This week’s blog is by Poisoned Pencil author Kate Jamait, who has announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund a most unusual promotional plan. Kate’s book, Endangered, will be out the first week of August.

When Poisoned Pencil press accepted the manuscript of my YA mystery novel, Endangered, I started looking forward to the day that I’d be invited on school visits to talk about my novel.

Meeting teenage readers can be exhilarating, or it can be  excruciating. I remember vividly one day when I was invited to give a presentation about my teen sports novels to a high school in rural northern Ontario. I had a great sports trivia game all prepared, hoping to interest the students in a fun and interactive activity. But when I arrived, I discovered that on that very day, the school hockey team was playing a grudge match against their arch-rivals in the next town, and any student who was even vaguely interested in hockey had gotten the day off to attend the game. The period that I spent capering around in front of a half-empty classroom, trying to drum up enthusiasm for sports trivia among a group of self-selected non-jocks, ranks among the most awkward and, frankly, unsuccessful 60 minutes of my life.

Not wanting to fall flat on my face again, I wracked my brains to come up with some kind of engaging material to accompany my new novel. Since the main character in Endangered is a teen news reporter, I wanted to do something that used my own journalistic background. And since the novel’s subplot revolves around a black-market turtle smuggling scheme, I came up with the idea of producing a short documentary movie, à la National Geographic, about endangered sea turtles.

With the expert assistance of professional filmmaker Melanie Willis, I started conducting interviews and putting a plan together. We were lucky enough to receive an invitation from University of the West Indies Professor Julia Horrocks, Director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, to travel to Barbados and film her turtle rescue crews in action.

Melanie and I are now making plans to travel to Barbados at the end of August, when the Hawksbill sea turtles hatch. Disoriented by the lights of towns, resorts and highways, many of the hatchlings become confused and fail to make their way toward the ocean where they belong. That’s where the volunteers come in, responding to calls from all over the island and safely guiding the hatchlings on their way.Endangered cover

Filming this event and the volunteers who help the turtles will make our movie a great educational tool for use in classrooms (not to mention saving me from the embarrassment of another disastrous sports-trivia presentation).  As a way of fundraising for the production of our film, Melanie and I are offering a chance to pre-purchase classroom visits — by Skype and in person — as well a movie downloads and autographed copies of the book.

If you’d like to support us, please visit our crowdfunding campaign page. And please share the news with others who might be interested in the novel or the film.

I appreciate everyone’s support as I look forward to the launch of the book and film this fall.