But first the interview:
Carol: Why did you write this series?
Snow: I used to be a public librarian and the branch I worked at always had a number of teen and young adult patrons who were interested in joining the military. We had ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery -- the standarized test you have to pass in order to join the military) study guides to give them, but nothing else. There were books for adults about the military, but those were all memoirs, nothing career based. There were also books for young children about military careers, but they were too short, as were the few books we had for teens about military careers. Nothing gave them all the details about how to talk to a recruiter, how to prepare for basic training, what happens in basic training, information like that. I complained about the lack of books for a while, until my librarian friends finally said, "Well maybe you should write them." So I did!
Carol: What was your path to publication. Did you contact the publisher or did they contact you?
Snow: I had known about McFarland and Company for a while, through my work as a librarian. They always exhibit at American Library Association conferences and I met some of their editors there. We started talking and one of the editors said that I should let him know if I ever had any ideas for a book. I told him about my idea for the military series and McFarland liked it, so they offered me a contract.
Carol: Are you receiving royalties or a flat rate?
Snow: Royalties. No advance, unfortunately!
Carol: What did you learn as you wrote the books? About the military, our country, or yourself.
Snow: I've never done anything like this before. I'd written papers before and I am trained as a librarian, so I felt comfortable with the research aspect, but this was such a huge undertaking -- five books in a year. So, the first thing I learned is that I cannot write five books in a year! But my editors were very understanding and the delay actually allowed me to add in the changes after the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which makes the books much more up-to-date.
I also got to learn a lot more about several of the branches of the military that I did not know as well. I grew up as a Navy brat and my father was medical, so we spent a lot of time on Marine Corps bases (the Navy provides medical and religious support for the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard). On top of that, my father had been in the Army in Vietnam. Because of that, I felt like I knew at least the basics of those three branches, but I didn't have much experience with or exposure to the Coast Guard or the Air Force. I loved getting to see all five branches and learning how each of them does a specific and important mission and how all of those missions come together to create the U.S. military.
Snow: I loved getting to tour all of the recruit training facilities. All of the branches were so inviting and eager to show off their training process. It was fascinating watching the military put into practice some of the teaching methods I've heard my friends who are public school teachers talk about -- providing information in a variety of formats aimed at various learning styles, using both hands-on and classroom lecture types of teaching, using technology to supplement training, etc. Plus the Navy and Coast Guard allowed me to shoot their handgun simulators, which was very cool. The Army offered to tear gas me, but I graciously declined!
The most frustrating thing about doing the series was my own brain trying to trip me up. I am a librarian at heart, so I was hyper concerned about making sure everything I said was cited and backed up by valid sources. This slowed down the writing a lot as I was always double and triple checking my information.
Snow: Some people have asked about my research process. Basically I started with books and online sources, looking up everything I could find about current enlistment and recruit training procedures. I also contacted the public affairs departments for all five branches and asked for official approval to do the series. This approval was necessary in order to make contact with and interview recruiters and recruit training personnel. After that permission was granted, I started the interview process, meeting with recruiters from all five branches and eventually touring recruit training facilities for all five branches. (The Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force each only have one training facility, but for the Army -- which has five -- and the Marine Corps -- which has two -- I picked the locations closest to me.) As I was writing, I would contact people I'd interviewed as needed to verify information.
Carol: What was your father's reaction to the books? Any response from the military yet?
Thanks Snow, for your generosity in answering my questions and donating these books! Here is how to enter this giveaway:
DIRECTIONS:1. Follow this blog (if you are not following yet), or:
2. If you are already a follower--thank you!--then just post a link on your favorite social network site and,
3. Leave me a comment with your email address indicating which you did and what library you hope to donate the books to.
I'll select a winner on June 11, so start tweeting, following, and commenting now!