From Fiction to Non-Fiction, author Carlie Sorosiak shares the journey as her new book, Roar Like a Lion, hits the information bookshelves in time for National Non-Fiction November. FCBG can confirm it is a roaring success!
As a kid, I read tons of non-fiction. It wasn’t unusual for me to stay up late with a flashlight in bed, poring over science books about vampire bats, dolphins, and wolves. At one point in my childhood, I sincerely believed that I could become a wolf, if I gleaned enough knowledge about them – and followed a wolfish lifestyle (which, at eight years old, basically just involved a lot of howling). Unfortunately for tiny Carlie, the wolf transition never came, but that love of non-fiction stayed with me.
I just never considered writing it until recently.
I think of myself primarily as a fiction writer – or, more specifically, an animal-fiction writer. My first middle grade novel, I, Cosmo, is narrated by an elderly golden retriever, and my follow-up, My Life as a Cat, is written from the perspective of an alien – who happens, very accidentally, to arrive on Earth in cat form. While both books are born of my imagination, I tried to approach each of them as scientifically as possible. What might a dog actually think, according to the latest research in canine behaviour and biology? How might a cat actually feel?
The non-fictional elements have always been there.
But it was my dog who convinced me to give non-fiction a real shot. The two of us were out one morning, roving the fields of our neighbourhood, and I began thinking about all the advice my dog might give me, if she could speak. As we walked, I started to consider other animals, like wolves. And otters. And penguins. What advice would a raccoon give? What wisdom could a wombat share? Roar Like a Lion bloomed from there. It’s full of true stories and facts that showcase just how wise, kind, and creative these creatures are – and how much their wisdom can improve lives.
I love writing about animals in my fiction, but writing non-fiction has opened up a whole new world of research for me. I could spend all day, every day, reading about animals. And in reality . . . that’s sort of what I do now! All the books on my nightstand are about animal behaviour and ecology, and nothing excites me more than learning something new.
In some ways, writing Roar Like a Lion was a different experience than drafting I, Cosmo and My Life as a Cat. I researched much, much more and plotted less. But in most ways, the experience was remarkably similar – because animals were still at the heart of each project. They were still teaching me. They were still reminding me of that little girl, tucked under the bedsheets, trying to morph into a wolf.
Non-fiction has the remarkable ability to expand our minds in powerful and long-lasting ways. Fiction is great (really, really, really great!), but I’m not sure where I’d be without those late-night reading sessions as a kid. I’m not sure that my curiosity about the world would’ve been satiated any other way, and I feel so honoured to have the opportunity to put a non-fiction book into the world. I’m quite positive that eight-year-old Carlie would’ve loved to read it.
Carlie Sorosiak is the bestselling author of I, Cosmo, My Life as a Cat and two novels for young adults. She teaches creative writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and their American dingo.
Roar Like a Lion by Carlie Sorosiak, illustrated by Katie Walker, published by David Fickling is available in bookshops.