Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Searching for Sasquatch

Hello, everyone! Happy almost autumn! I hope you all had a great summer. I did. I read (but not as much as I said I would), I wrote (put the finishing touches on my first YA novel, out next summer) and I went to the Galapagos. I will write about that amazing trip next month. Before Galapagos I went to New Orleans and ALA where I checked out the most important cultural sites:

and was on a panel with a group of stellar authors. One of them, Kelly Milner Halls, agreed to "sit down" for an interview with me about her latest book IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH, which will be out in a hot minute.

Your website is um, weird, Kelly.

“As a freelance writer, I often got paid for being weird,” she admits. “And it’s still true for many of my books and definitely true for my elementary and middle school visit presentations.”

You told me that with many of your books including IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH you aim to engage reluctant readers. Which I'm sure you do! Where did the book come from? How did it move from an idea to a book?

I wrote a book called TALES OF THE CRYPTIDS in 2006 – an exploration of the evidence for and against the creatures of cryptozoology; mysterious animals that may or may not be real. Many of the legends seemed unlikely to be real, but a few were surprising in that credible evidence did exist to support the possibility of their being true, undocumented new species of animals. Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot, was one of those surprises. I had limited space to share that evidence in CRYPTIDS so I set out to write a new book about it, and Erica Zappy at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt made it possible.

What was your process in researching and writing it?

I had done some great preliminary research for CRYPTIDS so my main aim was to talk to the best experts in the field of investigating Sasquatch. I went to the scientists, including Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, and other credible experts. I read their books, I sat through their lectures, I interviewed them first hand, I mirrored their search techniques and really got a sense of how and why these serious people were searching for Sasquatch.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Knowing what to include and what not to include was the hardest part of writing this book. There are so many elements we didn’t have room to include, in a relatively short book for young readers. I was fascinated by the topic, and I hope that shows in the end product. I hope kids will be as fascinated as I was.

Seems to be a common problem in writing picture books as people have talked about recently here on I.N.K. So what was the most satisfying thing about this project?

When I was a kid, I was one of those squirrel-y kids who asked WAY too many questions. The adults in my life did their best to help me with that curiosity, but answers were hard to come by. The most rewarding part about this book -- and all my books -- is having the license to actually ask the experts, not just for myself, but for all of those kids LIKE me. I do my best to anticipate what THEY might want to know, and reflect that in my final work.

What do you hope for the book?

I love to hear kids tell me they were engaged by the books I’ve written. And I am so lucky that they very, very often do. Kids who don’t normally read get lost in the projects I put together for them, and nothing could be more fulfilling. Our community, the world of children’s writing, is an eyes-open endeavor. We know we may not collect material wealth, beyond having our basic needs met. But we are incredibly rich of heart. What more could anyone want?

Well, that and a country house with a full staff. But maybe that's just me. What’s next for you?

IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH will be released on October 25, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and I am so excited to see how it will be received. But my first fiction work, a YA anthology called GIRL MEETS BOY, will be released by Chronicle in January of 2012. My next nonfiction book, ALIEN INVESTIGATION will be released by Millbrook in April of 2012 and HATCHLINGS: LIFE SIZED BABY DINOSAURS will be released by Running Press, also in April of 2012.

You're a slouch, aren't you, Kelly?

Kelly? You still there?

I guess she's back to work. Go, Kelly, Go! And thanks for talking with all of us here at I.N.K.!

To find out more about Kelly, check out her website.


CC said...

Always enjoy learning about other writers' and artists' work. What better interviewer than a wonderful writer in her own right.
Most interesting and inspirational.

Also enjoy the picture of Kelly and her.....uh....cat? (I know, I know. Just
a bit amazed at that Lizard!!) ;~)

Bigfoot said...

I’ve been looking forward to the release of IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH since I heard about it several months ago. Not to brag, but cryptids ARE fascinating.

I’m also looking forward to any insights ALIEN INVESTIGATION might provide about my friend Morzant the Alien. He’s a strange one.

Sarah Albee said...

Fun interview between two witty and wonderful writers!

Annalisa said...

Love it!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

I can't wait to read this book! I was one of those kids too - I used to stay up late reading all about Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster and such. Then realize, *gulp*, it was 2:00 in the morning, and I was the only one still awake in the house. Brrrrrr. :) e