Let's welcome Nancy Bo Flood to the LaunchPad this morning! Nancy graduated from VCFA in 2007. She is the author of a variety of award-winning books, most recently, Warriors in the Crossfire and Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo (NCTE Notable Poetry Book, IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, 2011 & 2014). Plus she's the greatest-- just like her books!
Through photographs, verse, and narration, this book celebrates the most essential ingredient to life: water. Author and educator Nancy Bo Flood and award-winning photographer Jan Sonnenmair combine imagination and information to explore this ever-changing yet essential element. WATER RUNS THROUGH THIS BOOK is much more than an exploration of how water impacts life on Earth. It is a guide for how readers of all ages can become conservationists and protectors of this endangered resource.
WATER RUNS THROUGH THIS BOOK has already received rave reviews like this one:
"Conflicts are increasing over the ownership and use of something we often take for granted: water. In her newly released book, Water Runs Through This Book (Fulcrum, 2015), Nancy Bo Flood takes an inventive approach to exploring different perspectives on this essential resource. Through verse, narration, and eye-catching photographs by Jan Sonnenmair, the book is both a celebration and a guide for how readers of all ages can help conserve this endangered resource."
Which character was your favorite to write? What was your approach?
In this information book the main character is water. “We are water.”
My challenge was to create a character as complex and interesting as any character in a novel with problems, obstacles, and a heart – a character the reader would soon come to care about. I wanted my reader to not only learn about water, but also to feel a sense of wonder and a sense of concern.
I began with developing identity. A character in a book becomes real when the reader identifies with the character. So I began: “You are water. Even your bones. Your brain is mostly water – eight out of every ten molecules in your head are water. But I did not find my beginning until after many revisions.
Next I wanted to develop surprise. When we cry, our tears contain hormones that are part of healing. Flamingoes cry. Their tears contain salt. “Flamingos are one of the few land creatures that can drink salt water and live.”
Imagine, the water we drink is as old as the dinosaurs and meanwhile astronomers are searching the universe for signs of water because where there is water, there can be life. But we are polluting and destroying this precious resource. Can clean, drinkable water become extinct?
Drinkable water – the wonder of it and fragility of it – that realization was the initial spark that ignited two years of research and writing about water.
Breathing clean air should be the right of every child. Drinking clean water also.
What were your goals for the book?
My last goal was my initial goal, wanting the reader to care enough about water to want to conserve and protect water. If we understand the importance of water and feel the beauty of water, how can we not care about water?
“The Navajo people share this story: Earth fell in love with Sky, and Sky with Earth. There was such joy! Their happiness filled the clouds with laughing, splashing rain.
And in the end, perhaps beauty is water’s deepest mystery.
And so, thank you, for listening, reading, and thinking about water…. “Water talking with water.”
What nugget of craft advice do you carry with you from VCFA?
The nugget of craft advice came from Ellen Howard – find the through line; keep your focus. Then ask, what will keep the reader turning pages?
What would be your dream swag for this book?
The swag that I would give away would be an empty one gallon plastic container and this question printed on the side: how many containers are you willing to carry every day for your water?
What was your time like at VCFA?
Vermont College is an amazing community of writers mentoring writers. The best memory was my final week of listening to classmates read selections from their best works. Tears and laughter, happy congratulations, hugs, celebratory toasts of wine-filled glasses, and just plain awe. What accomplishments, what improvements, thinking back at those first workshops and the manuscript messes!
Do you have any advice for incoming students?
My advice to prospective of beginning students – keep writing. The reading and writing-revising-rethinking is unrelenting but nothing else will shape and polish your writing skills. The combination of continuously reading, analyzing, critiquing, work-shopping, listening to talks and readings, and then in the evenings, taking long walks to re-think character development, story line, or how to create both surprise and satisfaction. The Vermont program is deep-core amazing and changed my writing career. My first published work from the program, Warriors in the Crossfire, received a variety of awards. Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo resulted from a graduate semester of poetry work with Julie Larios. This hybrid book of nonfiction, poetry, and photographs, garnered even more awards.
Thanks so much for dropping by, Nancy! Nancy's next book will be SOLDIER SISTER, FLY HOME, which will be published by Charlesbridge in 2016. WATER RUNS THROUGH THIS BOOK is published by Fulcrum Publishers and is available in bookstores and libraries now. You can learn more about Nancy and her books at www.nancyboflood.com