Nancy, Congratulations on your nomination for the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award for the lovely This Strange Wilderness: The life and art of John James Audubon! You’ve written a lot about historical persons and especially American Indians and the American West. Why Audubon?
I began writing about the history of the American West mainly because during my travels to national parks and on a long-ago camping trip from Colorado to Alaska, I fell in love with the land–the magnificent mountains, plains, and forests. And it was Audubon’s connection with the American wilderness that drew me to him as a subject. That and, of course, his spectacular bird paintings. As a member of the Audubon Society myself, I’d always been curious about the man who inspired a powerful movement to protect and preserve wildlife and wild places.
A book and bird nerd question: Did you get to look at the double elephant folios of Birds of America for your research? I bet they would incredible to see in person!
You have a Masters in Music Education and you write history books. What a fascinating combo! Do you have any plans to write about music or musicians?
I don’t have any plans right now to write about music or musicians, but I’m not ruling it out. Aside from books, music was my first love. I used to play piano and was quite a serious cellist for a while. My first biography, however, was on the artist Mary Cassatt, and I found that I really enjoyed writing about artists. Whatever I want to say about an artist’s work, the work itself says it better!
Well, right now I’m immersed in editing a cookbook for my favorite organization, Western Writers of America. I’ve been a member since 2008, and WWA is home to an incredibly friendly and talented bunch of people. As for my next book, I haven’t decided on a topic yet, but I promise I’m going to do it soon!
— Anna Tschetter, currently between books