Why did you want to do a children's book (You're Different and That's Super)?
I had the idea even before the whole TV thing took off. But after the show got so big and after the first book [Kressley's style book for adults, Off the Cuff] did well, I went to ICM and told them that I wanted to do the children's book. I told them that it was not about making money; I just really wanted to do it. The success of Queer Eye has allowed me the opportunity to pursue things like this that are important to me and, unbelievably, people have been saying, 'Sure' when I ask.
What was your inspiration for this story?
It's a little semi-autobiographical in that I had grown up outside Allentown, Pa., where my grandparents raised ponies. We often spent time on their farm, and since my brother and sister were six and eight years older than I was, they didn't want me around much. So I didn't really have friends to hang out with. I sort of hung out with the ponies.
And, when you're a kid who stands out for whatever reason, you kinda know you're different. In my case, I was terrible at sports; I was always making over people on the playground. I figured, "Hmmm, something's not right here."
Did you have your own issues with being different?
Well, when puberty hits, around eighth grade, and those hormones are raging, lots of kids gets picked on and called names. But I was fortunate. Many kids who don't have the coping mechanisms will withdraw and become a loner. I was lucky because I was used to using my sense of humor as a defense. I figured if I could keep them laughing I wouldn't get beat up.
What do you hope kids will take away from this book?
I think the message is simple: being different, whether it's physical, or in any other way, can be great. The book celebrates diversity and lets people know that the things they think are a curse can sometimes be a blessing.
Do you ever want to flaunt your success to those who ridiculed you back in high school?
Well... sure. There are times when I wish I could say to those kids who were in the back of the bus sneaking a smoke and listening to heavy metal: 'Hey, guess what? I was hanging out last night with Tommy Lee and the drummer from Ratt. So there!' Or tell the kids from gym class: 'I worked out with [Boston Red Sox stars] Johnny Damon and Tim Wakefield. Jealous much?'