Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Naturalist and Nature author Jim Arnosky. Jim has written and illustrated 104 books on nature subjects and has illustrated 46 other books written by various authors. He has over 142 books published world wide. They have been translated into 10 languages and published in Braille.
He has been honored by the Washington Post and Children’s Literary Guild as non-fiction author of the year, given the first ever lifetime achievement award for excellence in science illustration by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the recipient of the Christopher Medal, Orbis Pictus Honor and many Outstanding Science Books award from the National Science Teachers Association. Jim’s books on fishing are included in the International Game Fishing Hall of Fame Library.
In 1987, he wrote and starred in his own PBS series Drawing From Nature (aired national and now available to be streamed world- wide on VPBS From the Archives/ Drawing From Nature with Jim Arnosky. He also co-created another national PBS Series Backyard Safari which featured his book character – a nature guide named Crinkleroot featured in 13 of Jim’s books. Jim and his work have been featured on the popular show Reading Rainbow series.
Jim, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
Besides in all the wonderful independent book stores, like Annies Book Stop, my books are available from Amazon and also Goodread in their Jim Arnosky Classic Collection.
They are also directly available from Putnam’s, Sterling, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, Richard Owens, Onion River Press and other publishers.
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?
My favorite part of being a writer is the act of writing, living in a book from day to day and having it develop in my mind, keeping it to myself, like having a shiny new coin in your pocket and feeling richer because it’s there.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
When the time is right to share, I love working with my editor. Some of my editors I have worked with for years and on many books. We learn how each of us thinks and understand criticism as a professional not personal thing. A good editor can get a writer through difficult times in the creative process.
The best piece of advice I can offer other writers is to write every day and keep quiet about what you are writing. Talking about a work in progress only weakens its power.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
Living in New England has had a peaceful effect on my work. I’ve created over 90 of my books in the 46 years we have lived here on the farm, as well as worked in creating a PBS series with Lancit Media featuring my character Crinkleroot and another PBS series based on my now classic book “Drawing From Nature” in which I starred.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I don’t discuss books in progress and my newest book is one that we have just begun to submit to publishers. Discussing it in an interview would, at this stage be presumptuous and worse, bad luck.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
When I’m not working, I’m outdoors. My favorite activities are boating, fishing, and tending the fields (mowing). I make time for these things the same way I make time for writing or painting. I do each when I can take enough time to do each well and I enjoy myself while doing the things I love which, of course, includes my work, either writing or creating art.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I write in long hand, with the pad on my lap, while I’m sitting on a comfortable chair. No desk. I am at the drawing board or easel for hours when I’m making the art for my books. Writing is more casual and less demanding than sitting at a desk or perched on a stool at my easel. A lot of my writing is done spontaneously while I’m doing something else. I keep a small notepad in my pocket for these writing moments.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
When I’m painting I listen to music and often apply brushstrokes in rhythm with the song or instruments in the music. When I’m writing, I’m oblivious to my surrounding and can write even while a baseball game is on TV.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
The only animals we have ever had were our sheep during the decades that we raised them and the dogs that protected the flock. They were all lovely sweet dogs and having them around inspired some of my writing.
Jim, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer so many of our questions! Below are just a few of Jim’s great Children’s books!