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nonfiction for younger readers, necessary to interview expert?

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Hi everyone, I wrote a short piece, 350 words on a topic that I researched through books and journal articles. I was thinking of saying something like, according to expert "so and so" insert fact here. I know I've seen that done in adult pieces when referring to an expert's book or article in a paraphrased way. It looks strange in a piece for younger readers. Do you think I should interview this expert just to get a quote? I'm wondering if an interview is even needed on a short piece where I can get most information from written materials. I don't want to waste his time. What do you think?
#1 - October 07, 2008, 05:58 AM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

Member
Poster Plus
Just my two cents here...

When I wrote a particular short, non-fiction piece for Highlights, I read everything I could on my topic. I also had pages an pages of interview notes from two experts. In the end, I used only one, fairly short quote from one of them. I don't know that that one quote added all that much to the piece, but it showed my readers (as well as Highlights) that I had done my homework. Even with a short piece, don't assume you have all the info from books and such. My interviews with the two experts gave me a much better understanding of my topic and took me in directions I hadn't considered. So, in other words, even if you don't use a quote, talking to an expert isn't a waste of anyone's time - You might learn something  and the expert gets the opportunity to share their passion.

Now, sometimes the trick is getting the expert quote that's appropriate for your young readers! I think that's when you can start paraphrasing.   
#2 - October 07, 2008, 07:38 AM
To the Stars! (Charlesbridge)
Aviation: Cool Women Who Fly (Nomad Press)
Eliza Bing Is (Not) A Big, Fat Quitter (Holiday House)

that makes a lot of sense, thanks!
#3 - October 07, 2008, 11:20 AM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

Lisa

Guest
Yes, yes, yes & yes!

Children's mags almost always require it, so it doesn't sound like a report or info anyone can get from the internet or encylopedia. Plus, kids love interviews and quotes and opinions from an official eye witness!

Highlights rejects manuscripts that fail to do this...don't forget a bibliography too....here's some good info:

http://www.fionabayrock.com/ARTICLECerritoBib.htm

Lisa
#4 - October 08, 2008, 06:02 AM

thanks for the link. I will get brave and interview expert! I've already got an extensive bibliography, but adding interviews can only help.  I don't know why this is so hard for me. Part of me is worried I won't seem professional enough, since I'm writing on speculation, and part of me is afraid that we won't be able to connect when my youngest is in preschool so I will have to conduct an interview with him screaming in the background as he often does when I'm on the phone. Sigh.
#5 - October 08, 2008, 06:25 AM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

Member
Poster Plus
Karen, if you're stressed about conducting an interview, you could always do it via email. I know there a lot of valid reasons for doing one in person or over the phone, but, in a pinch an email interview can work. Plus, some experts prefer them because they can answer questions when it's convenient and gives them time to give a thoughtful response. The added bonus is that you can print out the notes.

And if you end up doing a direct interview, just remember my experience. My first in person interview was with a former astronaut. The morning of the interview, my daughter woke up sick so my husband had to cover while I dashed off to the meeting. I was tired and stressed and so nervous that I talked through most of the interview instead of listening and asked lame, rambling questions!! (I cringe now when I listen to the tape.) But as terrible as I thought it went, things turned out well. The subject was pleased with the article and the two of us eventually teamed up to write a book together. 
#6 - October 08, 2008, 07:06 AM
To the Stars! (Charlesbridge)
Aviation: Cool Women Who Fly (Nomad Press)
Eliza Bing Is (Not) A Big, Fat Quitter (Holiday House)

Wow Car, that is inspiring!
#7 - October 08, 2008, 07:54 AM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

Lisa

Guest

Karen,

I interview via email most of the time too. It's relaxing for both sides. I refer to myself as a freelance writer and I explain the process of getting published and how long it takes, so the expert doesn't expect to read about it the following week! I send a thank you note and a copy of the article when published. I recently had an article that didn't get bought for two years, I check back with my experts (if they are in certain positions quoted in the story) just to make sure they are still at that workplace in that same position. You don't want your story to be inaccurate.

 I also query my subject now before writing, that saves lots of time. If the subject isn't snatched up, then I move on...lots better than writing & editing a full blown manuscript, only to have it looked at 3x a year due to "exclusive" guidelines and then ultimately, rejected:( That's a sure fire way to burn a writer out and blow the ole' self confidence:)

Hope that helps you find a way to interview and write with a pre-schooler in the house;)

Lisa
#8 - October 09, 2008, 06:33 AM

the few people i have asked for interviews ahead of time, in the case that a query gets picked up, i have given the option of email if it's more convenient and they all (3 of them) have said phone is better for them. Of course i haven't yet heard back on those queries so maybe nothing will come of it.
#9 - October 09, 2008, 06:54 AM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

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