M.H. Herlong is a teacher, writer, former lawyer, parent of four sons, and the author of The Great Wide Sea, a YALSA 2010 Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. The author has lived for twenty-seven years in New Orleans, Louisiana, where levee breaks in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina caused massive flooding and destroyed much of the city.
If you are interested in hosting an appearance by M.H. Herlong at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information
Author Appearance Q&A with M.H. Herlong:
What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?
Is it fair to say that I hope they can expect a really great day? Perhaps more to the point, they can expect energetic presentations to large groups and lively converse with smaller groups.
What makes your author appearances unique?
Umm. Me. I am the only one of me. And every student I meet is the only one of them. I like to make sure they know that—or that they know that I know that. My goal at a school is not about educating the head so much as about inspiring the heart. Opening doors.
Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
Adults are great. They are just bigger students. Come to think of it, we are all students. When I present to adults, I usually begin by asking what they want me to talk about. Then I develop a presentation with that as a guide though not as a limitation.
What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?
Ideally, students have read one of my books and I know which one and can focus my presentation around that. That is not necessary, however. Organization is very important but even more important is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm rules.
Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?
Actually this is my favorite way to do it. The absolute best traveling arrangement is for three different schools to get together so that I can visit them on three consecutive days. I get to see lots and lots students and schools get to share expenses.
What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?
Inspiration. To dream, to try, to hope.
What has been one of your most memorable appearance experiences?
The Great Wide Sea has a Hebrew and a Korean edition. I don't read either language so I had no idea what these titles actually said until a friend of one of my sons translated the Hebrew title for me. I believe she said it read, "In the Heart of the Sea." At a small middle school on the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast, I showed pictures of the covers as part of my presentation and bemoaned the fact that no one had ever translated the Korean for me. Afterward, students crowded to the stage with just-one-more-question-please-please. Finally, only a single student was waiting. "I read Korean," he said quietly. "You do!" He nodded. "But the picture changed so quickly, all I could catch was one character." "What did it say," I asked. "Family," he answered. The bell rang. He was gone. I haven't had the rest of the title translated. I think that one word may well be enough.
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