Diane Swanson - Author
Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, Diane Swanson has always been a "nature nut." She loved to collect rocks and watch bugs. When she grew up, she went to the University of Alberta, graduating with an honors degree and a gold medal in the social sciences. She taught in the West Indies for two years, then moved to Ottawa where she researched water resources for the Canadian government.
While raising two children, she began writing magazine articles and books for kids, focusing mostly on science and nature topics. She now lives in Victoria, British Columbia, and has had more than 70 books published --- plus more than 450 magazine articles.
Diane is a popular presenter to children in Grades K to 7, parents, teachers and librarians.
Where do you live now?
Victoria, British Columbia.
When did you start writing?
When I was seven. First published at 18.
What is the thing you like the most about creating kids' books?
I love appealing to the high level of curiosity in kids.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a shoe clerk so I could file boxes by shoe size, or a librarian so I could stamp books with a due date stamp that clipped onto a pencil.
Do you have any pets?
Not now, but I did have dogs, a cockatiel, a mouse, a hamster, fish, newts and a praying mantis.
What are your hobbies?
Hiking, piano-playing, reading.
What was your training or schooling?
I received an Honors Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta.
How did you get involved with children's books?
I had written lots of magazine articles, and was asked by a publisher to submit an outline for a book.
Do you have any tips for young creators?
Write from your heart as well as your head. If your topic doesn't excite you, it's not going to excite your readers.
Where do you work?
In an office in my basement.
How do you research or create your stories?
In three ways: observation; reading journals, reports, and books; and talking with experts.
Where do you get your ideas?
They pop out of everywhere --- newspapers, conversations, observations.
What's your greatest childhood memory?
Spending the summer with my great-aunt in Seattle when I was five. She lived near the zoo and we picnicked there often. We also spent time at a lake full of tadpoles, which we gathered for a scientist who paid us a penny apiece.
What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Running a recreational music program in an institution for delinquent girls.
What is your next project?
More books about science and natural history.
Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
Getting permission to show the buffalo that was printed on a “buffalo bill” (a 1901 U.S. $10 bill) in my book, Buffalo Sunrise, meant contacting the Counterfeit Division of the U.S. Secret Service. I still have the fax outlining how that buffalo bill had to be printed so I could avoid paying a fine of $500!