Author Monica Kulling Joins Us – And Makes Non-Fiction Fun!
Remember all the history you studied in school? Yeah, I don’t either. But we’re in luck, because today we welcome non-fiction author Monica Kulling to the blog, with her special writing gift that makes history ,and science, interesting! Monica makes inventors and their inventions come to life for the youngest readers in her Step Into Reading Books and follows those up with more in her Great Idea Series.
Here’s Monica to tell you about her writing and her books:
I’ve written many non-fiction books in my twenty years of publishing with Random House. I’ve covered the subject of animals—specifically, elephants, alligators, bears, and horses. I’ve also written biographies for Random House’s “Step Into Reading” line. I’ve delved into the mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart and Harry Houdini, followed the courageous journeys of Harriet Tubman and Sir Ernest Shackleton, and illuminated the quiet courage of Eleanor Roosevelt and Francis Scott Key. These are but a few of the amazing individuals I’ve had the privilege to explore and write about.
Why am I drawn to writing biography? The simple answer is that I’m captivated by struggle. The story of someone’s life isn’t interesting to me unless there are barriers to freedom, poverty, danger, injustice, and the host of struggles we are heir to as human beings. That element in someone’s life story, common to us all, keeps me writing about people from the past. The drama of every day life hooks me and keeps me seeking new subjects to explore and to introduce to young readers.
Why, specifically, do I write about inventors? I’ve asked myself that question a lot lately, mainly in preparation for this blog piece. I think I’ve come up with one answer that seems to fit. I find inventors fascinating, not only because they are creative and often walk to their own drumbeat, but because they are the original lateral thinkers. Most of us tackle a problem head-on, and if that doesn’t work we just try harder with the same approach, over and over, hoping that something will cave and we’ll have the result we desire. But inventors don’t waste that kind of energy. They tackle a problem many times, but they try ways and means OUTSIDE the box. They try something no one has thought to try before.
The first inventor I wrote about, some fifteen years ago, was George Eastman and his invention of the Kodak camera. I wrote about him because I love photography, and also because his story illustrates that dogged approach I am speaking of. He never gave up in his quest to invent dry plates, then celluloid film, and then different types of cameras. I sent this story out to several publishers, including Random House, but no one wanted it, so I moved on.
I came across the story of Henry Ford and a car race he entered to win prize money to build his Model T, the car anyone could afford to own. Imagine entering a car race when you’ve never ever raced a car before. Now that was a fun fact. Most inventors have this type of audacity working in their favor. Eat My Dust! Henry Ford’s First Race sold to Random House as a Step Into Reading book. I then added Listen Up! Alexander Graham Bell’s Talking Machine a couple years later. Then, the fabulous Publisher, Kathy Lowinger, at Tundra Books here in Toronto called me in to have a chat. She published It’s A Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph and, in 2009, the Great Idea series was born.
We’re thrilled to read and sell Monica’s books (and re-learn a little history along the way, too!) It’s a Snap!, In the Bag! and All Aboard! will all be available in paperback on August 6th, Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top is available now in hardcover, and the newest volume in the Great Idea series Making Contact! Marconi Goes Wireless will be in your favorite bookstore or library on September 24th.
Many Thanks to Monica Kulling, and to you our readers, for joining us today at RAoR!
Please share your thoughts in our comments section.