Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Something About the Author

Volume 228 of SATA (Something About the Author) Gale Publications, a reference book of children’s book authors and illustrators, is scheduled to be published in July; the online version will be available a month or so later.  It includes an updated entry for me and my books, prepared by the SATA editors.  As I previewed the copy, I was impressed with the thoroughness of the research and completeness of the entry.  It is a long way from the first entry about me in SATA, Volume 28, published in 1984, which featured a photo of a very young looking me and an illustration from my second book, Electric Fish (Morrow, 1980).

In 1987, I was asked to contribute a biographical essay for the SATA Biography Series, Volume 23.  This was my first time to reflect on my career at length. (I had 10,000 words to play with, which seemed like a lot at first, but really only allowed me to cover the high points.)  The timing of the essay was ideal.  I had just published my 100th book (African Animals, Morrow 1997) and was feeling amazed at my good fortune of having made a career out of something I loved.  In my final paragraph I wrote:
This essay has provided me with the opportunity to look back over what I have accomplished, but it is also a time to look forward.  I hope to continue to write about subjects I love, including natural science and ancient cultures.  I would also like to do more writing for younger children.  Although I have not had much time to write fiction recently, I would like to do more of that and perhaps even get back to doing some illustration.  Perhaps in the future I will have the chance to do some writing for CD-ROMS and the new electronic media.  No one has a crystal ball to see in to the future.  Each project is a new adventure and often leads to opportunities not yet imagined.  The dilemma is not what to do next, but how to choose which of many paths to follow.

As I read that paragraph now, I marvel at how much has happened in the fourteen years since it was written.  I HAVE done more writing for younger children, published two fiction books, and reestablished myself as an illustrator.  But the real changes have been in the electronic world.  Again, we need a crystal ball to know where that is leading us.  Meanwhile, though, I continue writing with the confidence that there will always be a place in the world for good books for children.

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