This past June on the SCBWI-IL listserve, Gail posted a call for volunteers to man the Orphan Works Bill booth at the Chicago Craft and Hobby Show. Wanting to help the cause, sweetened with free admission to the show, I volunteered. Meeting Gail was a treat. She's a great mix of creative energy and an open heart. And, isn't it fun to meet other SCBWI members with different interests?
Gail's latest book was released last month:
Animals and Teens
The Ultimate Teen Guide
Series: It Happened to Me #22
Scarecrow Press February 2009
From the Scrarecrow Press website:
Teens live in an imperfect world where people judge each other on looks, popularity, bank accounts, or clothing styles-a world where people are not always treated fairly. But animals do not care about poor test scores or bad skin; they simply love unconditionally. Such devotion makes the human-animal bond so special.
The voices in this book come from a large cross section of teens and young adults whose stories will resonate with anyone who loves animals. From helping with animal rescue to overcoming learning disabilities, these heartwarming experiences demonstrate how each of us can make a difference through the incredibly rewarding human-animal bond.
I origionally planned to interview another author for today's post, but his new book release was pushed back. At the last minute, I emailed Gail to ask if I could interview her for today's post. She immediately emailed back and graciously answered my questions.
1) Did you grow up in Illinios?
Yes, I've lived here in Chicago my entire life.
Cool thing - one of Gail's favorite things is to take the train to downtown Chicago and walk.
2) Can you tell me about your latest book?
The book I wrote is part of a series of books aimed at teens (“All about Me” series). My topic (animals) and the target audience (teens) are both something about which I am extremely passionate.
The years of junior high and high school are rough years for most. Between school and grades, social pressures, family dynamics/problems or just all the physical and emotional changes of growing up, many teens wind up acting out, socially withdrawing, getting into trouble or just become difficult to live with. And all of the wonderful things that teen has to offer is often ignored (or lost) because the focus is instead on all the “bad” stuff. But, when a teen bonds with an animal, they can find a safe haven and a purpose. Not only do they have a friend they can trust, but they also have a friend who doesn’t care about all the other “drama” that goes on. My book is filled with stories about teens who truly believe they can get through or have managed to survive those turbulent years because of their involvement with animals.
Teens have so much to offer but are often just viewed by adults as “kids”. The teens and young adults I interviewed for my book have expressed the feelings and viewpoint of their generation FOR their generation. It is peer speaking to peer. And we, as adults or younger children can gain tremendously from their experiences and observations about the human-animal bond.
3) How did you become so passionate about animals?
I have loved animals my entire life. Although my parents weren’t keen on pets and my mother was actually afraid of dogs, I sought out ways I could interact with animals. I would play at friends’ homes where there were dogs, cats and other animals, learning how to properly interact with them. Since I was more drawn to dogs overall, I would even go back to those friends’ houses when the friends weren’t there, just so I could ask their mom if I could walk their dog! I babysat for a family with a dog but when I wasn’t babysitting, I would still go over there and spend time training the dog to do tricks. I would spend hours at zoos and other places where there were animals, as well as pouring through hundreds of animal-related books, soaking in every bit of information I could absorb.
My husband and I have always had birds and fish but when our youngest child was old enough, we got our first dog…and were subsequently introduced to the incredible world of dog obedience. That experience was so fascinating and fun, we wound up getting heavily involved in dog sports and advocates for responsible pet ownership.
4) Why did you write this book specifically for teens?
While my children were growing up, I was the “neighborhood mom”. Our home was a safe haven, a place of refuge for neighborhood kids who needed a caring adult to speak with when their family situations were in turmoil. Perhaps it was partly the interaction with our dogs (one of whom later became a certified therapy dog) as well as their comfort with me and friendships with my children, but whatever it was, I feel very honored to have been a part of the lives of teens who needed a sympathetic ear or the advice of an adult whom they knew they could trust.
5) What did you learn while writing this book?
In order to write a book that resonates with its readers, the words should be from the author’s heart and own experience. Tying my two passions together in my book was pure joy. Not only did the entire book’s topics revolve around animals, the teens and young adults that I met and got to know through the interview process are some of the most incredible young people I have ever known. From teens who suffered childhood abuse or difficult family situations that included divorce, death, etc to teens who volunteer at animal rescues and various therapeutic facilities that use animals for therapy, the teen voices in my book are definitely not just “kids”. They are the future and the hope for all of us who love animals. It is these young people who will carry on the torch for responsible pet ownership and the incredible human-animal bond for future generations.
It's so exciting to hear about writers and their passions. You can really see the spark in her writing.
Gail's love of animals shines through in her licensed artwork: Sweet PETatoes
For more infromation about Sweet PETatoes, check out the website: SweetPetatoes.com
To learn more about Gail, including her editorial services, check out her website: GailGreen.net
And, check out Gail's blog: Gail Green's Blog
Gail's artwork is very unique, friendly, and fun. I'd love to see her illustrations in children's books someday!