I’ve been getting asked this a lot lately. It usually comes after I answer the question, “What have you been up to?”
I've yet to find the perfect witty response. I’ve tried “it’s more like a coloring book on steroids” and “come for the coloring, stay for the fun facts” … or sometimes I just lower my voice suspiciously and say “ohhh, you’ll see.” More often than not, I just describe what it is like anyone else would do — “it’s an awesome coloring book for folks of all ages with a bunch of cool information about the featured species!”
Writing this kind of stuff is what I do by day, so the biggest challenges were familiar ones: research “rabbit holes,” temporary writer’s block, dogs that want to go for walks – now!, and of course, the deadline.
The deadline came quicker than usual, as I was scheduled to leave for vacation and would need to finish before I left. But the beauty of tight deadlines is you don't have time to waste on bad ideas, so you have to come up with bad ideas quickly! Wait … that’s not what I meant. What I meant to say is deadlines keep you on task.
I was pretty familiar with many of the species in the book like jaguars and Mexican gray wolves. Others, like the Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly and the New Mexico jumping mouse, were new to me. But no matter how many times I’ve written about a species, I always start at the beginning. I triple and quadruple-check all “facts,” and read several descriptions of whatever phenomena or behavior I am writing about. Science is always moving forward, and we’re constantly discovering more pieces of the puzzle, so you’ve got to be thorough and up-to-date.
What was also new (and extra fun) about this project was the coloring book component. I love that people will be contemplating the facts they just read, as they choose colors and patterns and create their own mini-masterpieces. With a little help from Melissa Bailey, of course.
I can’t wait for the next one!
Find my coloring book here: Endangered Animals Of the Southwestern United States
To visit Matt's author page follow this link: Matthew Strangwayes
Follow these links for more information on the species in the book: