Monday, February 8, 2010

Which comes first: fantasy or fact finding?

I love ‘em both: creating ideas and digging deep in research. Even when I am writing pure fiction – a dragon waiting for wings to grow – there are things to learn.

I use two sources: children’s books at the library where I am employed and the internet. That wingless dragon book leads me into the mythology section for dragon traits and the picture book area for the ways others have pictured dragons. Then I comb the internet for difference between Western and Eastern dragons, and always check to see if anyone else has recently published a story about wingless dragons! If so I might as well put it in a file for next decade or work on it until it is really unique.

For years I focused on Bible storybook writing where there is only one source: the Bible. Publishers vary on how close to Holy Scripture the story has to be. Can I introduce talking animals? Can I put words in anyone’s mouth or only use direct quotes? Can I fill in settings with information I know is culturally accurate? Then I research the abilities and interests of the intended reader. What are children at various ages capable of understanding about terms like “crucifixion” and “incarnation”? What is the attention span of each age? (Pictured: Robin Currie's Baby Bible Stories about Jesus, Cook Communications, reissued with new art, 2009.)

Recently I may have found my real place in the publishing world: Edu-tainment: fun stories that teach new ideas and cultures with words introduced in glossary or sidebars. Who doesn’t want to know more about the arctic or the Sonora desert?


  1. I agree Robin that sometimes a little research goes a long way, even for books that have purely fictional characters and circumstances.

    I always look up my titles and subjects to see if they've been done before. I want to know, does my story add a different element to what's already out there?

  2. You are so fortunate to have the library at your fingertips.
    Trying to have children understand the complexities in the Bible and keeping it fun would be challenging
    I think you found your niche with fun non-fiction books, you make it engaging.

  3. What a range of things to research--fictional dragons, real-life climates and animals, the Bible! I looked up your books and they have great reviews on Amazon! Very impressive. Do you ever research anything in terms of style of writing or word choices? Just curious because your edu-tainment stories still have the same lyricism as your dragon/dandelion/frog stories.

  4. I find the information you shared about the Bible story books fascinating. I never thought about how challenging it might be to make those tried and true stories different or how publishers might vary on what type of information they would allow.

  5. I definitely was given more insight into the thought process of picture books and those Bible Books had to have been a delicate and challenging work, when you draw from the most powerful book in History.