How did you get the idea for I Survived?
When my son Dylan was 8 years old, I had a hard time getting him to read anything. I asked him what his perfect book would be? He thought about it for a minute, then said, “I want it to be a real story with a lot of action and a main character who’s a kid like me.” So I wrote the first I Survived for Dylan - about the sinking of the Titanic - and he liked it! So I had to write more if I expected him to keep reading!
Why are there only boys as the main character in I Survived?
Well actually, three I Survived’s have girls as main characters - Mt. St. Helens, Grizzly Attack, my new Molasses Flood book. I started with boys because of Dylan’s request (see above), but now I try to take turns with boys and girls as main characters. Actually, every main character in my books is usually surrounded by loved ones - boys, girls, men, women - and I create scenes where they support each other, just like we do in our own families and with our close friends.
What is your favorite I Survived book?
I really do love them all because I spend so much time writing them - probably about 2,000 hours for each book, and many, many, many drafts! One title that means a lot to me is I Survived The Joplin Tornado, 2011. After that tragedy, many people from Joplin wrote to me and invited me to come and see for myself how much destruction there was and how the community pulled together to help each other and rebuild their homes and lives. I met so many brave and lovely people in Joplin and will always remember that experience.
I have suggestions for your next I Survived book - can I share them with you?
I love hearing your ideas for new I Survived’s, and you can send them to me in a letter (see my address below). I put a lot of thought into the subject of my books, including what my readers are most interested in. I try not to write about anything too sad or violent, and I choose stories that can have a positive ending. Here are some frequent suggestions and I Survived books that cover these events:
- World War II
I Survived D-Day, 1944; Nazi Invasion, 1944 (historical fiction and graphic novel); the Hindenburg Disaster, 1937; the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941
- World War I
I Survived The Great Molasses Flood, 1919
- The Civil War
I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
- The War on Terror
I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 (historical fiction and graphic novel)
- The Revolutionary War
I Survived the American Revolution, 1776
I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79; the Eruption of Mt. St. Helens, 1985
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005; the Joplin Tornado, 2011; the Children’s Blizzard, 1888; the Japanese Tsunami, 2011, I Survived the Galveston Hurricane 1900
- Fires, Earthquakes, Disasters
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1212 (historical fiction and graphic novel); the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906; the Great Chicago Fire, 1871; the Molasses Flood, 1919; I Survived The California Wildfires, 2018
- Respect for Wildlife
I Survived Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967; the Shark Attacks of 1916 (historical fiction and graphic novel)
There are also four non-fiction books - I Survived True Stories - that cover some of the same and other stories in more detail, with a lot of pictures and illustrations:
- I Survived True Stories #1 - Five Epic Disasters In this book I cover the Titanic, the Children's Blizzard, the Henryville Tornado, the Molasses Flood and the Japanese Tsunami.
- I Survived True Stories #2 - Nature Attacks! In this book I cover, the Shark Attacks, the Eruption of Mt. Tambora, the Peshtigo Fire (bigger than the Chicago Fire), and the deadly Box Jellyfish.
- I Survived True Stories #3 - Tornado Terror In this book I go into a lot of detail about two deadly and destructive tornadoes from different times in US history: the Tri-State Tornado of 1925 and the Joplin Tornado of 2011.
- I Survived True Stories #4 – Courageous Creatures In this book I share my research about real animals who’ve faced real disasters, including a carrier pigeon in World War I, two dolphins who were left for dead, baby cheetahs who lost their mother and penguins who survived an oil spill.
Here’s my address for letters:
New York, NY 10012