A.B After reading your books, it made me wonder (the kid in me) what it would be like to meet someone from the past. Is this what prompted you both to write this series?
Both of us have always been drawn to time-travel books – the excitement of being in a different place and time, the thrill of knowing things that will be happening in the future, and the adventure of how to make sure you don’t mess up history are all elements that we love.
That is partially what started the series. We also have three children each and looked for books to read to them that would be adventurous but also have educational value. There are some on the market, but there was certainly room for more. So, BLAST TO THE PAST was born.
A.B. For children, (my two for sure) this really gave them a firmer understanding of people who made a difference in our history. How have young people reacted to the Blast to the Past?
It is incredible to describe the enjoyment that our audience has when reading our books. Kids have come up to me, Rhody, in a local pizza place and told me how much they love the adventure and how many new things they learned about Lincoln, or Disney, or Franklin…really, about any of the historic figures that our books focus on.
Stacia has had similar reactions by readers in schools that she has visited. Children are always learning, soaking in information from many sources and our books seem to fulfill a desire to know more, to know more about how people used to live and that all people, even famous ones, are human.
A.B. Explain how your illustrator, Guy Francis, was able to capture your vision for the series.
Believe it or not, we simply send the illustrator some suggestions for each illustration and he takes off on his own. He does get a copy of the book before publication, so he has an excellent idea of the action in each chapter and that really helps when he captures the look on different characters’ faces, or the time period that they are visiting.
A.B. As co-authors, (and friends) what are some of the challenges you both faced while writing this series?
We laugh about how this series has given us something important to talk about during the twenty times a day that we call each other! You have to realize that we live in different cities and have for many years, so we do all of our writing and plotting and planning via email and cell phones – thank goodness for technology. But, more to the point, we have discovered that we are a perfect match, balancing out each other in a multitude of ways. Really, our biggest challenge for the series is getting word out to children, their parents, and educators that this award-winning historic fiction series is available.
A.B. What would you like to share with educators and librarians regarding your Blast to the Past series?
The series is so approachable with a time-travel adventure wrapped around an introduction to important historic figures. These books fit right into the curriculum since they teach about famous Americans, American history, and the differences between facts and fiction. There is even a teacher’s guide available on-line for book number one. Students love to be read to out loud and these books have cliff-hangers at the end of every chapter which will keep the kids on the edge of their seats, interested and always wanting more.
On a final note…Washington's War will be released at the end of December 2006. And I must say, these books bring you back in time, as well as, gently handle the tough issues of the day.