Mystery of the Missing Fox, the third book in Tamra Wight's Cooper & Packrat eco-adventure series, launches this month. We sat down with the writer, photographer, educator and campground owner to discuss her busy life and the inspiration behind her award-winning series.
IP: You run the Poland Spring Campground May through October and you're also an Ed Tech during the school year. When do you find time to write?
TW: A regular writing routine isn't always easy. I have to keep to a schedule. Typically, after supper, from 7:30-11 p.m., you'll find me writing or doing marketing work at my little desk. I surround myself with my wildlife photos, notebooks and research.
On the weekends, I try to set aside one day to write. I can make a lot of headway if I don't get distracted by a beautiful day or the possibility of finding eagles or nesting loons.
IP: Where did you get the inspiration for the Cooper and Packrat series?
TW: I find most of my inspiration outside my own front door. I seek out nature in action on the campground trails or in my kayak. With my extra long camera lens, I can watch wildlife at a safe distance.
I take lots and lots of pictures of things that interest me, so I can refer back to them for details when I write in the winter. Some authors use a notebook and pencil when they take notes, I use my camera.
Of course, running a campground for twenty-two years gives me all the details I need to write about Cooper and Packrat's chores. I've emptied campground trash cans, where the black beady eyes of stinky cooked lobsters looked up at me as I tied the bags shut. I've cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed the pool, organized recreation activities, stacked wood, raked campsites . . . the list goes on and on. That being said, the chores are really fun to write about!
IP: Can you tell us more about your wildlife photography?
TW: I have a 500mm lens on my camera that allows me to see wildlife up close, without scaring the animals away. I take my camera everywhere — I even use it when I'm hiding in the bushes watching fox kits.
IP: What is your coolest nature-watching moment?
TW: I'd originally planned for my third Cooper & Packrat adventure to be about bears and trash dumping. Then one day, I told my husband I was going for a quick walk to grab the memory card from my trail camera. There was this hole in a hill with a newly made dirt shelf that I'd been watching. I was curious to see what lived inside. So I attached the trail camera to a tree and pointed it towards that hole. Up until that day, the camera had only picked up photos of a skunk, fisher, fox and coyote walking by the hole, but not going in it. As I opened the camera to check the memory card, I heard a sound behind me. I froze. Of course, my mind went right to the fisher. Or the skunk. Instead, what I found was a group of curious fox kits peering out at me. I knew then that they had to be a part of the third Cooper & Packrat story!
IP: What do you do for fun?
TW: I love to snowshoe, hike, geo-cache, power walk and kayak. I love nature and being outdoors in all types of weather. If I haven't been outdoors in awhile because of work or writing, I get a little grumpy around the edges and my family tells me to "take a hike”!
Thanks so much for your time, Tami!
Cooper & Packrat fans can join Tamra Wight and illustrator Carl DiRocco at the Mystery of the Missing Fox book launch at the Poland Town Hall on Tuesday, April 26 from 6-8 p.m. FMI about this fun, family-friendly event, visit our events calendar.
To order your copy of Mystery of the Missing Fox, shop our online bookshop.