This past Friday, May 1, I was fortunate enough to discuss writing with 200 students (6th-, 7th-, and 8th grade) of Matapeake Middle School, in my town of Stevensville, MD. I’m very glad that both my daughters went to MMS, as it’s great: well-run, fantastic teachers, nice facilities, and excellent kids. It’s as good (probably even better) than Grandview School in Phoenix, AZ, where I attended 5th, 6th, and 7th grades–and Grandview was the BEST school I’ve ever been to.
Jennifer Dryer, one of the Reading Specialists there, had asked me to give a presentation on writing that would tie in with several of the school’s learning goals for the kids. I spoke to the kids about how important learning to write well would be to them in high school, college, and their careers.
I showed them various options of how one can write for a living (technical writing, editing, journalism, etc.) and for fun (creative writing, genealogies, hobbies, etc.). I explained how services and sites like Amazon CreateSpace, Smashwords, Lulu, Wattpad, et. al. easily allow anyone to publish their work with minimal expense. And I gave them highlights of my life and career to show how writing has worked out for me.
Sort of a dry subject, I admit, but I tried to make it as interesting as possible, and the kids were patient. Then we got onto something a bit more interesting for everyone: my books Dragontamer’s Daughters, Lost Dogs, and Our Wild Place. And I got the appropriate reaction (several shrieks of horror) when I showed them some concept art for my next work-in-progress, In Lonely Lands:
A lengthy and lively question-and-answer session followed, which is always my favorite part of talking to students (like those at Kent Island High School two weeks before). Some of the queries:
- “Do your daughters enjoy your books?” (If they don’t, they do a good job of faking it)
- “Are any of the dogs in Lost Dogs inspired by real ones?” (Yes: Sally is pretty much our Beagle, Cecilia)
- “Where do you get your inspirations?” (Lost Dogs came from an episode of Life After People)
- “Which book was the most fun to write?” (Lost Dogs)
- “What’s In Lonely Lands about?” (Searching for her missing lover, a young lady wanders into a dark, alternate world inhabited by monsters)
- “What will you write after In Lonely Lands?” (A superhero-type novel about a girl with a disability who acquires a powered exo-skeleton suit)
- “How much money do you make writing?” (I won’t be quitting the day job anytime soon)
With that, the presentation was over, and I gave all the kids links to where they could download and read Lost Dogs for free. They were VERY interested in Lonely Lands, and hopefully, I’ll be able to come back and talk to them about it next year.
I guess I better start working on it, huh?
Kenton Kilgore is the author of Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. Kenton also wrote Dragontamer’s Daughters, a two-part young adult fantasy novel based on Navajo culture and belief. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature. Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.