Way back in the last century before I was a YA author, I was a geeky student. So geeky that I spent six years at the University of Pennsylvania researching a doctorate in American Civilization, and wrote a book about prohibition and repeal and American drinking habits. Which has nothing to do with dairy farming, football (okay, it might have something to do with football) or witch-princesses who can barely fly brooms. The reason I confess this now is that I'm in a Ken Burns documentary on prohibition entitled, cleverly, Prohibition, and it reruns often enough that I get weird looks. So I decided it was time to come out of the closet.
My YA fans may find this disconcerting, which I can understand. But imagine how the geeky college students feel when they look up the author of the book they’ve just been assigned for their Alcohol in America class (which is the kind of class you get to take in college), and all they can find is Dairy Queen. Say whaaaat?
Just to be clear, if it hadn’t been for Domesticating Drink, I would never have been brave enough to try DQ or PB or any of my other novels. In writing about an event that took place more than forty years before I was born, I learned how to research and study and organize data, and these skills are what gave me the confidence to tackle football and pilgriming and Renaissance Rome — three subjects about which I otherwise know pretty much zero.
Nothing you learn will ever be wasted. Nothing. Not even math.
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