By Suzanne Schmidt
Students at Sunlake High School were able to speak with author Patrick Carman last week without him leaving his office in Washington.
Students who read his book, “Skeleton Creek,” had the chance to ask what inspires him, why he wrote the book and what his favorite colors are. They used Skype, a program that allows people to communicate through the computer using video and audio. Students could see the author in his office and he was able to look at them in the classroom.
Carman’s books “Skeleton Creek” and “Ghost in the Machine” are different than the usual because of his use of technology.
Melodie Oleson, media specialist at the school, said she likes how the author combines reading with technology in his story line.
“The author taps into today’s reader,” Oleson said. “He has books that are not simply plain text. As you read the text, you have to go to his Web site. One of the main characters is a videographer who keeps a video journal. So when it gets to that point in the book, the kids can go to the Web site and see the video and it carries the story forward.”
Jackie Johnson, reading teacher at the high school, said she set up the Skype interview because she wanted the students to meet an author.
“I wanted them to get to see inside his head and see how he thinks,” Johnson said. “They also wanted to know more personal things about him. They wanted to make a connection with a real live author.”
The class recently finished “Skeleton Creek” and will soon be reading its sequel “Ghost in the Machine.”
“His approach to writing is innovative,” Johnson said. “I have reluctant readers and they just can’t get enough of his book. They want to keep reading to get to the next video message.”
Students learned why Carman writes books in the first place.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t like to read,” Carman said. “I loved comic books, movies and TV. I was a pretty distracted kid and I didn’t even have all the stuff kids have now.”
Carman decided to use technology throughout his books and cliffhangers at the end to keep kids interested.
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