Author Anita Ganeri responds!

Anita Ganeri.jpg

Hello! I am an award-winning author of children’s information books, including the ‘Horrible Geography’ series. I studied languages at Cambridge University, but now write mostly about geography and the natural world. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

Q) When researching extreme weather how do you find the most reliable and accurate sources? Do you talk to the people who have been effected by extreme weather to gain more perspectives on the matter? I am asking this question because so many people read your books and so it’s important that everything is true and that the humour you add does not mislead readers. From versatile_molecule, Hammond Junior School, UK

A) Thank you for your question, versatile_molecule, you raise some very serious points. With extreme weather, as with all the subjects I write about, it's vital that the facts are accurate. It's also important to treat the subject respectfully, because often people have suffered, and even died, as a result of the event I'm writing about. In these cases, humour isn't appropriate, but I still try to keep the tone accessible and friendly, without it becoming too flippant or light-hearted. I take my responsibilities towards the people I'm writing for, and about, very seriously, and do a huge amount of research around the subject - from books, the internet, the amazing resources available to me at the Royal Geographical Society in London, and from talking to experts. I also research eyewitness accounts, from newspapers, websites, videos, DVDs and so on, to get as personal a perspective as possible.

Q) How long does it take to write your books on extreme weather, and how do you overcome the obstacles and challenges that you face? I am asking this question because I live in a place where I cannot access any internet connections or libraries. From credible_football, Irene Secondary School, Kenya

A) Hi credible_football, the second part of your question has really got me thinking, but let me answer the first part first! The books I write in the 'Horrible Geography' series take about a year to complete, from the initial idea to the finished file, ready to go to the printers. As I said in the previous answer, I do spend a lot of time on the research and on planning the books. Only when I'm satisfied that the book hangs together, and makes sense, do I begin the writing. Even then, I often end up rearranging the order and contents, and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting...I am very lucky to have excellent access to the internet and libraries, both on-line and physically. I think I'd struggle enormously to write these books without either of these. I'd love to hear how you cope without access to these resources. Are you hoping to become a writer?

Q) Why did you choose to write about extreme weather? I chose this question because Anita Ganeri could of chosen any genre or type of book in the world. There are many of choices of styles she could of chosen but I want to know why choose this specific one. I agree with her choice, as it is a really interesting one and teaches children new lessons. From buzzing_atom, Birchwood C of E Primary School, UK

A) Hi, buzzing_atom, thank you for your kind words. It all started when I was asked by Scholastic Children's Books to write the 'Horrible Geography' series. The editor liked my writing, and I loved the idea of writing a non-fiction book that was presented more like a fiction book, for young people to read straight through. I started off with 'Odious Oceans' and 'Violent Volcanoes'; 'Stormy Weather' was the third title. The publisher wanted the books to follow on from the 'Horrible History' and 'Horrible Science' series, so I had to choose a style of writing to match. In fact, it's a style that comes quite naturally to me, and which I really like. I am extremely proud of these books, and especially of the way they teach children new lessons, as you say, using lots of different devices, such as spoof newspaper reports, to draw readers in.

Q) My question for Anita Ganeri is How do you ensure your content suits kids? I asked this question because I noticed the cartoon characters on the covers of your books I think it will be amazing if the kids know some information about the extreme weather from a young age in a simple way that activate their minds and attract them and give them the inspiration to think creatively. From tidy_instrument, Zaitoun Prep Girls School B, Occupied Palestinian Territory

A) That's a great pseudonym, tidy_instrument, and thank you for your thought-provoking question. With any of the subjects I write about, I make sure that I get to know it as thoroughly as possible first. This is especially true of science and geography - I studied languages at university so I have had to work hard to learn the basics of these two subjects. Once I've done that, I feel more able to explain the subjects in ways which young readers will understand, with slight modifications depending on their age. I think that it's very important not to talk down to readers, and not only to provide accessible information but also to challenge their minds and imaginations. The aim of the 'Horrible Geography' books was to present the information in such a way that readers would take it in without feeling as if it was a struggle.

Q) My question for Anita Ganeri about writing about extreme weather is: Are there any types of extreme weather that not many people know about? I would like to ask this because when somebody says "extreme weather" everybody thinks of hurricanes, storms, tsunamis and tornadoes, but I wanted to know if there are any other types of extreme weather other than these and, if there is, what they are. From modest_donkey, John Ray Junior School, UK

A) Your pseudonym made me smile, modest _donkey! I must confess that I don't know the answer to your question, but it has certainly got me thinking. With climate change already having an enormous effect on the world's weather, I can only think that not only will there be an increase in extreme weather, but there may well be other types that we haven't experienced so far. What do you think? It's not exactly an answer to your question but do you know about extreme weather on other planets? For example, the temperature on Venus can reach a whopping 460 C. It's a fascinating topic.

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