Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Turn For The Next Big Thing

If you read Tanya Lee Stone’s INK blog in February, you know about The Next Big Thing. If you didn’t or if you forgot, it’s is an author blog tour. Each week a different author answers specific questions about his or her upcoming book. The answers are posted on authors’ blogs. Then we get to tag another author. On and on it goes.
I was tagged by Nina Kidd, member of my local critique group. She was tagged by Julie Williams. My tags are at the end.
And just in time because….  I’ve got a new book!
What is the title of your book?

The Wind at Work: An Activity Guide to WindmillsSecond Edition Revised and Expandedpublished by Chicago Review Press. For more on how I wrote the second edition click on one of my previous INK blog posts. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Way back in the mid-nineties, just when I started writing for children, I wanted to explore renewable energy.  Can’t remember why, but I chose wind energy and found a fascinating history of windmills that included not just the machines themselves, but the intriguing cultures of windmillers. They had their own idioms, jokes, folk tales, “signal codes,” and more.

What genre does your book fall under?

Nonfiction: part historical, part contemporary environmental, from middle grade to YA. Each chapter includes activities that can be performed at a younger or more advanced level.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

And Ed Begley, Jr., Mr. Green himself, could be a wind turbine!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
1000 years of windmills: how they created a country, powered an industrial revolution, watered the American west, and offer a bright energy future.

Is your book represented by an agency?

I found Chicago Review Press on my own. They published the first edition back in 1997 and it has been in print for fifteen years! I can’t praise them enough. They have reprinted the book over and over, and were keen to do an updated edition. As well as the paper edition, they are publishing the new edition in three ebook formats: Kindle, epub, and pdf. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I had published short stories in Cricket and Spider, but The Wind at Work was my first book. These days a book can take me years to write, but as a naïve newbie I plowed through it in about three months, as I recall. The activities, all the appendices, and photo research took a few more months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Chicago Review Press has published dozens of history/activity books similar to The Wind at Work. Friends of the Earth: A History of American Environmentalism by Pat McCarthy is a nice complement to my book.  I’d also like to recommend The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.  This is the amazing story of a young African boy who built himself a wind turbine. It’s out in a YA/adult version  and a picture book.  Both tell a terrific story in very different ways.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My interest in renewable energy got me going on the first edition. After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster I contacted Cynthia Sherry, Chicago Review Press publisher, thinking that we’d have renewed interest in renewables. Cynthia reported that they were near to selling out the latest reprinting, and so I went to work. The difference between 1997 and today?  This time I did all the text and photo research online

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Check out the activities. I had so much fun with them. They range from science experiments to cooking, singing, writing, drawing, collage-ing, saving energy at home, researching local environmental issues, finding out how your politicians vote, and becoming a local activist. You can also plan a Global Wind Day celebration (June 15). There’s something for everyone here.

Now for the lucky taggee: Susan Kuklin

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