Paulsen is a master storyteller who has written more than 175 books and some 200 articles and short stories for children and adults. He is one of the most important writers of young adult literature today and three of his novels — Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room— were Newbery Honor Books. His books frequently appear on the best books lists of the American Library Association.
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Tell us what Hatchet is about.
A boy headed to visit his father survives a plane crash and must make his way, alone, in the Canadian wilderness with nothing more than a hatchet.
How was this book originally published: traditionally or independently? Recently or further in the past?
Hatchet was published 25 years ago. Bradbury published it, but that publishing house merged with Macmillan which then merged with Simon and Schuster and, at first, Puffin licensed the paperback rights and then Aladdin took them over and then, five years ago, an editor I'd worked with at another house who is now at S&S suggested doing an illustrated, annotated, anniversary edition and later, with Random House, I wrote four sequels and two nonfiction accounts (The River, Brian's Winter, Brian's Return, Brian's Hunt, Guts, and Father Water Mother Woods) of how I came to know the information I gave to Brian in Hatchet so, although I tried to be traditional, it's been a pretty post-modern publishing experience.
What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?
I think there's a great novelty about e-books and a tremendous ease and convenience. You order an e-book and boom, it's on your device almost instantly. And you can read on a phone, a designated e-reader, a tablet or a computer. Very handy.
What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?
I've always believed that the art of storytelling originated when cavemen danced around the fire telling what the hunt was like, so I'm supportive of anything that conveys story. If you can get a kid to read, it doesn't matter to me if it's hardcover, paperback, electronic, or paintings on the walls of a cave. Just get them to fall in love with a book, introduce them to the wonder of getting lost in a story. That's all that's really important.
Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? How?
Again, if you can get a kid to read and to fall in love with reading and books, in whatever format, there's nothing to complain about.
Learn more about Gary Paulsen and his books at his website. And swing by the Kids' EBook Bestseller List to see Hatchet still in the top ten, along with many other top ten authors and their books for children and young adults.