We are so excited to welcome author Deborah Hopkinson today for the 1st stop on her Dive Blog Tour! Deborah is celebrating the release of her new book, Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific.
An Interview with Deborah Hopkinson
What inspired you to write Dive?
I love writing about history, and there’s no doubt that the 20th century was defined by the cataclysmic events of the Holocaust and World War II. I’m part of the baby boomer generation, yet though both my parents served in the military, I never studied the war in school.
That’s one reason I took on writing three nonfiction books on World War II for Scholastic. In 2015, I published Courage & Defiance: Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark. The middle book, Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors and Submarines in the Pacific, was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in December 2016. In 2018 I will publish a nonfiction work on D-Day prior to that anniversary in June 2019.
How long did the research you did take and how did you know where to begin?
I usually have two phases of research – a preliminary, inactive stage and then a more intense process of research and writing. For Dive! I spent many months gathering and evaluating resources before I finally felt ready to begin. I often tell students that one book leads to another, and that is how I research.
The writing for this book was compressed into a six month period — a very intense time where I wrote eight to ten hours a day. But once I had found the right stories of the men and submarines I wanted to tell, it was one of the most fun books I’ve ever written.
We have seen a statistic that World War II Veterans are dying at a rate of approximately 492 per day. How does this impact researching and accurately depicting stories from that time period? Why is it important to share these stories?
I once heard Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Atkinson speak to this question. He mentioned that he preferred to rely on first person accounts and memoirs as close to the events as possible. With time, memories become oft-told stories. I often find the same.
What is it that draws you to history and inspires you to write about it?
I love to ask students to share their favorite books, and I know many young readers are drawn to fantasy. While I enjoy fiction, I am always amazed by reading about extraordinary people in history. There is something incredible inspiring to me. When we put ourselves into the shoes of others in this way, I think we can better appreciate our own lives and what it took to create the world we enjoy today.
What advice would you give young writers?
I like to compare writing to sports. I think it’s obvious that young people interested in baseball, soccer, or tennis will spend a lot of time watching their favorite sport. And children who play sports know that before games, they have to practice, just as major league players do.
Writing is much the same. I tell young writers the best preparation is to read. And then practice writing as often as possible. Writing is hard work – like sports, music, or any skill.
I am very excited about two picture books coming out in the spring and summer of 2017. A Letter to My Teacher is illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, who also did the art for Apples to Oregon, one of my favorite stories to share with students and families. Independence Cake, a historical fiction picture book about America’s first cookbook author, is illustrated by Giselle Potter, one of my favorite artists.
Thank you, Deborah for stopping by!
Be sure to check all the stops on the #DiveBlogTour.