Withers, Pam 1956-
Withers, Pam 1956-
Born July 31, 1956, in Milwaukee, WI; daughter of Richard S. (an Episcopal minister) and Anita E. (a nurse) Miller; married Stephen G. Withers (a professor of chemistry), June, 1985; children: Jeremy. Education: Beloit College, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Sports.
Home—Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Agent—Leona Trainer, Transatlantic Literary Agency, 72 Glengowan Rd., Toronto, Ontario M4N 1G4, Canada.
Runners World Magazine Co., Mountain View, CA, associate editor, 1978-79; Adventure Travel, New York, NY, associate editor, 1980-82; reporter and copy editor for newspapers in Seattle, WA, 1982-84; freelance writer.
Canadian Writers and Illustrators (president, 2005—), Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Writers Union, Toastmasters of Today (president, 2003).
Public speaking awards, Toastmasters of Today.
Raging River, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2003.
Peak Survival, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2004.
Adrenaline Ride, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2004.
Skater Stuntboys, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2005.
Camp Wild, Orca Books (Custer, WA), 2005.
Breathless, Orca Books (Custer, WA), 2005.
Surf Zone, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2005.
Vertical Limits, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2006.
Daredevil Club, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2006.
Wake's Edge, Whitecap Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2007.
(With John B. Izzo) Values Shift: The New Work Ethic and What It Means for Business, Prentice-Hall Canada (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Pam Withers told SATA: "My father and grandmother both encouraged me to write, and a high school journalism teacher was key in pushing me in that direction. But basically, I wanted to be an author from the age of eight. I used to write stories in a little notebook and read them to my younger sisters, who seemed to like them!
"A British author by the name of Willard Price wrote a series of adventure books for boys. I used to read them to my son when he was ten, and they ended up being the largest influence on my desire to write a series of adventure books involving extreme sports. I'm also a fan of Farley Mowat, Will Hobbs and Gary Paulsen. Also, my misspent youth as a whitewater kayaker made it a given I'd write about sports, I think!
"I start a project by immersing myself in the sport I'm going to write about, either taking it up personally, or hooking up with people in the sport. I read magazines, Web sites and books devoted to the sport, watch tons of videos, and attend events. All these give me a sense of the action and jargon, and of the personalities drawn to the sport. They also give me ideas for plot twists. Then I select an athlete I want as my primary consultant.
"Next, I research the location I've chosen as the setting for my book, and research all aspects of my chosen subplot, and begin plotting in my head (playing it like a movie). When I have an outline started (or, more rarely, finished!), I begin writing. My athlete/consultant reads several chapters at a time, as I finish them, offering feedback and corrections and sometimes filling in blanks. Once I've done the research and interviews I need, it generally takes less than two months to write the book itself. I write about six hours a day, while my son is at school, taking lots of breaks for exercise. I am a very disciplined writer, and as a former journalist, am comfortable with deadlines.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that I love the public-speaking circuit that goes with being an author. I speak to thousands of school children and aspiring adult writers per year, traveling extensively to do so. I never get tired of it! It energizes me.
"Of my books, Skater Stuntboys has always been my favorite, perhaps because it has the most complex plot (and because of Jake's surprise at the end), and also because it just came together the fastest and easiest of all of them. But now it's tied with Vertical Limits."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Kliatt, May, 2004, Barbara McKee, review of Raging River, p. 24; July, 2005, Heidi Hauser Green, review of Camp Wild, p. 27.
Resource Links, February, 2004, review of Raging River, p. 41; April, 2004, Brenda Dillon, review of Peak Survival, p. 42; February, 2005, Heather Empey, review of Adrenaline Ride, p. 43.
School Library Journal, November, 2004, Betsy Fraser, review of Peak Survival, p. 156.
Canadian Review of Materials Online,http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/ (December 13, 2005), Dave Jenkinson, profile of Withers.
Take It to the Extreme Web site,http://www.takeittotheextreme.com/ (December 13, 2005).