Here are answers to some of the most frequent questions I get about my journey as a writer as well as how Little Gray's Great Migration became a book.
When did you become interested in writing?
Well, back in elementary school I was designing book covers for stories I’d written in the hopes that someday I would be a published author (see below). So I’ve been interested in writing for a long time!
The thing is, I think that if you love reading, you really can’t help but get into writing. Just like I think that if you love animals and nature, you really can’t help but want to protect the environment.
What is the most frequently asked question you encounter as an author and what is your answer?
One question I get is, “How do you decide what to write about?”
This is such a hard question to answer! There are so many weird, funny, surprising, inspiring, unbelievable, and amazing things – especially in nature – that you could write about that would make for great stories.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to explore all the possibilities or you would never have time to actually write. So I like to pick things that I either have a personal connection to in some way or I simply can’t stop thinking about.
The idea for Little Gray’s Great Migration was both. I’d fallen in love with gray whales and whale watching, and then had this idea (from my husband) for a story about a gray whale calf. The next thing I knew, I was reading everything I could about gray whales to where it became an obsession. All that research helped the story develop even more in my mind and there was no turning back from following Little Gray on his migration.
When are you most creative?
I’m my most creative when I’m either bored or out in nature.
Being bored is great, because it opens up space in your brain for new ideas. So the next time you’re bored, think of it as a chance to come up with a really cool story or an art project or a dance or make up a game or whatever you like to do.
When I’m out in nature taking a hike or camping, it opens up space in my brain in the same way. I also think fresh air and quiet are essential ingredients for creative writing, which nature of course has lots of both.
What is most rewarding and/or challenging about writing children’s books?
Writing for kids is an awesome challenge, because you have to make your story super engaging and super short at the same time.
My first draft of Little Gray’s Great Migration was really long: I put so many details and so much science in there. I couldn’t help it! I’d been researching gray whales like crazy and there were so many fascinating things about them I felt I needed to share with readers.
But as I started seriously editing and cutting Little Gray’s Great Migration, the heart of the story surfaced – and the whole thing got much stronger. At the end of the day, you have to write a story where the reader really wants to know what happens next. Then hopefully they’re inspired to learn even more.