What does the fox say?
I have lost track of how many times people have asked this since Fox Talk was published. At least no one sings it at me anymore – worst ear worm ever!
So what’s with the initials? It’s not like you’re J. K. Rowling.
No, but how much do I wish I was?
I use my initials for three reasons.
- When we learned cursive writing in fifth grade, my teacher made us design our signatures. I decided that Lindsey Carmichael was way too long to write out in full each time, and I’ve been signing my name L. E. Carmichael ever since. Good decision, too. The signature boxes on forms are tiny.
- My first publications were in scientific journals. Most journals use initials, which saves space when papers have multiple authors (some papers have hundreds). This backfired a bit though, as there’s another L. E. Carmichael who does research on a totally different aspect of canid biology, and I still get requests from graduate students who want to join his lab.
- There’s another Canadian children’s writer named Leslie Carmichael, and since strangers call me Leslie half the time anyway, there was just was too much potential for confusion!
Does that mean you’re really a doctor, then?
Yup. I have a PhD from the University of Alberta, where I used DNA fingerprinting to study gene flow in northern wolves and arctic foxes. I made new knowledge and have more education than most MDs. Just don’t ask me why it hurts!
Isn’t going from science to children’s writing a pretty big switch?
You’d be surprised. Writing involves almost all of the same skills scientific research does – creativity, critical thinking, persistence, organization, and an acute sensitivity to caffeine. Publishing in science is also great training for children’s publishing. If you can survive the peer-review process, agents, editors, and book reviewers got nothin’.
I’ve got a copy of one of your books. Can I get it autographed?
First of all, thanks! I hope you’re loving the book.
Why can’t I buy all of your books at Chapters or my local independent?
A lot of my books are published by educational companies. They are not textbooks – they are as exciting and modern and beautifully-designed as bookstore nonfiction. However, they are usually sold directly to schools and libraries, and as a result, Chapters and many independents don’t stock them. If you’re interested in buying, though, every book page on my site has links to places you can shop. In many cases, direct from the publisher will be your fastest option.
I’ve written a children’s book. Will you help me get it published?
I’m sorry, but no. I’m not a publisher and I have way too many jobs already. The best advice I can give you is do your homework. Read the kind of books you want to write. Read books about writing. Learn about the publishing industry. Join writers’ groups like CANSCAIP and SCBWI – maybe I’ll see you at a meeting!