Sabrina Weiss is a freelance journalist and author, specialising in deeply-reported features and multimedia storytelling. Before going freelance in 2021, Weiss worked for Wired magazine in London and the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Her articles have also appeared in the New Statesman and Republik, among other magazines. She has also recorded podcasts and authored three non-fiction children’s books.
From islands that have been taken over by animals to disappearing islands, islands made of shells, artificial islands and even islands that were once prison colonies, Amazing Islands takes you on an exciting tour of some of the smallest land masses in the world.
Ocean: Secrets of the Deep is jam-packed with hundreds of stylish illustrations, infographics and surprising facts about the world’s marine life. First, readers are taken on a journey from the water’s surface to the deepest, darkest depths of the oceans. Then, information-packed pages about marine life follow, before a final section about how to protect our ocean.
Amazing Animals is out now in hardback, you can purchase a copy here.
1. How did you get into writing children’s books?
I met Giulia de Amicis, an incredibly talented information designer and illustrator from Italy, while we were both volunteering for a marine research nonprofit in Mozambique. We worked on reports, posters and infographics about manta rays, whale sharks and their habitats, and discussed the idea of making a children’s book together. That was the beginning of Ocean: Secrets of the Deep. Back in London, I met with my brilliant publisher What on Earth Books. I then worked with two of their illustrators on Amazing Islands and Amazing Animals, which are both part of a book series about our planet.
2. What do you enjoy about being freelance?
I love the freedom to travel for my research and journalism. The Amazing Islands book was inspired by my personal travels and I wrote parts of Amazing Animals while I was in Madagascar. Of course, Madagascar’s endemic animals have also found a place in the book.
3. How do you adapt your writing style for children’s books?
Science writing is about breaking down complex and sometimes abstract concepts so that people who may not know much about science or technology can understand them. This is also evident when I write books for children that are based on scientific knowledge. The point is not to simplify facts and figures too much, but to make them accessible to the reader. It’s also about telling good stories that thrive on interesting and surprising detail, colourful language or relatable anecdotes. Because we all know that good storytelling can transport readers to another place and time, it can convey factual information in a way that makes it easier for readers to remember.
4. What was the most interesting fact you learnt whilst researching your new book Amazing Animals?
I learned so many new facts! But what really struck me was when I read and wrote about Turritopsis dohrnii, a species of jellyfish that doesn’t grow bigger than a pinky nail. When the animal is under stress or gets injured, it can revert back to its premature state. In theory, the jellyfish could do this repeatedly and never age so long it can avoid predators. That’s why it is also called the ‘immortal jellyfish’.
5. Are you currently working on anything that you wish to share with your readers?
I am currently delving into the communication and culture of animals, but also the human brain and mind. It is too early to say where and how I will write about these fascinating topics. But, of course, I am always open to writing a new children’s book.
Find Amazing Islands and Ocean: Secrets of the Deep inside the What on Earth Books digital book collection, you can purchase a subscription here.
Take a look inside Amazing Islands: exacteditions.com/isbn/9781912920150
Take a look inside Ocean: Secrets of the Deep: exacteditions.com/isbn/9781999968052
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