And Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us!
Thank you so much, Sandra!
CAROLINE HATTON is a scientist and a children’s writer. She has accumulated knowledge of drugs in sports and expertise in anti-doping science since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles when she went to work for Don Catlin, a preeminent champion of drug-free sports. Her idea of a fun 100-meter race is barefeet on the beach without prize money or recorded times. In 1996, she began pursuing her life-long dream of writing for children. The Night Olympic Team is her fifth children’s book. Her first novel, Véro and Philippe, made the Los Angeles Times children’s bestsellers list. You can read the beginning of all her books by clicking HERE.
With the Olympic Games in full swing this week, I thought this would be the perfect time for us to get to know Caroline a little better. I’m very grateful that this very busy author was able to do a Mini-View for us!
Could you please tell us about The Night Olympic Team. When did you get the idea to write a children's book about doping in the Olympics?
It was at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, after we found a prohibited drug in athletes’ samples. During a discussion with other scientists in the lab, bright ideas were flying around like sparks. A rush of excitement made me jump up from my chair and pace all over the room, feeling ready to burst. That’s when I thought, “Some day, I will write this story for children.”
How did you come up with the idea to make it a "science sleuth" theme?
I didn’t. Life did! The book simply shows how the drama unfolded and reflects my emotions.
Do you have a favorite tip for someone interested in writing children's nonfiction?
Look for story. Like fiction, nonfiction can take readers on the emotional ride of their lives. Look for engaging elements: likeable, real-life characters; conflict; high stakes; the clock ticking; suspense; and surprises. Then spin a good yarn.
What is your favorite children's joke?
Q: What do you get if you cross a chicken and a T. rex?
As far as staying grounded, a full-time job definitely helps. But, more than that, the letters I receive from teens are so heartwarming and inspiring. Many of them open up about their own lives and tell me the ways in which the book positively affected them. I can't feel anything but honored by that.
I'm working on my next novel for teens right now. There will definitely be more humorous elements in this book than Thirteen Reasons Why...but hopefully just as engaging.
Do you have a favorite novel-writing exercise, tip or piece of advice that you find most useful, and are willing to share with other writers?
Thirteen Reasons Why was the first manuscript I wrote without anyone looking at it (other than the first 12 pages) before it was finished. Since I was writing such a personal story, I didn't want anyone swaying the emotional aspects of my words yet. But I did hold several brainstorming sessions with my wife and two writing friends (and co-bloggers) Robin and Eve. After it was finished and polished to the best of my abilities, then I let other people read it...one at a time. After each person critiqued it, I made alterations and then passed the manuscript on to the next person. That way, the story was seen through fresh eyes each time as opposed to the same people critiquing every stage of the revision process.
What's your favorite children's joke? (I know as a frequent winner of the SCBWI summer conference joke contests, you've got to have a few jokes on hand ;-).