Questions and Answers
for Diane Swanson

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas pop out of everywhere: experiences, conversations and books of all kinds. They don't always appear when I need them,and they often turn up at unexpected times, like when I'm on the phone or in the shower. But when an idea strikes, I jot it down as soon as possible, before it has a chance to vanish.

How many books have you written?

I've written eight nature books. My next book, which is almost finished, is the story of a North American giant: the amazing buffalo.

How long does it take to write a book?

Working on a book is a big project. Besides all the writing and rewriting I do, I spend a lot of time researching, checking facts, working with artists or locating photos, writing captions for illustrations, making an index and proofreading. It usually takes a year to go from an idea to a printed book.

What advice can you offer young people interested in writing?

Write about what really excites you. No matter what the subject, if you let your excitement shine through your words, you'll grab your readers' interest.

Is it hard to write a book?

I've written professionally for more than 20 years and I still find writing hard. But, like anything I enjoy doing and want to do well, it's worth the effort. Writing books gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Who or what inspired you?

The astonishing natural world is what inspires my writing, and children influence how I approach it: the child I once was, my own children and the children I know today. As Rachel Carson wrote, "a child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement." There's no better influence than that.

Do you do a lot of research?

I spend a lot of time researching my books, but I don't mind. Actually, I'm addicted to digging out information especially facts that are little known, surprising or fun. I often have so much fun digging that it's hard for me to stop and get around to the business of writing.
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