Did you miss part one of this article? Then go here.

Let’s fast forward a few years from that summer in 1960 when my next-door-neighbor librarian, Mrs. Crabtree bought me a stack of books that would transform me into a joyful lifelong reader. But before we teleport ourselves forward in time, let me explain what I mean by the term, joyful lifelong reader.

In this country and throughout much of the world, it’s inevitable that most people will become lifelong readers by the very nature of our educational system. That’s not to say that there aren’t still many people illiterate but that they are in the minority in developed countries. But how many of them are joyful in their reading. In other words, how many people just love to read for the pure pleasure they get from picking up a good book and sinking into their favorite chair to while away hours at a time? How many of our youths today prefer reading over watching television or movies, or playing video games?

I think you may see where I’m going with this so let’s speed ahead in time by a little less than sixty years. By this time, I’ve been a professional writer for quite a few years and have started focusing on writing science fiction and fantasy novels. Somewhere along the way, I remembered that summer of 1960 before I entered the fourth grade and that first stack of books along with the many other stacks I brought home from the library for my own reading pleasure.

Among those books I discovered was the Tom Swift, Jr. series. Much like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, this series showcased a young Tom Swift, Jr. Wikipedia describes him as “virtuous, brave, and very smart,” a perfect role model to me because he was also a scientist, or at least the son of a scientist. I loved those books like Tom Swift and his Ultrasonic Cycloplane, or his Jetmarine, or his Aquatomic Tracker.

There was just one thing missing from those books. Biology. You see, I’m a student of the biological sciences more than the physical sciences, so I decided almost six decades after devouring the Tom Swift Jr. Series to write my own series with a lover of animals and magic as the protagonist, and Zak Bates was born.

Like many authors, I now write the books I would want to read as a young boy growing up on his way to becoming a small animal veterinarian, or research biologist, or zoologist. And I write the Zak Bates Eco-adventure series to inspire other young people to become joyful lifelong readers and learners. It’s my way of paying back Mrs. Crabtree and all those many other authors who wrote all those books I loved that kept me mostly out of trouble.

Since the Covid pandemic hit, I’ve also started to reach out to young people and their parents through a monthly series of Zak Bates Eco-adventure series Readups conducted via Zoom with my audiobook narrator, Ben Fife. The link to the series is below in the comments (0r here).