Gregory Kemp Interview
First-time YA author Gregory Kemp tells Kidzworld how his adventurous, heartwarming novel, The Legends of Vinny Whiskers, came to be.
Bookmonster: Your book is based around a bunch of different animal species, specifically black-tailed prairie dogs and rats. What inspired you to write about these characters?
Gregory Kemp: I guess it started at the zoo. I’ve always found the prairie dogs to be one of the most entertaining zoo animals. They are active. They are social. Also, I felt the prairie dog deserved some attention. The prairie dog has been an unrealized hero in animal stories.
So why rats? I wanted an enemy that people would be quick to despise. Rats fit the bill. It seems cliché to make the rats the bad guys, because there is such a negative stereotype about rats. My goal is to challenge the stereotype. Is the villain the rat, or people’s disdain for rats? Is it possible to change our opinions about things we hate?
Bookmonster: How do you know so much about these wild creatures? Did you ever work at a zoo?
Gregory Kemp: I never worked at a zoo, nor do I have a degree in wildlife management, veterinary science, or zoology. I do have a PhD in BSology, which is far more important when writing fantasy. That’s the truth of it. I didn’t do much research. I read a few animal books and I visited the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Then I started to write. I’m probably in dangerous territory because while most of the information about the various animals is factual, I made up a lot of stuff also.
Bookmonster: Do you have a favorite children’s/young adult author? If so, how have they inspired you in your writing?
Gregory Kemp: Piers Anthony. His writing is crisp, funny, and imaginative. That’s what I’m trying to do.