Today, I have with me the fantastic writer Kathryn Lasky who was nice enough to answer a few questions for me. Her Guardians of Ga’Hoole series is soon to be a movie and I can’t wait to see it! Stay tuned for a giveaway at the end!
Kathryn Lasky is the Newbery Honor author of over one hundred fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. She lives with her husband in Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can visit her online at www.kathrynlasky.com.
1. When and why did you begin writing?
It was so long ago that I barely remember. But once upon a time I did a very boring kind of writing—fashion copy for a fashion magazine—describing dresses, stuff like that. When I got married my husband liked to sail, and although not a sailor by experience, I sort of went along for the ride. Some ride! We have sailed twice across the Atlantic in a very small boat. Yes, we’re kind of nuts. Storms, weather in general, and the scary as well as the beautiful things about being at sea in the middle of the Atlantic ocean on a thirty foot boat is –how should I put it—inspiring, way more inspiring than writing about dresses. So I started writing for a sailing magazine.
I now realize that I have not precisely answered you question. Why do I write? I guess I write because it is the one thing I do well. I am totally unmusical, I can’t dance. But I always loved to read. I often thought if I could have been a professional reader that would have been great. So being a writer is the next best thing.
2. Do you have a favorite theme or genre that you like to write about? Is there a genre that you’ll probably stay away from and why?
I would have to say that my favorite genre is historical fiction. I love history. I always read a lot of history and historical novels when I was growing up. Even when I write fantasy I weave in a lot of history. In the Guardians of Ga’Hoole I have based the major battle in book six, The Burning, on the Normandy invasion in World War 2. In the final book, The War of the Ember, the last battle is based on Thermopylae in 480 B.C. when the Greeks went up against the Persians. Cool battle!
I’m not sure if there is a genre I would steer clear of –maybe outer space fantasy or romance novels. I don’t think I am cut out for that sort of writing.
3. How does it feel to have one of your books coming out as a movie? Did you take part in any of that process?
It feels incredible. For nearly ten years I have lived with these characters’ voices in my head and now to hear them and hear them voiced by such great actors like Jim Sturgess, Helen Mirren, Sam Neil, and Geoffrey Rush was overwhelming to me. I started crying. All I could think was ‘all this stuff in my head for so long and now it’s out there.’ This is strange to say but I almost felt as if I had been away—lonely and away for a long time and I was now back and being welcomed by long lost friends—even the bad guys!
Warner Bros and the people at Animal Logic, the animation studio in Sydney Australia—all of the creators of this movie from the producers, the director, the writers and the actors—have remained so faithful to the spirit of the books and the characters. I was particularly concerned about Soren. To me the most important thing about Soren is that he is not a super hero. He doesn’t have x-ray vision, or phenomenal strength. He is like the characters in many heroic stories that I loved as a child rather ordinary. But these characters possess something that makes them responsible in spite of themselves, and it is this that sets them apart. What I love about Jim Sturgess’s performance is that there is no bluster. Sturgess has managed to capture—and I’m not sure how—Soren’s vulnerability. And that to me makes Soren a believable hero.
As for my part in this process I cannot take too much credit, but I made a few trips to Los Angeles and the writer John Orloff called me often to consult with me. I did read the screenplay at one point and made several suggestions which they took! One thing I can say is that Warner Bros and everyone else were very good listeners.
To be honest, like all authors, I did go into this with some trepidation but what I have seen exceeds my expectations. In fact there are things the writers, animators, and director have added to the film that I wished I had figured out to do in the books. And I became even more aware of the hugely talented ‘movie village’ it takes to create such an exciting, impressive movie.
Now we are less than a month out from the opening. This cosmos I created all in my head is being realized and I feel as if I am entering a dream. A dream I sketched, but one that people with enormous talent have made come true. Of course there are some necessary changes—a book is not a movie. But I can say definitively that the movie has the same integrity that I tried very hard to maintain in the books.
4. What projects are you currently working on?
Right now I am working on the third book in my new series The Wolves of The Beyond. The first book Lone Wolf came out last fall. The second one Shadow Wolf will be out in October. The third as yet untitled—that’s what I’m revising right now. The wolves were introduced in book 8 of The Guardians of Ga’Hoole, The Outcast. They live outside the Hoolian kingdom in the Beyond. So in this series the focus is on the wolves and not the owls. The owls are in the background but there are some interactions between the two species. When I finish this revision I have a real change of pace. I have to start working on my third Daughters of the Sea book. I have a particular fondness for this series for although it is fantasy it is rooted at the turn of the last century. It is about three girls, sisters, who discover they are not quite human but are mermaids. The first book Hannah came out last fall and the next one will come out Spring 2011.
5. Do you have any advice for young writers?
Oh wow, that is like do you have five minutes tell me all you know. I would say that the first thing young writers should do is read widely in all genres. Read nonfiction—science, history. Read everything. They should figure out what they like in a hero. But they should also read myths and legends. As I said, I prefer characters who are not super heroes. Someone else might prefer another kind of hero. There is one thing that is very important—no hero or villain should be one dimensional—not all good or all bad. You need to show vulnerability in characters—their weak spots, their fears. That makes them accessible to a reader.
Thank you Kathryn! I absolutely loved Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture and can’t wait to see the movie in theatres!
Here is a trailer for the movie, if you haven’t seen it yet! Comes out in Theatres on September 24th!
Today, I am fortunate enough to be able to giveaway a copy of two of Kathryn’s books to TWO winners! That’s right, two books each for two different people.
What will you win if you are one of the two lucky winners?
* A copy of Guardians of Ga’hoole: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky
* A copy the first book in Kathryn Lasky’s new series — Wolves of the Beyond: Lone Wolf
When Soren, a young owlet, mysteriously falls from his nest one evening, he’s plucked up and taken to the sinister St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. Once there, he must use his wits and bravery to escape his captors. If Soren can learn to fly, he might just be able to take refuge with a group of brave owls he’d thought only to be a legend—the Guardians of Ga’Hoole!
In the harsh wilderness beyond Ga’Hoole, a wolf mother hides in fear. Her newborn pup, otherwise healthy, has a twisted leg. The mother knows the rigid rules of her kind. The pack cannot have weakness. Her pup must be abandoned on a desolate hill—condemned to die. But alone in the forest, the pup, Faolan, does the unthinkable. He survives. This is his story—the story of the wolf pup who rises up to change forever the Wolves of the Beyond. Find out more at http://www.scholastic.com/wolvesofthebeyond/.
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4. Contest ends Thursday, September 23rd at 11:59 CST.