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Kidsday interviews author Gary Paulsen

We interviewed author Gary Paulsen when he visited the Barnes & Noble store in Huntington a few weeks ago. His latest books are “Lawn Boy Returns” and “Woods Runner.” We enjoy his books a lot.
Are you working on a new book?

I have another book coming out shortly . . . it’s a book of short stories about three kids that just keep trying to do wonderful things, but they always . . . . It’s called “Masters of Disaster.” I don’t know when that’s going to be out. But in a month, it’s done. I’m also working on a book about the South Pacific.
What is your favorite book you have written?

I would like to say “Woods Runner.” The research for “Woods Runner” allowed me to live with those guys to find what their life was about and go back and be with them. And that was really honorable. I felt humbled by it, but “Hatchet” is crazy. It’s been a bestseller for 21 years. It hit a nerve somewhere, and I still get hundreds of letters a day . . . fan letters, and have for 20 years.
Do you have an idol that you look up to?

Rosa Parks. She was a woman who would not give up her seat on the bus and started the whole civil rights movement. I don’t even believe that I come close to that kind of courage. She cleaned houses, and she just said, ‘No, I’m not going to move to the back of the bus; my feet are tired.’ And I got some guys in the Army. I had some friends in the Army who were heroes, who were killed, and were truly amazing men.
Who was your favorite author?

I don’t have favorite authors. Hemingway, and Melville wrote “Moby Dick,” which I think is an amazing book, but he was an awful man. I don’t think I have an individual author that would be my favorite. And my favorite book is . . .  actually, there was a guy named Ernest Gann, who wrote a book called “Fate Is the Hunter,” which is oddly enough about the early airlines. It sounds boring; it’s not, it’s fascinating. He was a really neat guy. Ted  Taylor, who is a writer who has passed away a year ago, was a dear friend . . . He wrote “The Cay.”
What inspires you to write?

The Army has a saying, “There’s no substitute for personal inspection at zero altitude. Just right there, be there.” So a lot of what I write about, like “Hatchet,” is based on my life. I’ve done all those things. When I lived in northern Minnesota . . . , I couldn’t be at the house, so I lived in the forest, and I skipped school. I wouldn’t go to school. I just trapped and fished. It was wrong to do that. I’m not saying you should drop everything and go hunting and fishing. Although it was fun. I had a really great time, but I flunked everything.
What are your hobbies?

I ran the Iditarod twice, and I’ve been trying to run it again for the last five years. I have 48 dogs; they live in Alaska. I love running sled dogs. I love it almost as much as writing. I sailed across the Pacific twice. Sailed to Fiji, did the southern seas of Mexico back up to Alaska, down to Hawaii and back. I love the act of sailing. I’ve got a small boat. So right now, I’ve got a shack in Alaska with 48 dogs. I have a small sailboat, a 31-footer that I fixed up that’s in Ventura, Calif., and I want to do Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America. I have a shack in the mountains of New Mexico, and I’ve got a couple of horses there.

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