Redoubtable? I’ll take it!

From School Library Journal‘s review of The Third Chimpanzee for Young People, my YA adaptation of Jared Diamond’s book The Third Chimpanzee:

“Adapted for younger audiences by the redoubtable Stefoff . . .  this wide-ranging study of what makes us human offers provocative views of evolution, adaptation, cultural diffusion, sexuality, genocide, race, mass extinctions of the past and present, the roots of drug abuse and language, and even the search for extraterrestrial intelligence . . . . Thoughtful readers interested in any fields related to evolutionary science, anthropology, psychology, human history, and culture will find plenty to ponder.”

It would have been nice to have been described as “the famous Stefoff” or “the indecently wealthy Stefoff,” but neither, alas, is true. Being redoubtable–or at least being called redoubtable–is nonetheless awesome. Never doubt it. The OED defines “redoubtable” as “to be feared or dreaded; formidable” and “to be reverenced or revered; commanding respect.” Fear me or revere me, it’s all good!

Foreign editions

I’m happy to announce that several of my recent books have gone into new foreign editions. Here are a few of them: from left to right, the Chinese edition of The Young People’s History of the United States, my YA adaptation of Howard Zinn’s Young People’s History; the Azerbaijan edition of the Young People’s History; and the British edition of The Third Chimpanzee for Young People, my YA adaptation of Jared Diamond’s first book, The Third Chimpanzee. More to follow as I get hold of copies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

See you at the NIWA Symposium

You may have heard me grumble from time to time about “the tyranny of facts.” That’s because most of the books I’ve published have been nonfiction, often stuffed to the Plimsoll line with facts. (The Plimsoll line is the reference mark on a ship’s side that indicates the waterline at maximum allowable load. Thank Samuel Plimsoll, who pushed a law mandating such marks through Parliament in 1876. Fact.) Novelists, too, use facts to buttress their fictional constructions. Whether traditionally or independently published, every writer is sometimes responsible for researching and checking facts.

I’ll share what I’ve learned from several decades of fact-wrangling in a presentation on “Being Your Own Fact-Checker: Tips and Methodologies for Research” at 9:45 on Saturday morning, February 1, as part of the first ever annual symposium organized by the Northwest Independent Writers Association. The symposium is a two-day event filled with sessions on writing, publishing, and marketing, as well as chances to network with other writers, both traditionally and independently published. I’m excited to be taking part in it, and I hope to see you there.

 

Launch party in New York

This weekend I’ll be traveling to New York–barring a hurricane-caused disruption–for the launch of Triangle Square Books, a new children’s and YA nonfiction imprint from Seven Stories Press.

Seven Stories is the publisher of my YA adaptation of Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, as well as my new YA adaptation of Ronald Takaki’s history of multicultural America, A Different Mirror. Seven Stories has long been committed to publishing progressive books on politics, history, and social and environmental justice. I believe Triangle Square will fill an important need, and I can’t wait to see what books they will be offering to young readers.

No Giant Sequoias were harmed

. . . in the making of this campsite. The big stump was there when we arrived. There was one twice as big just across the road.

Zachary and I recently returned from a California road trip. We spent most of it  camping, hiking, swimming, and canyoneering (including a crawl along a lovely cold cave stream) in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Awesome places, and much less visited than Yosemite.

We saw a lot of big trees. Really big. We almost saw bears–while we were pitching the campsite in the photo, two bears strolled through the campground, a small and almost unoccupied one near the end of the long and bumpy road to Mineral King, a high alpine area that ended up being my favorite part of Sequoia. We heard about the bears later from the other camper there; we had apparently been too busy untangling our tent poles to notice.

One of the best parts of the trip was the evening we climbed Divide, across a dusky gulf of air filled with swallows. (I thought with a chill of the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn.)

After leaving the parks we headed to Marin and Sonoma counties for Z’s high-school reunion (oh, the stories I heard!) and a stroll down memory lane as Z showed me various places he’d lived. Then we drove up the coast through the redwood forests–more big trees!–and eventually home.

The worst part of the trip was when the car’s AC crapped out on the first day. Most of the time we were okay without it, but our itinerary required us to make two long traverses of “the valley”–and now I fully understand, and share, the contempt with which that phrase is usually uttered. It was 106 in Fresno when we passed through, and the whole region is as bleak, dusty, and cheerless as the Plains of Mordor. But the mountains and the coast more than made up for it.

Actually, that may not have been the worst part of the trip. My publisher went out of business while we were on vacation–but that’s another story.