Alane was born in Cumberland, Maryland. She studied journalism at the University of Utah and Westminister College. She turned to writing, she says, to follow the example of her mother, successful author Gloria Skurzynski. Alane and her mother co-authored a series for National Geographic. Their novel, Wolf Stalker, was the first work of fiction that National Geographic ever published. Wolf Stalker was nominated for the 1998 Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award. Alane won the Children’s Crown Classic Award for Cricket and the Crackerbox Kid, the American Bookseller’s Association’s “Pick of the List” for her picture book entitled That New Pet, and has been on numerous ALA Recommended Books for Reluctant Young Readers and Young Adult’s Choice list.
Alane’s newest quartet of mysteries for Penguin’s Sleuth began with The Christopher Killer, nominated for the 2007 Mystery Writers of America’s prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award as well as a YALSA top ten book list. These no-language/no-sex YA novels allow her to cross over to older students. The second book in the “Sleuth” series, The Angel of Death, was launched in 2006, followed by The Circle of Blood in Autumn 2007. She is currently working on book number four, The Dying Breath and has just released another middle-grade book, Night of the Black Bear.
As the author of more than 30 books for children, Alane feels that it is her mission as a visiting author to ignite the writing spark in every child!
Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson
Traveling to Glacier National Park, Olivia Landon, a wildlife veterinarian, hopes to discover why grizzly bear cubs have been disappearing. Accompanying Olivia are her husband, twelve-year-old son Jack, and Ashley, the younger daughter. It seems that Ashley has read a forbidden book about actual grizzly bear attacks and is terrified about the trip. Her behavior becomes stranger and stranger and she actually ventures off alone when she knows that in bear territory one must travel with a partner. Her secret turns out to be Miguel, a young illegal Mexican boy who is desperate to get to Seattle. Miguel is escaping a life of poverty and is being hunted by immigration officials. The children are obsessed with helping him and are caught in a dangerous situation where they become the hunted. Vivid description of the park, information about bears and steps being taken to protect them, along with an exciting plot make the book an enjoyable read. As the fifth novel in the “National Park Mystery” series, Jack and Ashley continue their sleuthing relating to various wildlife mishaps in parks throughout the United States. 2000, National Geographic Society, $15.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Laura Hummel (Children’s Literature).
The Christopher Killer: A Forensic Mystery
Cameryn Mahoney lives with her father and grandmother in a quiet Colorado town. She hangs with her best friend and studies hard so she can become a forensic pathologist. Her father just happens to be the town coroner and he finally agrees to take Cameryn on as his assistant. She nearly loses it when she sees her first dead body, but Cammy is determined to do this work, so she goes back for more. The second body proves to be more of a challenge because it is one of her friends who has been murdered. The suspects include a Goth-like school friend and a nationally known psychic who has predicted the murder and discovery of the body. Cameryn is thrown off the scent at first, but eventually figures out the tricks used by the murderer and ends up almost becoming the next victim. Characters are very likable and the author does an excellent job of developing a sub story involving Cammy’s mother and the reason for her absence from their lives. Relationships between adults and teens as well as between the teens themselves are believable. More “Cameryn Mahoney” mysteries are promised, and readers will be waiting for them. 2006, Sleuth/Viking, $15.99. Ages 16 to 18. Reviewer: Wendy M. Smith-D’Arezzo (Children’s Literature).
The Angel of Death: A Forensic Mystery
In the small town of Silverton, Colorado, the strange murder of the popular high school English teacher, Brad Oakes, sends shock waves through the community in this sequel to The Christopher Killer. Seventeen-year-old, Cameryn Mahoney, a high school student, is the coroner’s assistant. The coroner, Patrick Mahoney, happens to be her father who respects and nurtures Cameryn’s gift for forensic science, despite the questioning challenges from the sheriff and medical examiner. Entangled in this fast-paced mystery story is Cameryn’s growing romance with Kyle, who happened to discover the teacher’s body. Oakes, who was also a Boy Scout leader, did not show up for the hike, which resulted in sending Kyle over to Oakes’ home to look for him. Besides the murder mystery, Cameryn’s life is complicated with the communication from her mother Hannah, who disappeared a number of years ago. Hannah’s pending visit is a secret that troubles Cameryn and her relationship with her family and friends. The story leaves some unanswered questions that suggest future sequels. 2006, Penguin Group, $15.99. Ages 14 to 18. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children’s Literature).
It is Alane’s heartfelt belief that every child, young or old, can become a better writer! Although she finds it a joy to receive emails from children who were engrossed by the twists and turns of her new young adult forensic mystery series or were moved by the beauty of the parks featured in the National Geographic’s middle-grade mystery series, she is most excited when she sees a light go on in children’s eyes as they realize how easy it is to make their own writing even better!
Her presentations are designed to excite an audience so that they see themselves as “creators.” Her general presentation begins with her own childhood stories (write on what you know!) and includes writing tips (journaling!), editing tips (we all have to rewrite!), and pictures of her on location doing research (homework is for life!). Her general presentation is followed by classroom workshops, which feature “hand on” teaching and editing. This is where the students’ own ideas really come to life!
Fees are negotiable. Travel and lodging to be covered by sponsoring organization.
To learn more about Alane and her publications please visit www.alaneferguson.com.