When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week my friend and prolific children’s book author, Darcy Pattison, is sharing the WHY she wrote her newly released book, FEVER. Take it away, Darcy…
FEVER by Darcy Pattison
When I write a children’s nonfiction picture book, I am definitely catching a story.
I look for topics that will appeal to elementary kids, their teachers and parents. The story of a Nobel Prize winning scientist is a story of success! The perseverance needed to achieve remarkable results often adds a layer of character development.
But before I commit to a topic, I need to see and understand the story. For me, the narrative storytelling is important, even in a nonfiction book. FEVER tells the story of Tu Youyou, a Chinese scientist who worked under the Chinese Communist government of the 1960s and 1970s.
She was assigned to Project 523, so named because it was conceived on May 23. China’s ally, North Vietnam asked for help during its war with South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese soldiers were dying of malaria. In fact, more soldiers died of malaria than died in the conflict in Vietnam. If doctors and researchers could cure malaria, the war efforts would be more successful. It’s a strange beginning to a story of healing.
Youyou made many sacrifices to carry out the research. For example, at one point, she didn’t see her two young daughters for three years. Instead, she sweated over vats of plants and chemicals, trying to extract compounds to test against malaria. She volunteered to test the medicines on herself.
The research was fascinating. At one point, I had to look for reference material of the time period for the illustrator. I found an image of a poster of how to prevent hepatitis. It’s fascinating to see how the Chinese medical system was depicted at this time.
The story of Youyou’s discovery of artemisium, a drug that cures malaria, is a strong story of perseverance, survival, failures, new attempts and finally success. It inspires me to keep going when times are hard.
Here is the book blurb:
“People were dying! Malaria is a deadly mosquito-borne disease that causes fevers, chills and often death. In 1969, the People’s Republic of China created a task force to find a cure.
Working in the 1970s, Chinese scientist Tu Youyou reviewed the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) scrolls for ideas on where to start her research. She found 640 traditional treatments, and methodically started extracting compounds and testing them against malaria. Would any of them work?
Courage, resilience, and perseverance–follow the struggles of Nobel Prize scientist Tu Youyou as she works to find a cure to malaria.”
Fiction Notes blog has provided writers with tips, strategies and inspiration since 2007. Our motto is “Believe in Your Story.” Storyteller, writing teacher, Queen of Revisions, children’s book author and founder of Mims House publisher, Darcy Pattison has recently been motivated by zombies (which helped her meet a goal of running a 5K) and chocolate (which keeps her young). Always active, before her tenth birthday, she (almost) climbed the Continental Divide, turning back at the last 20 yards because it was too steep and great climbing shoes hadn’t been invented yet. This year, she biked in Poland and hiked the Rockies (her first 14-er! Made it to 13.). On her bucket list is kayaking the Napali Coast, eating curry in Bombay, and catching a glimpse of a puma in South America.