Yes, it’s true. I have always loved concept books. ABCs, one-two-threes, reds yellows blues, you name a concept book – chances are, I loved it.
My first young adult novel, Cadillac Chronicles (Cinco Puntos Press, 2012) tells the story of sixteen-year-old Alex Riley and an ornery old man speeding south in a Cadillac. Alex wants two things: to find his father and a girlfriend with a decent set of breasts. Lester, an old man with an old man’s personality, just wants his freedom. On their wild ride, they both discover what it means to—finally—find a real friend.
Why do I write about science and nature for young readers? Easy answer. It’s FUN! But making scientific facts fun to read about is a challenge, especially in our modern world filled with iPods, iPads, smart phones, video games, and any number of other electronic distractions. I try to use storytelling techniques to grab my audience.
I knew that turning math workouts into life-or-death challenges was the way to engage young readers. Plus I had an ideal sounding board in the form of my boy-girl twins, one of whom loves math and the other who is the bookworm (I won’t say which is which).
I am deeply moved by the fact that we are nature, that we are stardust and I wanted my new book, You Are Stardust (Owlkids, 2012), to have a lyrical, celebratory, and poetic feel. Yet, finding that voice was difficult.
Books are often inspired by moments of magic. I will never forget an encounter I had with Granny, the one-hundred-year-old matriarch of the clan of endangered orcas that lives in Pacific Northwest waters. I was on a whale-watching boat when Granny swam alongside, raised her head above water and looked directly into my eyes for several moments.