Kids are awesome. I ought to be around them more! Today I spoke to a school of about 400 kids, first to the 1st thru 3rd graders, then to the 4th thru 6th graders. Since I figured most of them would not have read my book, I talked about being a writer, showed some pictures of my family, like this one of my brother. . .
. . . told a little about the book, and threw in some of my favorite weird science & nature facts, specifically ones that apply to the world of my book. One of my favorite things about writing Dreamdark is the opportunity it gives me to do research into the natural world, in an effort to make the forests and jungles feel like real kingdoms full of wonders both magical and natural.
Take the humble moth for example. Not one of nature's most glamorous insects, but so cool. Besides the whole amazing silk thing, did you know that moths can smell each other up to seven miles away? I asked the kids how they'd like to be able to smell their friends coming from seven miles away. Not so much! That's a super power I could do without. I also showed them a slide of a moth caught in the act of drinking the tears of a sleeping bird. This amazes me. There are moths whose only source of saline is tears so they have specially adapted proboscises for getting through the inner eyelids of sleeping birds!!! HOLY COW!!!
And of course, there were the claws. Here is my guardian of the claws:
Like all my volunteers, he had to get dressed up for the occasion:
The boys were totally good sports about the wigs. One of them, a fifth grader and obvious class clown, even pounced on the one set of butterfly wings and commandeered them for himself!!
Here's my sweet butterfly faerie from the younger group:
I taught them my favorite new word:
Do any of you know what it means? Well, I didn't until a couple of days ago, but I knew at once that it would make a great faerie swear word. It means: caterpillar poop!!
And, I had a surprise for the kids that came about sort of by mistake when I went to the zoo with my family this weekend. I found a special paper for sale there. . . Well, I -- with the help of the kids, and Jim (who so sweetly came with me today for tech support so I could learn how to hook up my laptop to the projector. Thanks sweetie!) -- passed out pieces of paper, and had them hold it for a while, examine it closely, use their senses on it (ie touch, sniff. I did not suggest tasting, but some kids did so on their own). Only then did I show my final slide of the presentation, which revealed what the paper was made out of. . .
That's right. Elephant poop. Ha ha ha! That got such a huge reaction -- especially from the paper tasters, of course. But not to worry -- the paper is totally clean and sterilized, but it really is made out of elephant poop! When I saw it at the zoo, I knew I needed to have some. I just googled their web site and discovered they make rhino poo paper too.
And the very last thing, besides questions, was the facial tattoos. That's right, we gave the kids facial tattoos, a la Rathersting:
Snazzy, no? Of course they're not real tattoos. See, Jim took pictures of a few kids and then, while I was talking, he photoshopped these tattoos onto their faces, and we showed them at the end. It looked awesome.
It was a lot of fun, and I'm going to another school on friday (hi Jone!) and another next week, but right now I really need to buckle down and create some Laini's Ladies. Ciao!
Oh, P.S. I just received my samples of the new Blackbringer audiobook! So cool! I haven't listened to it yet, but I can't wait! It's being sold primarily to the library market, so you will be more likely to find it at your library (or ask your library to order it!) than at a bookstore, which is just as well, because it's crazy expensive. Sheesh! I think it's a hundred smackeroos! SO, what I'm going to do, is I'm going to think up a contest and give one away here. So be watching. I'll come up with something!)