September 4-7 is “Random Acts of Publicity Week”! It was created by Darcy Patterson to encourage us to pay it forward by promoting books and goings-ons of other people and peers in the kid lit community (a wonderful idea!).
So for my Random Act of Kindness I’m happy to feature author and illustrator Lori Taylor and her new book, “Let Sleeping Bear Dunes Lie” (Bear Track Press, 2012). It is the second book in the Holly Wild series (the first book, “Bamboozled on Beaver Island”, came out in 2011).
Right now we see a lot of children’s books and YA that are centered around fantasy, of finding and exploring new worlds and dimensions. What I love about the Holly Wild series is that it shows kids that you can find action and adventure right in your own backyard! There is a whole world ready to discover in nature, and the books teach children how to have fun and help the environment at the same time. “Let Sleeping Bear Dunes Lie” takes place at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, where we find Holly Wild and her fellow GeEK members (Geo-Explored Kids) following the tracks of a ghost bear through the dunes to find what threatens the home of the legendary Sleeping Bear.
The books have sold out at the Nature Center at Sleeping Bear Dunes as well as being very popular at the schools that Lori visits.
Lori is a member of SCBWI, runs the SCBWI-MI “Scribblers“ page where Michigan illustrators have a chance to showcase their latest work, and is also both the author and illustrator of the Holly Wild books. She was kind enough to grant me an interview!
What inspired you to create Holly Wild and her outdoor adventures?
My own childhood adventures and the explorations/challenges of my own children. I made and kept a survival kit around as I grew up in the woods and pond of Clarkston. I loved making forts and playing in the neighborhood “wilderness”. It seemed dangerous and exciting. Kids need that now. If we want them to be caretakers of the land they have to get to know it and love it first. As I wrote in Holly Wild, it all began with”horse poop” and that curiosity and desire to learning what was outside my door.
You are both the author and illustrator of the Holly Wild books. What do you enjoy most about each of the aspects of writing and illustrating?
It’s all about the storytelling. I have been a storyteller from way back. Since the time I scared the pants off my babysitting sister and cousin I have told tales. The writing part gives me freedom to be crazy, informative, talk in varied character voices (I love doing crazy voices and henceforth loved puppetry). The drawing part is where I can make the book mine. I get to draw characters, scenes and people down the street so to speak. But it is the character I love most, the story actor. I sketch when I am out in the world. At markets, fairs, oil change garage. Those folks become background people for my books and other folks I study and sketch become main players of the series.
We are also trying to keep them stocked in nature centers and gift shops. So far we have cut out the distributor and Amazon and doing it on our own until further notice. It’s a learning process this Indie pub biz. I wear many hats. Which is really good, since I love wearing hats.
Is there a real GeEKs, Geo-Explorer Kids Club that kids can join?
There is a quasi-GeEK Club that my granddaughter started at her Lapeer elementary school. If kids want to form their own GeEK clubs I want to know about them and celebrate them! Heck, I’d even come out with Kenny and party with them, have s’mores and share stories. Kids should form their own clubs I think. If I can inspire a nature club then cool…and three thumbs up to them (Kenny has but one thumb or tail and my two make three).
Are you still available for school visits? How can someone arrange for you to visit their school?
Heck yeah, I am available for school visits. Like Holly, I want to share with the world what’s going on outside, in the woods, at the lake and stuff. I love being with kids and hearing their stories. I have a press kit button on my site that answers questions and if that doesn’t do it, then teachers, parents, scout leaders, and librarians can email me directly. Kenny and I love to play nicely with others (Kenny is Lori’s corn snake, who is one of the characters in “Bamboozled on Beaver Island”!)
When can we look forward to the next book in the Holly Wild series? Can you give us a tiny hint as to where it will take place?
The next book, Book Three Packing for the Porkies (working title as of 9-1-12) we would like to have out early next spring. This book will take place in Michigan’s U.P. where I did my artist-in-residence in 2008, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, our biggest state park. It will be everything Yooper (people who live in and love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) and an exciting, fun book. Holly’s dad takes a bow in this one and there will be the usual cast with a surprising twist. I have even started getting book four lined up since they all intertwine. I can’t even wait! I have to go write now!
Thank you Lori! We look forward to reading more about the adventures of Holly Wild! Again, you can check out her books at www.loritaylorart.com