Coming Soon to an Online Bookstore Near You -- My newest collaboration with my mother and children's book author Margery Facklam. Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children. Here is an excerpt from Chapter One:
THE NONFICTION WRITER
No matter what our backgrounds, nonfiction writers have one characteristic in common: We love to learn. Author Annie Dillard once described herself in her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. “I am no scientist,” she said. “I am a wanderer with a penchant for quirky facts.” That pretty much sums up most nonfiction writers too. We are perpetual students of the world soaking up the odd, unusual, bizarre, and fascinating fact. We relish hearing about heroic deeds of the past or the recent discovery of a new drug from the Amazon. But we also love to shine a light on the ordinary things of life so that they gleam in a way no one noticed before. James Cross Giblin, author and former children’s book editor, wrote a fascinating book on the history of silverware. Common as this subject may seem, it would be hard to resist reading his book, Hand to Mouth: Or, How We Invented Knives, Forks, Spoons, Chopsticks, and the Table Manners to Go With Them.
As nonfiction writers, we do all the things that everyone else does: We walk the dog, cook breakfast, and go on vacation, but we do these things with a built-in sense of wonder. Between the dog’s piddle stops, we might contemplate the bricks, cobblestones, or logs that lie under the asphalt. While cracking an egg, we might ponder the daily routine on an egg farm or how the gelatinous goo morphs into a chicken. We tend to plan our family vacations around research and interview trips.
While nonfiction writers are perpetual students, we are also eager teachers. It is no surprise that many nonfiction writers once taught or still teach in a classroom, including Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Seymour Simon, James Deem, and Jean Fritz, to name a few.
Anatomy of Nonfiction: Writing True Stories for Children, published by Writer's Institute Publications, 2011.