Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why we write what we write.

People ask me, OFTEN, why I write the kinds of books I do.  And the answer is pretty easy.

I write about weird stuff for two reasons.  First, I love weird stuff.  I always have.  From the time I was a little girl growing up in Friendswood, Texas, I collected all things odd and amazing, from animal skeletons to lizard eggs, to odd stones I found exploring the woods.  I sat in my father's lap watching documentaries like Walter Cronkite's 21st Century.  I lived a life full of wonder.

The second reason I write about weird things is not so different.  Kids still love weird stuff as much as I loved it 45 years ago.  They have as many questions as I did, and I love the idea of helping them find answers. 

I know I'm on track, too.  I don't win a lot of awards, though I would love to.  That's not the feedback that keeps me confident.  It's the reaction of librarians and kids.  Every week, I get letters from kids who love my books and can't wait to tell me.  I also get drawings inspired by my books like this one from April.

After reading ALIEN INVESTIGATION, April wrote to me to tell me how much she loved it.  And she drew her own version of an alien to share with me.  When a 5th grader takes the time to read, write and draw, that's an all around win.

I will write more traditional books like SAVING THE BAGHDAD ZOO and DINOSAUR MUMMIES.  My latest books are two early chapter books for National Geographic, TIGER IN TROUBLE and COURAGEOUS CANINE -- both more traditional.  And kids love those too. 

But writing weird holds a special place in my heart, because when I was little, no one could answer my weird questions.  Are aliens real?  Do UFOs mean us harm?  Is Bigfoot waiting to kill us at our campsites?  They may seem like silly questions to adults.  But thoughts like these kept me up at night as a kid.  And no one would talk to me about them. My books offer well researched evidence to answer those questions -- or at least to help them draw well informed opinions of their own.

We each have our own reasons for writing the books we write, and every one is valid and important.  Because there are kids waiting for the book only you can write.

Get to it, no matter what you decide "IT" should be.


  1. Seriously, are we twins separated at birth? I see the top photo. "Cool! What is it?"

  2. The top photo is a picture of American Anole eggs, Sue. I found one as a kid and thought it was a spider egg -- until I got the rare chance to watch it hatch. When that tiny, capable lizard wriggled out, I was hooked on the odd magic of natural history. One of my favorite all-time moments.


  3. Isn't it amazing that something viable could be so itty bitty? I knew they were eggs but thank you for the scoop on what kind. How fortunate that you've seen them hatch! I may be a bit jealous.