elfangor left?
5 How many hours a day do you write?
6 What's the key to being a sucsessful writer?
--A. Rooks

1) I wish I knew. Ideas don't come from anywhere, they just sort of appear.
2) I wanted the number one kid's book publisher, and, in particular, the number one series publisher. Scholastic had done GOOSEBUMPS and BABYSITTERS CLUB, the Godzilla and King Kong of series.
3) Don't know exactly, but lots and lots.
4) You know, I was thinking about Arbron the other day. My thinking went something like this: "Oh, man! I've agreed to do something called THE TAXXON CHRONICLES. What the heck was I thinking? How am I gonna do a book about cannibalistic worms? I mean, who's my hero? I am toast. I am lost! Oh, woe is me!" Or something like that. Then, it occurred to me: Arbron! What ever happened to Arbron? Now, that would be a story.
5) I hate to answer this because sometimes I have to pretend to be terribly overworked. But in terms of hardcore sitting at the keyboard and writing, I maybe do 3 hours a day. But you know, for every 3 hours of writing I need at least 3 hours of thinking and research, 3 hours of shopping and another 3 hours of complaining about one thing or another. That's a very full day.
6) Have a good imagination, have a bit of self-discipline, a bit of talent, a very thick skin, comfortable clothing and relatives who'll loan you money.


I love your books! I've read every single one! I have a few questions.
#1 Why does Marco tease Rachel all the time?
#2 Why does Ax go crazy for food? Did Elfangor do that too?
#3 Do you like cats? I do.
Please answer.

1) Well, sometimes boys are that way. I think Marco just cares more about a funny line than he does about much of anything else.
2) Imagine if you didn't have a mouth and never had. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, you have taste buds! You'd go crazy, too.
3) I have two cats. I like them both, although they are very different. Rabbit, my black Manx, is as sweet a kitty as there is. But Dick (the evil foot-biting cat) is, well, an evil foot-biting cat.


Dear K.A.A.,
Could you maybe have book when the Animorphs go into space to get alien morphs? It would be so cool cause then they would have some morphs that could beat Visser Three's morphs. If they went to Ax's Homewrold they could bring an army to Earth.

I think that's a great idea. I really do. Maybe I'll do just that.


My name is Sam. I have a few questions that are very important to know. Is there ever going to be a conclusion to animorphs? If so, when will it come out? Also is there ever going to be an other member of the group. If so, I hope I'm it, but that is your choice. I hope that the Animorphs are still going to be here forever. You have the neatest ideas for the Animorphs series. I hope that you can write back, but sadly I don't have a computer yet -- so I hope you can make a question page for the ones that do not have computers to e-mail back to. Well I have to go. I hope the success of Animorphs will continue.

It's a good question. I suppose at some point we'll end the series, and when that happens I would want to write something resolving all the questions. As for other members of the group, well, for me to give a complete answer to that would reveal some surprises I have planned. And we don't want to ruin surprises, do we?
By the way, just so you know, answers get posted right here online for everybody to read; they're not sent back via e-mail.


Dear K.A.,
I have read all of the Animorphs books and there is something I do not understand. In Animorphs number 11 Sario Rips are introduced. They are also in Megamorphs number 2. What I don't understand is this: whenever they go through one they get cool new morphs, but when they come back through they don't have those morphs anymore. It would have been cool to have them attack the Yeerks in T-rex and Deinonychus morphs. Why and how do they lose their morphs when they go through the rip again?
-- Doug

Doug, Doug, Doug. Are you asking me to reveal deep, dark secrets of Andalite physics? Do you honestly expect me to just lay out the pages and pages of calculations, all the pluses and minuses, the base sixes and nines, the negative numbers and, you know, those little squiggly lines and all the pi's (squared or not) and whatnot it would take to explain the entire matter? Let's hope not, Doug, because let's face it, I'm lucky to figure out a 20% tip without a calculator.


Hi I have some questions. Please reply.
1.Is Jake from an Andalite family?
2.How is Tobias a son of Elfangor?
3.How did the Andalites get the morphing technology?
4.Why does the Elimist keep stopping time?

Dear AX89,
1) Not as far as I know.
2) You'll have to read ANDALITE CHRONICLES to learn about that.
3) They invented it.
4) I guess because he can. Haven't you ever wanted to stop time? Or speed it up?


Dear K.A.,
My name is Matt, and I am 10 years old. I wanted to know, can Andalites stay in morph as long as they want? I wanted to know that because the Animorphs can only stay in morph for 2 hours.

Matt, the two-hour limit is the same for human or Andalite. Stay more than two hours and you stay forever.


Dear K.A.,
What color is Andalite blood? Because in 'ANDALITE CHRONICLES" Elfangor's friend said "red blood .....Ewwwww". I'd appreciate it if you can tell me.

Dear Ricky58, I hate to admit it, Ricky, but I just don't know. That's something I don't believe I ever decided. So I guess you can imagine any color you like.


Dear K.A.,
I am doing a project in school where I have to write an essay about my future wishes. I chose to be a writer. I have to interwiew writers for information. What kind of training did you need? What is life like as a writer? What are the pros and cons of being one? Please, please, puh-leese answer. It is hard to find information.
-- Teddy

Hmmm, training as a writer. Well, nothing formal in my case. I have a college degree and I suppose that plus my high school English are helpful when it comes to spelling and punctuation. Beyond that, though, I guess the best training for a writer is to be a reader. The more you read the better. I wish I read more than I do. You literally cannot read a book that doesn't teach you something, no matter how minor, about writing. Adult book, kid's book, mystery, science fiction, literary novel, classic, it doesn't matter: if you read and pay attention you'll learn something about writing.
Life as a writer is different for different writers. Lots of writers have writing as a sideline. They may teach or hold some other job and write on the side. Some writers are rich, other writers may spend their whole lives trying to earn a living in writing. Some writers, like TV writers for example, write in group settings, while other writers are extremely isolated.
For me personally, writing is great. I'm not a very social person, so I love the isolation and privacy. No bosses in the typical sense of the word, although I have editors who are wonderful to work with. On the other hand, working alone means you have to be disciplined. No one is there telling you to do your work, you just have to do it. There's also no one to pat you on the back and say "good job." As a series writer, you usually get the first fan reactions a full year after you've written the book. So again, you're sort of on your own.
Then again, all that privacy means you can have a work wardrobe that consists entirely of sweat pants and T-shirts.
So I guess if you're a person who values independence, is self-disciplined and motivated, doesn't mind having no one to "talk shop" with, doesn't mind huge and often arbitrary obstacles to success, can tolerate the uncertainty of never knowing what you'll make or even whether you'll get paid at all, writing is a great career.
And you know what? If you really love to write, all the obstacles and uncertainty in the world won't keep you from pursuing your dream.
Good luck, whatever you decide to be.


Dear K.A. Applegate,
I love Animorphs! (I'll bet everyone says that) I want to know if you are ever going to write another book concerning the one-eyed machine on the throne that the Ellimist is fighting. Maybe you could have Jake and the gang transported to where he is and have them fighting him or trying to find out about him (his weaknesses, etc.). I would like to know how to pronounce these names (just in case):

Okay, easy part first:
a) VISS-er, rhymes with "kisser."
b) Hork like "dork" and buh-JEER like, um, like, uhhhh, buh-JEER.
c) Mak like "Mack."
d) Ss-TRAM, to rhyme with "gram."
e) LEER-un.
f) TAX-on.
As for the Big Red Eye, the B.R.E. is what I call a "seed." Sometimes I stick something in a book without really knowing what it's going to end up being. I have an instinct it'll be useful later on, but I don't know for sure. The B.R.E. is such a seed. That was in book six. Then I think I referenced it in ANDALITE CHRONICLES because by then I was thinking, "You know, this Ellimist guy needs someone to rough him up a bit." You will be pleased to know that the B.R.E. will feature in a big way in an upcoming book. He/it even has a name. Which I ain't telling.


Dear K.A.,
Can you please answer these questions? What are the names of the Andalite, Yeerk, and Hork-Bajir home worlds? What is the red eye that Jake sees in #6? What caused the mansion to burn down in #16? Do Elimists have a home world? How do ships get into zero-space? And who are Visser Two and Visser Four?
Your #1 fan, Harns

Dear Harns:
I kind of operate on the theory that every race thinks at first that they are alone in the universe, so they call their planet the equivalent of home. Or "our planet". Just as we don't call Earth "Human-world" or "Homo sapiens town" or whatever. I guess I'm assuming that whatever these various races call their planets it would basically be "Earth" in their own dialect. So I call them "home worlds."
Also, that's easier than coming up with names.
The Big Red Eye question is answered above. (Boy, who knew you guys would pay such close attention to the B.R.E.?)
The rest of your questions I can't answer. Literally can not. See, I don't know who (if anyone) burned down the mansion. I left it a mystery and I like it that way. I haven't figured out the whole Ellimist backstory. Maybe some day I can do an ELLIMIST CHRONICLES, and then I'll have the fun of figuring it all out. Vissers Two and Four? Don't know. Yet. And as for getting into Z-space, well sure, I could answer that, but I don't want to bore you with a lot of equations and so on.


I know you have a lot to do, but please answer these questions
1. Why could Jake in number one thinkspeak to Tobias when he was not in morph?
2. Will Tobias ever learn that Elfangor is his dad?
3. Will anyone else be trapped in a morph like Tobias and Arbron were?
4. Will they ever morph wolverines?

Thankyou for your time -- oh, and I love your books.
your #1 fan

Dear Ryan:
1) Man, you make one little mistake and you never hear the end of it! The answer is very simple: I screwed up writing the scene. It happens, I'm afraid.
2) Could very well be (she said, not confirming it for sure, but definitely hinting.)
3) Could also very well be (she said, hinting some more.)
4) Hmmm, I hadn't thought about wolverines, but now I have. Maybe so. Let me think about that.


Dear Ms. Applegate,
I think it is amazing how you write your books! WOW! I do have a couple questions for you:
1) How many books do you plan to write?
2) Why did you decide to make Cassie leave the group?
3) If Cassie is leaving, where are the Animorphs going to get most of their morphs?
4) I know you're son's name is Jake, my brother said your daughter's name was Rachel. Is this true?
5) Where do you get the Animorphs' name's?
I know you get a lot of the same questions over and over, and you probably get a lot better questions then these, so you don't have to write back because I know you're busy answering fan mail and stuff. I just e-mailed you for the heck of it. Oh by the way, I've read 1-18, Megamorphs 1 and The Andalite Chronicles. I am really close to finding <Megamorphs 2>. It is really hard to find in Alabama.
Your VERY best reader

Dear VERY best reader:
1) At least 36. That's the number I am under contract for. I suspect there'll be more.
2) Do you really want me to spoil #19 for you? (Say no because, see, I don't want to give away too many plots in advance.) I can, however drop a hint by saying that Cassie is the heart of the Animorphs and I can't imagine getting by without her.
3) See above.
4) That might be true except for one serious problem: I don't have a daughter. And, incidentally, I did not name my son after Jake. I just liked the name.
5) I got the names for the Animorphs out of baby name books. It was a very scientific process that involved sitting around, watching TV and muttering, "Marco? I don't know. Do I like the sound of that?" Also, you always have to begin by eliminating any name associated with any person you know and don't like or don't want to have to think about. Which I guess explains why none of the kids are named "Paulie Shore."


Dear KAA
Hi! I'm Mike. First, I just want to tell you how your web page is so seriously COOOOOL!!!!!!! But, I'm kinda pressured for space here, so I'll get to the point. First, you mentioned earlier, there's gonna be a new Animorph, right, a boy. I was wondering if he got the morphing power from Elfangor (a previous landing mabey?) or from somewhere else. Second, you showed Ax not knowing about toilets, etc... but you also had "the toilet from outer space" and"two clumps of dung stuck to his hoof". What's up with that? Also, I was wondering if the Animorphs will ever go into space (except #18) and if #6's eyeball "plays a dark game", you know what I mean?... Well, thanks so much for your time.
Mike (no last name, the Yeerks are amoung us)

Hi, Mike:
Okay, can't talk about the "new Animorph" in any specific way. Top Secret! Shhhh! Not telling. You can't make me.
Ax would not understand the need for a toilet under normal circumstances. He's from a herd species, after all. But of necessity, he'd understand the notion of such a thing on a spacecraft.
Absolutely the kids will be spacing again. It's fun to write, so absolutely. As for the Big Red Eye (Again with the B.R.E.! That guy should have his own fan club) I discuss him/it/she/they at length above.


Dear K.A. Applegate,
I love your books! I'm one of the only people my age (13) who reads your books, but they are the best. I love how well you write teenage personalities. Okay, down to business: Will Jake and Cassie ever kiss? They are my two favorite characters, and I love their relationship. I just think you should expand on it a little more, instead of just throwing in a comment here and there. PLEEEEEASE!! A little more focus should be put on them. Also, why have we not seen any female andalites and/or other aliens? They're all males. Thanks for listening to me, and continue your wonderful work!
Your devoted Cassie/Jake fan,
P.S.- I hope I'm as good a writer as you someday.

Huh? Jake and Cassie have romantic feelings for each other? Wow, I totally missed that.
Okay, seriously, don't you think Jake and Cassie have enough to worry about without having to deal with dating? Let alone kissing? I like their relationship, too. You know what's cool? I've never gotten a letter or e-mail (as far as I know) from anyone objecting to the fact that it is an interracial relationship. If I'd written this back when I was your age (millions of years ago) I'd have hate mail and death threats piling up everywhere. I remember that the first interracial kiss ever shown on TV was on the original Star Trek and stations all over the south boycotted. See? Things do get better sometimes.
As for a female Andalite . . . she's coming soon to a Chronicles near you!


Hi Ms. Appelgate!
I would like to express my deepest thanks in creating The Animorphs series. At first I thought you were another R.L Stine, churning out books every week with no plot, content or diversity what-so-ever. I read The Invasion, and from when you described Elfangor, I was hooked! I've read 1-18 including Chronicles and MM1 (waiting for 2 in anticipation!) Your books have amazing content, not too advanced so young kids wouldn't understand you, but advanced enough so kids my age (13) would understand it and find the content intriguing and well thought out. You always put quality in to your books and that's what I admire most about you!
Now for my question:
Do you have to be in a whole different state of mind when writing for different characters? I mean, Jake, the role model, the leader, you'd have to be in a good mood, but you'd have to think serious thoughts. For Marco on the other hand, you'd have to be in a good mood, maybe look on the internet for a couple of jokes to throw in. That kind of stuff. Ax-how do you make it seem like he's an Alien talking English. I've tried that before (I love writing stories. You inspired me :) but somehow it always had an "artificial flavoring" to it. Meaning that the alien never seemed quite alien if you know what I mean. He seemed much more human than anything else.
So that's my question! I've been trying to get you to answer that question for months, but I got no reply! Please answer me, if just a few words, but please do.
Thank you,

Dear Daniel:
First of all, thanks for the kind words. You asked a very good question. I only wish I had a very good answer.
Writing in such a way that characters sound distinct and different is something I try to do, but often fail at doing. It takes a sort of concentration I can't always maintain. And it's easier with some characters than with others. For example, it's easy to do Marco, but harder to do Cassie (since the characterization's more subtle.)
Mostly I think it has to do with the content of what a character says. In other words, it's not "how" but "what" the person says that makes them distinct. We know that Marco likes a joke, and that Rachel has a short fuse, and that Jake will tend to weigh things carefully when he has the time or snap out orders in an emergency. So giving your characters different attitudes and philosophies ends up making them "sound" different.
Of course in many cases, the characters aren't discussing an issue that really allows me to show a difference in content. Then it's down to pure style. With Ax, I try to give his speech just the slightest off tone. Just a little bit like a person for whom English is a second language. He is less likely to use slang or idiomatic expressions, and this makes his speech somewhat more formal.
In order to carry the right "sound" through a chapter or scene, I do sort of try to feel like the character I'm writing. It's like a kind of low-key acting, I guess. If I'm writing Rachel, I imagine that I'm feeling impatient and keyed up. If I'm doing Ax, I see myself as standing apart, not fitting in, a half step behind the others in following a conversation. Tobias requires a certain sadness. Writing Jake, I try to make myself feel burdened, worried. And for Cassie the tone I'm looking for is sure of what I believe, but not sure of myself. Marco is easiest because his sort of skeptical, "yeah, right" attitude is fun to write.
Now, in your case, I have one big piece of advice: it gets easier with practice. For the first few books it was hard for me to even try to give individual sounds to the characters. It was around book #4 that I felt I started getting it down. So don't worry it if it's hard at first. Just write another few hundred pages. It gets easier.


Hi "KAA"
1. Why do you sign every thing as"KAA"?
2. Have you dicided whether you are going to write the Visser Chonicles or not?
3. Will any one morph a lion?
-- Garrett (its my real name, funny isn't it)

Dear Garrett:
1) Because it's shorter than typing Katherine Alice Applegate
2) I have decided, and yep, I'm gonna.
3) Funny you should ask. Yes. But not the person you think. (How's that for vague?) And we may get an answer to the age-old question first posed by Socrates: in a fight between a tiger and a lion who, like, rules?
4) Actually, I like the name Garrett.


Hi K.A.!
I'm Oren from Israel. I'm 13 years old. I wanted to ask you: if the Animorphs can acquire animal D.N.A., why can't they acquire human D.N.A? I'll be very glad if you will answer me.

Dear Oren:
Israel? Cool. I didn't know the books had made it there.
The answer is that the Animorphs can acquire human DNA. In one book --#7? I can never remember the titles or numbers -- anyway, the book about the kid who was definitely NOT Jonathon Taylor Thomas -- Cassie acquired Rachel. Didn't she? (Good grief, I guess it's not just the numbers and titles I can't remember; my entire brain is going.)
However, there is, in my view, a moral issue involved with morphing other humans, so the kids generally don't do it.


Dear KA,
I was wondering, why in book 18 did Ax automatically asume that Visser Three had been to the Andalite homeworld when he had a bird morph from there? Didn't you say in an earlier book that when a yeek takes control of a host, it controls all it's functions-including passed morphs? So Visser Three could have had that morph simply because the Andalite that he has control over (whose name I can't remember) simply had the morph from before he was infested. I recall reading in the Andalite Chronicles that young Andalites morphed birds for fun, which would suggest even more that The Visser has never been to the Andalite home world. Why would Ax, who can probably master eveything from sewing to Brain Surgery not think of the obvious in a very important situation? You tell me.
From Crissy

Dear Crissy:
Ummm. Hmm. Well . . . uh, that would be because of the fact that while Ax is very smart, certain human authors are not. Darn. Messed up again.

According to K.A. Applegate
1998 - [ June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec ]

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