"May you live in interesting times."
That ambiguous wish was not meant to be kind, because interesting times can be difficult. You and I certainly live in interesting times - dangerous, challenging, and fascinating.
My parents were born just before the start of the twentieth century; my youngest grandchild arrived in this century's final decade. The years in between have been the most dynamic in the history of the human race. Technical knowledge has exploded; so has the Earth's human population. We can create almost anything, yet each day we lose parts of our planet that can never be replaced.
I'm greedy: I want to write about all of it - the history, the grief, joy, and excitement of being human in times past; the cutting-edge inventions of times almost here.
When I work on a book like GOOD-BYE, BILLY RADISH, I find my way back home to the smoky, sooty, western Pennsylvania town where flames from smokestacks set fire to the night. Today the smoke is gone, and so are the steel mills, but in my own memory, and through the stories my parents told me, I can recreate that time and place. It's important that I do that, because if I don't, no one will remember the rumbles and shrieks of the mills, the smell of the smoke, the blaze of the furnaces, and the enormous power of the steel mills over the townspeople.
Novels about times past are easy to research, because we know what happened then. The future is a mystery.
We can only imagine what it will be like: virtual worlds where people can touch things that aren't real, and move around in them, and move them around to wherever they please; technical wizardry that may make life perfect, or - if we're unlucky - could create disasters worldwide; genetic engineering that might raise humans and animals and viruses into superior beings, or perhaps, flaw them tragically.
In THE VIRTUAL WAR CHRONOLOGS, I’ve tried to imagine all these possibilities. The CHRONOLOGS begin in the year 2080. I won't be around then to discover whether any of my predictions have come true, but many of my readers will live in that wonderful (we hope) and exciting time - Earth's future.
Caught up in the wonderment of the world to come, and infused with equal wonderment over the world long past, I think how lucky I am to be a writer, to be the channel through which this knowledge flows. As much as I admire the work of scientists and engineers and historians and archaeologists, I think my job is the best. I get to have it all.
I only wish I could live forever, so I could see how the future turns
Gloria Skurzynski's family has always been a source of inspiration and information for her books. Her husband is an aerospace engineer who loves computers. Two of their five daughters - Jan and Lauren - are engineers. Serena is a doctor; Joni designs fashions for Southwest boutiques, and daughter Alane Ferguson will be familiar to young readers because she followed in her mother's footsteps to become an author. Gloria and Alane are co-authoring a mystery series for National Geographic. WOLF STALKER is the first novel ever published by the National Geographic Society in its 109-year history. NIGHT OF THE BLACK BEAR, to be published in 2007, will be the thirteenth novel in the National Geographic National Parks series.
One by one, Gloria's seven grandchildren are appearing in her photo essays - WAVES: THE ELECTROMAGNETIC UNIVERSE has pictures of six of them. "They make great models," Gloria says, "because I'm always taking their pictures anyway, whether I'm working on a book or not. They're so used to it that they're completely relaxed about posing."