Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on the author of many children’s and adult books about animals, Sy Montgomery. Sy, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
I write about animals and their relationships with people for both adults and children. In researching articles, scripts and my 30 published books, I’ve been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire, hunted by a tiger in India, and worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes. I learned scuba to get up close and personal with live great white sharks and octopuses, ridden camels in snow leopard country in Mongolia and hiked into the trackless cloud forest of Papua New Guinea in search of tree kangaroos.
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
If a book of mine is not on the shelf, your local indie bookstore can easily order it for you. All my books are available online and many of them are probably in your local library.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
My website, symontgomery.com, has excerpts from all my books, links to buy them, an active News section, my biography (symontgomery.com/aboutsy), and more. I’m on FB (@SyTheAuthor), insta (@sytheauthor) and twitter (@SyTheAuthor).
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from [newest release/spotlighted release]?
The Hummingbirds’ Gift is the true story of how I was privileged to help my friend the bird rehabilitator Brenda Sherburn La Belle rescue, raise and release two orphaned baby Allen’s hummingbirds—a project that entailed, among other things, feeding them every 20 minutes from dawn to dusk with a syringe we had to poke into their gaping tiny beaks! If we didn’t feed them enough, they would starve; but if we fed them too much, they could literally POP! These babies had hatched from eggs small as Navy beans; they were born the size of bumblebees. And yet these tiny creatures grow into the only birds who can hover, the fastest birds on Earth (in terms of body lengths they can travel per second), and some of the longest distance migrants on the planet. Their gift to us was letting us have a hand in the miracle of their lives. It is really the story of a resurrection!
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I love the research—because in my case this entails not just interviews and library research, but planning expeditions to remote locations, including the Gobi desert of Mongolia, the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and Peru, the Australian outback, and scuba diving in both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean, to be with the animals about whom I write. The best part? Being with the animals—whether they are cheetahs in Namibia, tigers in West Bengal, Allen’s hummingbirds in California, or my border collie, Thurber, at home.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
My next book is a picture book about a true story—a sea captain who made friends with a seagull. It’s called THE SEA CAPTAIN AND THE SEAGULL, featuring art by Amy Schimmler.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
People often think me fearless because I swim with sharks and work with snakes and cuddle with Giant Pacific octopuses. But I do have one fear: that I won’t be able to do justice to my animal teachers in my books. Here is what I do to get past that: When I can’t believe in myself as a writer—and even after 30 books I sometimes have my doubts—I believe in my teachers. I believe in the animals and people who helped me to see the amazing scenes and events and insights revealed in the journey researching the book. And then my soul is at ease, and I can write.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions and to be interviewed for our YouTube Channel, Sy! Everyone can take a look at more wonderful answers to questions from Sy when they view Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester YouTube.