Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Shedding Light on AFTER DARK

Today is my turn to participate in a "blog tour" for my friend, David L. Harrison's new book, After Dark. I asked David to share some back story about the writing of this new poetry collection and he was happy to oblige. Welcome, David!

David Harrison writes: After Dark is a collection of poems, with accompanying back notes, featuring creatures that stir about their business after the sun goes down. It’s my 97th book and set for publication on February 25. It is beautifully illustrated by Stephanie (Steph) Laberis. 

I formally presented the proposal to Mary Colgan, who was at that time my editor at Boyds Mills Press, on May 9, 2015. She chose it as her favorite from among half a dozen ideas we’d recently discussed in a phone call. 

But After Dark started long before 2015. After Dark has always been with me. It was with me when I was six years old, camping in a tent with my parents beside White Horse Lake in Arizona, listening to bears not so far away banging on metal trash cans in futile efforts to get a free meal. With me in third grade, camping in the back yard beside a sheet draped over the clothesline and illuminated from within so I could capture night moths that came to the light. With me as I walked in the dark up a streambed looking for frogs but catching a water moccasin instead. Later, much later, I wrote Goose Lake, a book about the lake behind the house where we’ve lived for thirty years. It included this passage.

Morning News
Dusk has just enough time to pull a blanket over the day crew before full dark summons the night shift. Toothy yawns and yearning bellies greet another evening of chance. At one time or another I’ve met all the players: foxes sniffing for hidden ducklings; skunk families strolling my yard, raccoons that should be arrested for repeatedly breaking into my attic; light-blinded opossums who lose lopsided duels with cars. Deer . . . coyotes . . . stray cats . . .  they’ve all appeared on the hooded stage between my back door and the lake. Their visits are rarely marked. Only snow gives them a slate on which to write their dramas. Even then they tell you no more than they must.

credit: Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader
So in some ways, After Dark is the book I was supposed to write all along. Maybe the first 96 books were warm-ups for this one. When Mary Colgan left Boyds Mills Press, Brittany Ryan took over. When Kane bought Boyds Mills Press, Rebecca Davis became my editor. And now, dear readers, it’s in your hands. I hope you like my cast of moonlight characters. 

David L. Harrison

More about David L. Harrison:
David L. Harrison’s 97 books for children and teachers have received dozens of honors, including Society of Midland Authors award for best children’s nonfiction book, 2016; Missouri Pioneer in Education Award; and Missouri Library Association’s Literacy Award. His work has been widely translated and anthologized more than 185 times. His poems have been set to music and sandblasted into a library sidewalk. He has been featured at hundreds of conferences, workshops, literature festivals, schools, and colleges. David holds two science degrees and two honorary doctorates of letters. He’s Drury University’s poet laureate and David Harrison Elementary School is named for him.


David Harrison said...

Dear Sylvia,
Thank you so much for hosting me today for the 4th stop on my blog tour. Writing a book is one thing. Getting out the word about it is another story! I appreciate your help!
With gratitude,

Susan Hutchens said...

Loved your post today, Sylvia!

Linda B said...

I read David's Goose Lake long ago, still read a bit of it on my Kindle, & yes, David's right, the book probably started long ago. No all kids have the pleasure of those outdoor nights though I wish they did. Love your post, Sylvia!

David Harrison said...

Thank you, Linda. Goose Lake remains one of my personal favorites even though it has languished in e-book limbo these many years. I'm always delighted when someone knows the book!

skanny17 said...

I am thrilled with what I have seen on your blog tour about this sure-to-be-a-hit with kids and teacher book, David! It is filled with whimsy and fact, the illustrations are charming and fun, the language and style is sure to please. We need more nature all around us. Can't wait to hold this! And I don't think I have seen Goose Lake. Will have to remedy that one!
Janet Clare F.

David Harrison said...

Janet, I'm having so much fun following each stop on the tour to see what the host has to say and what sort of comments are left by readers. It's a ton of work for everyone involved and I'm all the more appreciative for this generous help. I'm glad you like the tour so far.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks for including me in your blog tour and sharing this bit of personal back-story, David. And thank you, Linda and Janet, for stopping by. This is a book to read by flashlight with kids you love to create a camping-like escape!

Rosi said...

I love all of David's books I've read, and that is many. I can't wait to get my hands on this one. Thanks for the post.

Jane Heitman Healy said...

Hearing the genesis of this book is so interesting and encouraging. Some ideas just won't let go. We are glad this one became AFTER DARK!