Sunday, April 24, 2016

Q&A with Elaine Scott

Elaine Scott is the author of the new children's book Our Moon: New Discoveries About Earth's Closest Companion. Her many other books include Buried Alive! and Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time. She lives in Houston, Texas.

Q: Why did you decide to write Our Moon, and did anything particularly surprise you in the course of your research for the book? 

A: My only grandson (now 7) was besotted with the moon from infancy on. We had to carry him outside, just so he could reach baby arms upward and crow, "Moon!  Moon!" 

I was fascinated with his fascination, and decided to begin some research in order to be able to answer his questions. Of course, the resulting book is still too old for him, though I just presented it to his first grade class and was delighted with their intelligent questions and observations.

Water on the moon came as a complete surprise to me, as well as its atmosphere. Before I began the research, I would have spouted the general misinformation that the moon was a dry and airless place.

Q: What are some of the most common perceptions and misperceptions about the moon?

A: Well, the moon still occupies a romanticized spot in human history. From the ancient myths about the man in the moon to classic love songs (Sinatra's "Fly Me to The Moon" comes to mind) the moon dominates popular culture. 

People rush to post their pictures of super moons, crescent moons, lunar eclipses, etc. on social media. It's still perceived as something beautiful and a tad mysterious.  

As for misperceptions, I suppose the biggest misperception is that the moon has nothing to teach us about our part of the solar system. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I presented in Our Moon. And don't get me started on those who claim the Apollo missions to the moon were all a hoax...really?????

Q: In the book, you mention the scientists who are working on research relating to the possibility that humans will live on the moon one day. Do you think this will come to pass, and what’s next for scientific exploration relating to the moon? 

A: The desire to explore is in our human DNA. Our species left Africa, moved across the plains of Eurasia, populated the Americas, and now is setting its sites on extraterrestrial locations. 

I am certain humans will return to the moon one day; absolutely certain. Which humans remains to be seen. No one country lays claim to the moon. We need to remember that.

Q: You also have another book coming out this year, a kids’ guide to using money. What can you tell us about that book? 

A: That book had its beginnings decades ago, when my oldest daughter was in about third grade. She was highly interested in money (or at least, what she perceived money could buy) and I remember a particular exchange with her that went like this:  "Mom, I need some money." (Me) "I don't have any." (Daughter) "You could cash a check, just like you did in the grocery store." (Me) "I don't have enough money left in that account to cash another check..." 

I grew up as the daughter of a banker, and I learned how money works almost by osmosis. But our family was headed by a geophysicist, and I realized after that exchange that neither of our girls had the faintest idea how any kind of bank account worked, how credit is established, etc. 

I think that memory was the beginning of Dollars and Sense:A Kid's Guide to Using, and not Losing, Your Money. (Charlesbridge; summer, 2016)

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: I'm under contract for two new books; one I'm not at liberty to announce just yet. 

But the other is a book about the New Horizons spacecraft that flew by Pluto last July and is now headed out into the edges of our solar system, and beyond. It's called To Pluto and Beyond: The Amazing Voyage of New Horizons. (Viking Penguin; September, 2017)

Q: Anything else we should know? 

A: I'm always a little surprised when I run into someone I haven't seen in awhile, and the question, "Are you still writing?" is posed in a way that suggests I should be tired of it by now. 

I can't imagine not writing. Not ever. It's not what I do; it's who I am. And I am very grateful to anyone who takes an interest in what I've written. Thank you.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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