Press - Media Kit

 

Countdown to the release of The Pluto Diaries:confessions of a former ninth planet

 

The Pluto Diaries, a novel in cartoons, will be published as an illustrated ebook on Amazon.com sometime in May 2017.

Table of Contents

 

1. Bios (short and long)

2. Photos

3. Reviews

4. Fun facts

5. Relevancy

6. Fan resources

7. Press contact details

8. Sample interview questions (answered)

9. Social media and videos

10. Press release

11. Downloadable version


 

Short Bio

 

Kathleen Skidmore Field is a San Francisco-based writer who enjoys blending education and entertainment in her writing. Kathleen thinks all of the planets in the Planet Club are pretty fantastic and it's hard to choose a favorite. She grew more fond of each of them the more she learned and the more she wrote. A linguist at heart, who once planned to become a researcher,  Kathleen dares suggest that "language" might be as cool and study-worthy as Pluto itself, and that's saying something.

 

Her novel "The Pluto Diaries: Confessions of a Former Ninth Planet" can be purchased here: For more information, go to www.theplutodiaries.com.

 

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Long Bio 

Kathleen Skidmore Field is a San Francisco-based writer who enjoys blending education and entertainment in her writing.

 

Kathleen was drawn to the story of Pluto's demotion for its human parallels and for the humor she found built in to the real-life drama. She is not afraid to find humor in science and history, or to poke gentle fun at the follies of human nature. She believes we are healthiest when we recognize both the possibilities and the shortcomings of Science, which is, after all, the product of a talented, but flawed, human race.

 

A linguist at heart, who once planned to become a language researcher, Kathleen believes the debate over Pluto's planethood is primarily a linguistic one. The way words affect us, in the Pluto-Planet controversy and elsewhere in life, is a testament to the power of language to make us think and feel.  

 

Kathleen thinks all of the planets in the Planet Club are pretty cool and it's hard to choose a favorite. She grew more fond of each of them the more she learned and the more she wrote. She dares suggest that "language" might be as cool and study-worthy as Pluto itself, and that's saying something. 

 

As for Pluto being reinstated into the Planet Club, she definitely wouldn't mind, but she also knows she has absolutely no say in the matter and is content to leave that decision to those who have a much deeper knowledge on the topic. Still, she can't help but root for "The Planet with a Heart."

Her novel "The Pluto Diaries: Confessions of a Former Ninth Planet" can be purchased here: For more information, go to theplutodiaries.com.

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Photos

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Relevancy

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has consistently ranked high on the "most popular planet list." There has always been something about the small, odd planet that intrigued people. Whatever Pluto's appeal,  the planet's downgrading to dwarf planet in 2006 did nothing to reduce its popularity; if anything, the demotion only increased it, as people rushed to defend the oddball planet as if it were their picked-on younger sibling.  Then, in 2015,  the New Horizons probe did the unimaginable: it reached the cold, distant world and gave us our first real glimpse at the remarkable and complex beauty that is Pluto. Today, in 2016, a full decade after the infamous IAU vote that brought Pluto down, there are no signs that the Pluto-planet controversy has come to a halt. Ask a group of adults or children (age doesn't matter) what they think about Pluto's demotion, and you'll get an immediate chorus of replies ranging from scientific explanations to bursts of righteous indignation. People still remember, and they still care. 

There hasn't been a book on Pluto's demotion out in a number of years, and there's never been one quite like this one. The Pluto Diaries is "Science Fiction and Historical Fiction Meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid."  The Pluto Diaries is the only first-person narrative that gives Pluto the Planet a voice.   Written to educate and entertain middle school-age children, but equally enjoyable to adults who appreciate a light-hearted approach to astronomy, the story envisions Pluto as a "planet being" with thoughts and feelings and a life not too far different from our own.  Using a conversational style and cartoons that make the scientific and historical concepts come alive, The Pluto Diaries tells the true story of Pluto's demotion with both humor and heart. 

Fun Facts

It's hard to write a book on planets when astronomers keep learning new stuff about them! Some of the details in the story had to be re-written when new scientific knowledge came to light. For example, Pluto originally said that Makemake was made fun of for being a large, bright KBO who happened to be "moonless." This had to be changed when it came out in early 2016 that a moon for Makemake had been discovered. Makemake's moon was written into the story and a cartoon was created in response to the new information.

Science is complicated! It was sometimes hard to get the facts straight. Different sources would give conflicting information about the planets. Sometimes information was outdated or incorrect; other times, it was accurate but oversimplified, making it difficult to draw deeper conclusions. A lot of research was necessary to try to make sense of it all and develop a story around the most up-to-date scientific information.

It took about 8 months of writing nearly every day to complete the first draft of "The Pluto Diaries" including a several months of straight research and much more research along the way. It took more time to make revisions and direct the art for the story.

 

The planet characters' personalities were developed based on the real planets' physical attributes and other known properties. For example, Pluto is a nice guy because he is the planet with a distinct heart shape on his surface.  (The planet "with a heart.") The Neptune character hoards diamonds and catapults other characters into outer space because the planet Neptune produces diamond and has a strong gravitational force. Other characters were developed based on the real-life storyline of Pluto's demotion. For example, the character Eris became a troublemaker because of the role the dwarf planet played in getting Pluto demoted.

 

Eris was originally envisioned as a male character because I had temporarily forgotten that Eris was a Greek "goddess." When I did remember that Eris' namesake was female, I decided I didn't want to make the Eris character a female for a variety of reasons. His female name worked out well in the end, though; it became just another one of those things in the story that the astronomers "got wrong" because they did not intimately understand the planets they studied and were intent on naming space objects as they saw fit.

Part of my research was learning a  lot about what non-scientists thought about Pluto.  I trolled message boards and comment sections in scientific articles to determine how "regular"people felt and understand the arguments they gave. I decided everybody's point of view mattered.

Dysnomia is Eris' moon, but it is also a medical condition that causes some people to forget names. This is the reason that Eris' moon forgets his name in one of the cartoons.

Interview questions (answered)

Q: What made you write "The Pluto Diaries"?

A: It struck me as a really interesting and inherently funny story. When you read about what happened you almost can't help but assign Pluto human traits and view him as a "wronged" being.  I thought the fervor of the the scientific community in ousting Pluto would make for some pretty amusing comments from a fictional Pluto, and I had to chuckle at the strength of the indignation many people feel about Pluto's demotion. On both sides, the reaction was sometimes extreme and I thought it was amazing that a distant space object on the edge of the solar system could inspire such strong emotion.

Q: What were your goals for the story?

A: I wanted to tell a funny story about a real historical event that would entertain people.  I also wanted the scientific information in my writing to be as accurate as I possibly could make it, so I challenged myself to do a lot of research. I  hoped kids and adults who knew something about the solar system would gain more knowledge on the topic and have a good laugh in the process.  My secret goal was to make even a seasoned astronomer chuckle just a little bit.

Q: Why do you think Pluto is such a popular planet?

A: I think Pluto was always the "cute" one.  It was small and special like a puppy or kitten, and that appealed to people.  It was also farther away than the others, so it had a mysterious allure.

Q: What is your story about?

A: Well, it's about astronomy, for sure. It's about a real historical event: Pluto's demotion, and the events leading up to it.  It's about the New Horizons visit and what we learned about Pluto. But it's about more than that, and I think that's why the story especially appealed to me.  It's about how important a little word like "planet" became to a whole bunch of people. It's about the complexity of language and the effects language has on us. It's about how we use language in our everyday lives and how it contributes to our emotions and outlook. Ultimately, it's about the "glory" of words.

In The Pluto Diaries I've tried to show how the precision and nuance of words plays out, not just in the Pluto-planet controversy, but in the non-scientific community too. For example, there's a cartoon where Pluto excitedly uses ice hockey jargon to talk about the sport with Mercury and Venus, who have no clue what he's saying. He uses all kinds of sport-specific jargon that those two can't even begin to understand. Then there's the Kuiper Belt Politeness Training Seminar attended by Eris, who must learn that it's ok to say that his friend Sedna is "eccentric" but not "cracked" or "crazy." Language is an emotional thing and it is very important for constructing meaning in our Universe. And that is why it matters so much to both astronomers and lay people what Pluto is called.

 

I'd also say that the story is about the role of science in our lives. Science gives us great knowledge and contributes to progress in every area of life. It's mind-boggling to think about all the amazing things we've learned over a relatively short period of time about our solar system and beyond. But the story of Pluto's demotion reminds me of our tendency to deny the human component in science. To deny that science is often a mix of facts, emotions, and opinions, and not the cold hard, data driven process we've been taught to believe it is. Pluto reminds us that we are human, and so is science, to an extent, because it is conducted by humans. 

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