I really like the concept for the new children's urban fantasy thriller adventure WhipEye by Geoffrey Saign. The book is meant for ages 9 and combines fantasy elements, nature and wildlife, and the importance of love and intuition in children’s lives. Intuition is so devalued in modern times. It's considered irrational, but that's so untrue. Intuition is another form of our bodily and spiritual intelligence. Connection with nature helps to nurture it. Because it's important for everyone to be connected with nature, I decided to feature WhipEye and interview the author.
Samantha and her neighbor, Jake, have no idea that Samantha’s best friend, a parrot named Charlie, is a thousand years old. Charlie is also at the center of a secret battle between magical creatures and an ancient, evil man. When Charlie asks Samantha and Jake to protect him, they are chased by monsters from both sides. To save Charlie, and two worlds, Samantha and Jake have twenty-four hours to figure out how to use the supernatural staff, WhipEye, and find the courage to confront what they fear most…
1. Tell me more about research that reveals the negative impacts of children's disconnection from Nature.
I work in special education, which is SEL based—social emotional learning, so they are always looking at what impacts learning positively or negatively. There is a growing research in conservation psychology, and mainstream psychology, that shows kids have less stress when exposed to nature, and that healthy minds require time in nature. This is true even if it means looking at a tree outside a window, and is significantly higher if kids are actually outside in nature. Something about exposure to myriad numbers of details in a forest, for example, causes the brain to relax. Also, if you’re in nature you’re probably moving; hiking, walking, swimming, climbing, and exercise has the same effect on stress—lessening it. Conversely, if kids spend even an hour a day in front of a TV or computer game it slows brain development and does not relieve stress.
2. Do you think that growing up in our society diminishes children's natural intuition?
Our society is largely based on marketing and selling and telling kids to follow fads or chase outer things that will make them happy. By doing that, we are depriving our children of their innate ability to see, understand, and follow their own path, their own sense of what’s best for them. Intuition is about the inner path we all need to see to be happy and fulfilled, and kids are told all their lives, into adulthood, that experts know best what they should do. Obviously we need information, but the process of living requires tapping into our own intelligence and trusting that. Decisions then don’t really exist. You see the path that is best and go that way. Kids need this information early on, and help to understand how to use it in their lives.
3. Is WhipEye the first book you've published?
I’ve published an adult environmental book; Green Essentials: What You Need to Know About the Environment, and two middle grade non-fiction books; African Cats and Great Apes. WhipEye is my first published novel.
4. When did you decide to write a middle grade book with a message about connecting with Nature?
I began WhipEye with the image of a boy walking into a pet store to talk to a parrot. Later the boy character was changed to a girl. I thought it would be cool if she was an animal nerd, someone who loved wildlife. There is so much focus on pets, and not enough on the beauty of wildlife. Once I decided the parrot was also ancient, the rest of the story flowed from that. I have always loved and valued nature and wildlife, so putting those elements in was easy. Write what you know and love is good advice.
5. What in your background led you to write WhipEye?
I have a degree in biology, and I also teach a self-awareness class to 18-21 year old transitional students where we focus on healthy lifestyles and what’s makes people happy. Also, I love nature and wildlife, and spend time hiking, swimming, and sailing. There are a lot of things that can create stress and pressure for children, and one simple remedy is to spend more time in nature.
6. In WhipEye, intuition is a key factor for the characters. What made you write about that?
Children need to understand that confusion, difficult decision making, and stress are often reduced considerably if they can access their own gut sense of things, and their own intuition, their own connection to the universe, so to speak. If they learn to trust intuition, they will know what to do or what not to do in all situations, and life becomes more of a joy of following your own path instead of what other people or society say you should do.
7. Any additional comments?
I hope readers enjoy WhipEye! It’s an exciting thriller, and a unique blend of nature, wildlife, action, and suspense—with some very odd characters that I love.
That's all. Thank you for your time.
Publisher: KiraKu Press
Publication date: July, 2014
List Price: $9.99, eBook ($2.99)
Category: Ages 9 and up
Genre: Urban fantasy/suspense thriller/action adventure
Trade Soft Cover: 301 pages (6 X 9)
About the Author:
Geoffrey Saign can often be found looking for interesting critters, and magic, while swimming, snorkeling, sailing, or hiking in the woods. His passion for nature and wildlife led to his nationally endorsed book, Green Essentials: What You Need to Know About the Environment, as well as his books African Cats and Great Apes. He has assisted in field research with hummingbirds and humpback whales, and sailed as far away as Australia. With more than twenty years of experience working in special education, he has taught adults and children everything from sailing to novel writing. He won the Shabo Award in 2010. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. You can visit Geoff at www.geoffreysaign.net
A note from the blogger: Be the first to know about my new releases and special sales at Brave Luck Books. Join the Readers' List. Ebooks and audiobooks available worldwide. Print in select countries.