Like his characters Kevin and Max, author Rodman Philbrick has different names for different purposes. When he is writing thrillers like Hunger (1992) and Pulse (1999), he is William R. Dantz, and he has published crime novels under the pen name of W. R. Philbrick. However, despite the author's shifting identities and genres, Freak the Mighty (Philbrick’s first book for young readers) is anchored in reality. It was inspired by his encounters with a boy who had Morquio’s Syndrome (the disease Kevin suffers from in the novel) and a large, protective friend. The novel is set in the area of New Hampshire where Philbrick grew up and where the previous ten generations of his family have lived.
While his later work has won awards (drawing him attention) and been filmed (bringing him money), Philbrick wrote for quite some time before achieving real success, authoring ten novels before one of them was published. During those years, he worked as a longshoreman and ran a boatyard with a friend.
Philbrick published a sequel to Freak the Mighty called Max the Mighty in 1998. That same year, a film version of Freak the Mighty titled just The Mighty was released.