Q&A with Charles Salter
Q: What inspired you to create this series?
A: For the past few years I have become increasingly concerned about the trend in our society to infantilize young people and make them dependent on the ‘nanny state’ rather than independent and mature adults who can help lead our society into the future. I hope my series will help young people realize they do possess heroic qualities and can make a difference by standing for what they believe and seeking to help others.
Q: What is your writing process like? Did you plot the entire story of The Secret of Bald Rock Island before you began writing or did you come up with it as you wrote?
A: I know some people like to outline their entire novel before starting to write, but I like to begin by dreaming up imaginative new characters and putting them into an exciting new situation or crisis. They soon begin to take on a life of their own and seem almost real to me, and they’ll tell me how they want to resolve the problem. Early on they will tell me what the ending is, but it is always an exciting adventure for us to discover together how they will get there.
Q: Who inspired the character of Kelcie?
A: Kelcie is a composite of my two daughters. Out of the entire series so far, volume #1 is the only one set in the past—about one generation ago. At that time, my now-adult daughters were children and we often went to Maine (the location for this novel). We saw and experienced the kinds of places described in the book!
Q: What independent traits does Kelcie demonstrate that you would like young children to emulate?
A: Kelcie may be only ten years old, but she knows how to think for herself and decide how she can best help others. She is a true “Kare Kid” who not only has a caring attitude towards family, friends, animals, and the environment, but she translates that concern into real action to accomplish her goals. In the surprise ending of the book—when she finally confronts the mysterious island creature face to face—her beliefs and principles about life and nature lead her to suggest an amazing solution to the adults on the scene.
Q: What do you hope both your young readers and the parents of those readers take away from the books?
A: Family and friends in this series clearly cherish and care for each other. I would hope these stories would encourage both parents and young readers to do the same. I would hope that young readers would learn the importance of going beyond having a good attitude about others and translating that into real action to help when needed. And I hope parents will learn the wisdom of sometimes stepping back and letting kids work through their own solutions to life’s problems and issues…yet also be available when those kids ask for help.
Q: The Secret of Bald Rock Island is the first of the Kare Kids Adventures Series. When will the next installment come out?
A: In book #2, Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place, Kelcie is now grown up and her 9-year-old daughter is the star. Charlotte discovers a serious environmental danger in the woods and does everything she can to alert authorities and rescue two trapped puppies. This book is due out on July 1 of this year. In book #3, How Three Brothers Saved the Navy, Charlotte’s three cousins uncover a terrorist plot to destroy their navy father’s ship. They show great courage and ingenuity in ferreting out the details and then thwarting the plot. That book is due out in early August. Charlotte’s twin brother and sister should be coming along some time in early fall in book #4, in The Travel Twins and the Lost Secret of the Vikings. This book’s plot unfolds on a scary (but real) train winding its way high in the beautiful mountains of Norway. Felons with mysterious motives have stolen the famed Leif Erikson Sunstone from their uncle’s Viking museum in Oslo, and the twins decide to get it back.
In all of these books, the Kare Kids can’t rely on magic or super powers to solve their problems. They are realistic kids who live in the real world…BUT they know how to act independently and to translate caring from a mere attitude into genuine action to solve the problems they encounter.