One of the questions I’m most often asked is: Where do my ideas for Magic Tree House books come from? When I first started writing the series, I talked to countless kids and teachers about where they’d most like Jack and Annie to go. For years as I toured schools and asked questions, I was amazed at how similar all the suggestions were. No matter where I was, or what sort of group I was talking to, the same ideas would keep cropping up – such as mummies, pirates, the rainforest, ninjas, the moon, under the sea, the Titanic, Hawaii, and Antarctica. I would get my audience to vote on different ideas that I was thinking about, as well. I’d even get them to vote on cover ideas and titles for my books.
Now, as I’m starting to plan book #51, I still count on readers to share their thoughts with me. Not long ago, I asked a crowd to choose among four possibilities: ancient Mayan times, a World Cup soccer game, a trip down the Nile River, and the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The trip down the Nile seemed to catch the crowd’s attention, so I began doing my research. To my joy, I discovered that a very interesting person spent a winter on the Nile in the mid-1800’s. Her name was Florence Nightingale. Her journey was life-changing, and put her on the path to becoming the astonishing human being that she became as a nurse in the Crimea.
So, yes, Jack, Annie and Florence Nightingale are now encountering one another on the River Nile. Do I know yet what will happen to them? No. But I might be getting my next audience to vote on several ideas. So, thanks to everyone big and small who’s given me good advice over the years. I’m very grateful.