Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - Empire State Book Festival Nonfiction Panel

On Saturday I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with two other nonfiction authors at the first annual Empire State Book Festival in Albany, NY. Moderated by author Steve Tomecek, Karen Beil (author of FIRE IN THEIR EYES), Alexandra Siy (author of CARS ON MARS and other nonfiction titles) and I discussed our research, photo aquisition, and how we found structure in a true story.

Sitting with dozens of amazing NASA images of Mars, Alexandra explained how she came up with the perfect theme to tie them all together. A long journey from Alaska reminded her that Spirit and the other rover had simply gone on a long road trip so she set up the book to reflect that.

Karen impressed upon the audience how important first person interviews were to bring a fire fighter's experience to a young reader.

And when a physics professor in the audience asked how he could bring his field of study to kids, I suggested that he think about what he would do or say if he were showing a neighbor kid through his lab. As a professional, he knows all the answers. Now he just has to figure out what the questions are. What would kids want to know? How does his work affect or connect with a child's life? Why did he go into that field? What stories can he share?

Thank you to Karen, Alexandra and Steve for a spirited discussion.

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