Subscribe to SLJ
Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Open Invitation — new meaning of author visit

Last Year I Wrote a Consider the Source Column from Stonhenge

I told about the research Mike Parker-Pearson is doing there, and my visit with him. Well I am going back for a very quick visit to see how the excavations have continued since last year. Eventually this will make its way into a book. But, in the spirit of Vicki opening up her book to include student videos, I thought I should open up my research trip to include students. Unfortunately all of this is about to happen, very early in the school year. But here is the drill: I leave for the UK on September 6, return on the 10th. I will be on the site with the team from Sunday through Wednesday. If you are in touch with any students or teachers who have questions they would like me to pass on to the archaeologists, please send them to me before I leave. I will have a laptap, but not sure about wifi on a stone age site.

As background, National Geographic did a cover article on the new research at Stonhenge this summer, so any teacher can quickly get her class up to speed by looking at Caroline Alexander’s article in that (June?) issue. More generally, though, I think our reserach — when we go out to figure out what our books will be about — is a good moment to be in touch with our readers. Why wait until the story is cooked, why not let them into the process as we gather the raw ingredients? Not every book is as sexy as Stonehenge, but every research process involves an author going out into what is, for him or her, the unknown. That is exactly what students experience as they begin their research. Why not give them a way to come along with us? To me that is a perfect form of digital author visit — which then builds a foundation for possible later contact.

My email is on my website, so feel free to send any questions to me there.