Reed recently had a chance to interview one of his favorite authors–Gary Paulsen! Gary Paulsen has written more than 175 books, three of which were Newberry Honor winners: Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room. Read Gary’s answers to Reed’s questions.
REED: Hi Mr. Paulsen, I’m Reed and I work for the National Geographic Kids DogEared Blog. I’ve done reviews on two of your books: the new one Woods Runner, and Hatchet. Is it OK if I ask you some questions?
GARY: You bet!
REED: What were you like as a kid?
GARY: I’m going to try and be as honest as I can be. I was a really poor student and I had a rough childhood. I barely made it through high school. I was a poor reader until a public librarian turned me on to reading. That saved my life.
REED: Who was your favorite author when you were a kid?
GARY: I had a bunch, but ultimately Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick. It was an adventure story. It changes each time you read it. I’ve read it 12 times, maybe.
REED: How did you get into writing?
GARY: I read like a wolf eats. I became an engineer and
worked in electronics and aerospace. I was sitting in a tracking
station one night, and it’s weird: I knew I had to be a writer. I’ve
never looked back.
REED: What’s a normal day like for you?
GARY: It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m sailing, I’ll
frequently write when I’m sailing. If I’m home in New Mexico or in the
shack in Alaska, I’ll just sit down and write at the computer. I work
all the time, and if I’m not writing I read other writers.
REED: I’ve read some of your book Guts. Which of your moose attacks was the most serious?
GARY: I had two really bad ones. One I was sound asleep
in a sleeping bag with a dog team in Alaska, and the dogs never made a
sound–I woke up and a moose cow was stomping on me, just out of
nowhere. The other one, I was going through the woods with my sled, and
there was something rattling in the sled bag. It was pitch dark. I
reached down to stop the rattling, and a 400-pound cow took me off the
sled, and got me down, and started stomping on me.
REED: What’s your favorite thing about sled racing?
GARY: The dogs. I absolutely love the dogs. I still have 48 dogs in Alaska right now. They’re way more than people think. Dogs are just amazing. They’re better than people, in all respects. They have unconditional love, which people have not learned to do yet.
REED: Which was your favorite sled dog, and why?
GARY: Cookie was my leader in my first Iditarod and also
my leader on the trap line in Minnesota. During the Iditarod, I got
about halfway somehow and couldn’t do anymore. I went up and told her
“I can’t do this anymore, you’ve gotta to do it.” And she did! I did
what she said, and we came in 42nd place out of 73 teams.
REED: What was your most memorable moment while hunting or fishing or dogsledding?
GARY: Cookie saved my life once. I was trapping beaver. I took one step and went down in 12 feet of water. It was about 30 below outside above the water. I saw a rope that had come with me off the sled, and it started to move. Cookie got the team up and pulled me out of the hole. When I retired her, I brought her in the house and she never went out again. She just became a dear friend. She was wonderful.
REED: You’ve written a lot of books. Where do you get your ideas?
GARY: A lot of them are from my own life. I’ve had a very active life. Stories are like a river that flows–you dip a bucket in it.
REED: You’ve won a lot of book awards. Which is your favorite?
GARY: It would have to be the Newberry Honor. I’ve had
three of them. They have profound effect on your life. It’s people who
know books selecting what they think is one of the better books that
REED: What’s the biggest fish you’ve caught?
GARY: I had a marlin on the line once! He spit it out, but I bet he weighed 400 pounds.
REED: Thank you Mr. Paulsen, for your time! Thanks a lot.
GARY: You’re very welcome.
Have you read any of Gary Paulsen’s books? Which is your favorite?