Zap2it: How did a New Jersey kid who grew up fascinated with working with wood become fascinated with building treehouses in particular?
Pete Nelson: At 25, I got a note from my buddy I went to high school with. He included this book that David Stiles wrote, which is great illustrations of how to build forts and treehouses, kid stuff. There were great illustrations of Dad in the backyard with his kids.
I said, “I forgot about treehouses. I love treehouses. I’ve got a tree in my backyard.” I suddenly became obsessed at 25 with treehouses, so I went and built one in my backyard.
Zap2it: What was that first one like?
Pete Nelson: It was this tiny, 4-by-6-foot, with a cute little door going in. It had a fireplace inside, a real brick fireplace. I would work on it, and my wife would yell, “Get in here. This is stupid!”
Zap2it: Did you ever think you’d get your own TV show — premiering May 31 on Animal Planet — in which you get to travel the country, building elaborate treehouses for people?
Pete Nelson: Not in a million years. But I love being the ham and being the TV guy. It’s just too fun. I have no idea what I’m like, because they won’t show me anything.
Zap2it: What is it about treehouses that you find so enchanting?
Pete Nelson: Any way you slice it, treehouses are joyful, positive experiences, building it. And normally you’re in the shade. You could be on a 100-degree day, but you’re in the shade.