Nature and science author Sneed B. Collard III is part of the Nonfiction Author Panel on Tuesday, May 1 at the IRA Annual Convention. He discusses the transition from marine biologist to author as well as how the field of publishing nonfiction is changing in this interview with Reading Today.
Reading Today: What got you interested in writing books for children and/or young adults?
Sneed Collard: By the time I finished my marine biology degree at U.C. Berkeley, I’d come to the realization that there were already enough scientists to “save the world.” There weren’t, however, enough people communicating the vast knowledge scientists had accumulated. I first felt motivated to write science as a way to educate people about the sheer wonder of our planet, and how we needed to change our activities to protect it. I thought that children were the logical place to start. Children, after all, exude curiosity and they naturally understand the importance of protecting what’s around us. When I began writing, though, I also discovered that I just loved the writing process, and that my writing voice was very much compatible with young audiences of all ages. Although I do frequently write for adults, my real passion is conveying information and telling stories to younger readers, whether they are just cracking their first books or pursuing the throes of teenaged interests.
RT: What do consider your best book to date and why?
SC: A tough question because I’ve written so many types of books and for so many ages. As far as my older/middle-grade science, I’d say The Prairie Builders and Monteverde—Science and Scientists in a Costa Rican Cloud Forest. Both of these broke new ground in presenting original information to children, and I think my passion for the topics comes through. As far as my younger science books, I’d have to go with Wings, which not only features some of my best prose, but spectacular art from Robin Brickman. As for my novels, I’d have to say Double Eagle and my newest mystery Hangman’s Gold. I especially enjoyed the research for these two thrillers, spending many days on Dauphin Island, Alabama and in the Montana ghost town of Bannack, where the books take place.
RT: What can attendees at IRA Chicago expect to hear from you?
SC: In my panel with Jim Murphy, I plan to focus on two main topics. One is the background story and process I use to create some of my newest non-fiction books including “Lizards”, Global Warming, and The World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. I’ll place special emphasis on how the nature of a topic influences my research strategy for the book. The second theme I plan to explore is how the changing publishing climate is impacting the quality and availability of non-fiction children’s books, how authors are responding, and what that might mean for the future.
Learn more about Collard on this website and on the Charlesbridge website and on his . For more information about the 2012 IRA Annual Convention in Chicago from April 29 to May 2, visit www.iraconvention.org.
Sneed Collard Will Be There…Will You?