Cincy Chic: You are the author of two books for "tweens," Wildfire Run, and the just released Wolf Storm. How did you decide to become an author of this particular age group?
Dee Garretson: When my son was about five, my husband and I started reading the first Harry Potter book to him, and I was hooked. It’s fun to write for this age group because I can call on all the adventures and experiences I wanted to have as a child, back when I didn’t know or fear the consequences. Part of me still wants to be that explorer or astronaut or time traveler that I thought I would grow up to become. I just know there is a time machine somewhere. Plus, I don’t like to write or read books that make me cry, so I don’t feel like I have to add in angst or sadness to these sorts of books. But I don’t want to limit myself to one type of story, so I have just published a Kindle ebook and soon to be a paperback of a historical mystery for adults called The Gargoyle in the Seine. I need to write a variety of things to keep my enthusiasm up, because it’s quite an effort to finish a book.
Cincy Chic: Your formal background is in International Relations and Landscape design. What led you to abandon those paths and become an author?
Garretson: I have a short attention span. I tend to get very enthused about certain things and throw myself into them. Then, once I’ve done what I want to accomplish, I want something new and shiny to engage my attention. Right now I’m writing a different sort of story for kids, science fiction rather than outdoor adventure, and I’m also about to get out a historical mystery for adults, so even with this current path, I know I’m going to write all sorts of things. I always wanted to be a writer, along with a time traveler, and since life is short, it’s important to go for your dreams.
Cincy Chic: Wildfire Run is an exciting adventure tale involving the son of the President of the United States and his friends involved in a disaster at Camp David, and are left to their own devices in order to overcome obstacles and survive. Please tell us about Wolf Storm, your latest adventure tale.
Garretson: The short version is "Sometimes filming a movie can go very wrong…and turn all too real.” The longer version is here: Stefan is an ordinary kid cast in an extraordinary role, that of one of the leads in a blockbuster sci fi movie set in a remote mountain location. He thinks it’s going to be a dream come true, until he realizes the difficulties of movie-making, included dealing with his costar, a famous child actress used to getting her own way. He’s excited to be working with the trained wolves on set, but then it starts to snow and doesn’t stop. When disaster occurs, the kids are left by themselves except for one elderly actor they must save along with themselves and the wolves. Besides the cold and the injuries, they also have to deal with the native wolves who will do anything they can to get rid of the invaders on their territory.
Cincy Chic: Your books are extremely detail oriented and technically correct. You obviously enjoy the research part of your job. How much time goes into preparation of each book?
Garretson: For both books I did about a month of research and outlining before I started writing. Once into the story I found small details I needed to research as well. For Wildfire Run, I read lots of books about the Secret Service, and biographies of people who had been to Camp David, to glean tiny bits of information I could use. For Wolf Storm, since it takes place on a movie set, I watched many behind-the-scenes DVDs of movies. I also wanted to mention Gregory Peck in the book (I’m a big fan), so I just had to watch several of his movies to pick the right one to use. Tough job!
Cincy Chic: In addition to being an author, you’re a busy mom of two kids. Do your own childrens’ personalities ever play into your characters?
Garretson: I don’t use my own children’s personalities much, because that just feels odd to me. My kids are great for giving me a feel for exactly what kids would think is exciting, and being around them when they are with their friends gives me a feel for accurate kid dialogue. For years, I’ve been one of the moms who drives on field trips, and eavesdropping on the conversations is invaluable. I do add in aspects of things my kids like. In Wildfire Run, the 12-year-olds get to drive jeeps and trucks around, and I put that in because I knew my own son would have loved to have been able to do something like that. My daughter loves pugs, so I added a pug into Wolf Storm. The dog is named Mr. Snuggums, and that came from some ideas my daughter gave me for appropriate pug names.