|Photo of Seidler by Charles Gold|
Some of my favorite email exchanges are with the authors of the books I read and review on my blog.
Interview with Tor Seidler:
author of: Firstborn, Toes, Brothers Below Zero,
Brainboy and theDeathmaster
Tell us about your experience doing research for Firstborn. How long did you spend observing wolves? Where?
Seidler: By my standards, I did a lot of research for Firstborn. Beyond the whimsical premise of the animals speaking in complete sentences, I wanted the story to be as close to nature as possible. I read fictional and nonfiction accounts of wolves, but more importantly I had a friend who was a great source of information: Jean Craighead George, author of Julie of the Wolves, among many other books. Best of all,I went wolf watching with Jean in and around Yellowstone Park in late May and early June, 2005. The wolves had been reintroduced into the park in the mid 1990’s, and by the time of our visit they were pretty well established. The pack we observed in the northeast corner of the park had twenty-six members. We would arrive before sunrise and set up our viewing scopes on a hillside above a creek. Often we got to see the alpha male lead the other hunters back from their night hunt on the other side ofthe creek and distribute food among the pack’s six new pups. An amazing experience! In more recent years I’ve also visited the wolf reserve in northern Westchester County. But there’s nothing like seeing animals in the wild.
What did you find most challenging about writing your book?
Seidler:There are always a lot of challenges for me in writing any novel, but in this one I think the biggest was figuring out how to tell the story. I initially wrote it from an omniscient point of view, focusing solely on the wolves. The story began with Blue Boy, the alpha male wolf, awaiting the birth of his pups. But the story wasn’t quite lifting off. When I hit on the idea of writing it from the point of view of a bird, a magpie who attaches herself to the pack, it seemed to give the material another dimension.
After writing a book about animals, do you have a favorite animal? Which one and why is it your favorite?
Seidler: I’m a great believer in bio-diversity, so I like all animals. But I must say in studying the wolves I gained a deep respect for them. Their life is very hard. Few live to see their first birthday. But the way they learn to work together, both socially and in the hunt, is awe-inspiring. I also have a soft spoke for coyotes, who lead much more individualistic lives than wolves.
Unlikely friendships develop in Firstborn. Did you observe any unlikely animal behavior or relationshipsin doing research?
Seidler: I’ve read about unlikely relationships developing between different species, but to be honest I didn’t observe any in my wolf watching. I love the idea of multi-culturalism, though, and I’ve written about it before in the animal world, especially in a book called The Wainscott Weasel.
Your book involves conservation efforts for wildlife reintroduction. Are there any conservation efforts you would like to encourage in your young readers?
Seidler: I’m a fan of all conservation efforts, be it joining the Sierra Club or encouraging your parents to recycle orminimizing your carbon footprint. I have a particular fondness for the World Wildlife Fund.
What made you want to become a writer?
Seidler: Reading. I enjoyed books so much as a kid that I thought, “Hey, maybe I can do that!”
What suggestions do you have for young readers who might like to become writers someday?
Read. And then read some more. And don’t accept what people tell you. Look at things with your own eyes and reach your own conclusions.
Is there anything you would like to add about your writing and/or books?
Seidler: Well, I hope some of you enjoy them!