Ask K.A. Applegate Q&A

Before the Official Website held it's "According to K.A" monthly Q&A sessions with the fans, Jeff Sampson from the Animorphs fan site had kept in personal touch with K.A herself by showing off his fan website to her. K.A agreed to his request of answering questions from the fans on his website. Unfortunetly, due to legal reasons, K.A soon had to stop doing this on a fan website, and it was from there that the Scholastic began holding "According to K.A" Q&A sessions once every month on the official site instead. These are the columns of questions that K.A answered to before moving to the Official Website.

Column #9

Hello again KA,

This is my third letter to you and I would like to start off saying thank you for replying to all my previous ones so thouroughly. It is very much apreciated. Anyway this time I'd like to talk to you about the yeerks. I have been writing stories having to do with animorphs on my page. All from Tobias's point of view. Well I was including some dialogue from your first animorphs book , The Invasion, and I noticed a couple things-

1: you had once replied to someone about how Jake talking to Tobias in thought speak in the first book was a mere accident. After looking at it closely it seemed as though that was you idea all along. You never actualy typed it but reading the whole construction site scene ( the part I used the dialogue of ) it seemed like you planned to make it that way. I supose you changed you mind half way through and didnt realize it was still like that ealier in the book. Just an observation. Iv done the same myself. but then another thing that was noticable and does interfere with later books

2: The yeerks. You made them out to be total demons. Totaly evil. Not a sign of humanity in them. Totaly logical though. I always got the impression that they have no real mind they just absorb the minds of their hosts. So maybe Hok-Bajir yeerks are dumber than human yeerks? well It's going to be that way in my book... anyway in more recent books you have Cassie feeling sorrow for killing the yeerks. Many readers can't quite identify with that. I have to admit it made me feel kinda bad when I read 16 and the part where Jake is going to let Bill Gates live because he's just going to kill more yeerks. But you havent showed any real good sides of the yeerks. Not that you should. I dont think the path of making the yeerks out to be full feeling insightful thingking beings would fit all to well with slugs making slaves of any sentiant creature. I notcied a few times you tried to show the yeerks as more of a humane creature. Such as in book 8 when the controller at the observatory tells Ax where Visser3 feeds because he killed his fiance' . But it still didn't exactly make the yeerks a species worthy of feeling sorry for. I mean on side you have everyone acting as though the yeerks are equals such as andalite chronicles when Elfangor refuses to kill the thousands of yeerks in the containers. Or also what Iv seen from ads of 17 somthing about the animorphs finding a drug or somthing the yeerks depend on. On whether or not they should use it. (hmmm Im staring to sound like one of those Treky fans that go to the movies in full costume arent I?)

Basically one simplified question. What are you going to make the yeerks be? Total unthinking monster that want to take over the universe. Or freethinking creatures that are caught in the same war as the animorphs - the war fighting to survive?
Your friend,
- Hawk


Funny you should ask because this is the very subject of the likely-to-be controversial ANIMORPHS #19.

In the beginning the Andalites were portrayed as pure good and the Yeerks as pure evil. Over time we've learned that the Andalites have a bit of an arrogance problem, and that Alloran committed a war crime on the Hork-Bajir home world by unleashing a quantum virus. So we've seen the Andalite's image tarnished just a bit. We've even seen our heroes, the Animorphs, pushed to the edge. But to date we haven't softened the image of the Yeerks at all. Why?

Well, first of all because we are seeing the Yeerks through the eyes of their opponents. What we know of the Yeerks comes mostly from the Andalites. No big surprise that they have nothing good to say about the slugs. The rest of what we know of the Yeerks comes from our interaction with Visser Three, a member of the Yeerk leadership. What about your average, small-time Yeerk? Well, we'll hear from someone like that in book #19. We will examine in detail the question of whether it is necessarily evil for a parasite to act like a parasite.

I do believe in good and evil. To me evil is any conscious action that attacks or destroys human liberty. So I'm never going to take a soft line on the Yeerks. Anyone that robs a human being of liberty (except in self-defense) is evil. Violent criminals, political despots, racists, bigots, fanatics or brain-stealing aliens, it doesn't matter. If you carry out actions designed to rob another human being of freedom, you're doing something wrong. At least that's my opinion.

That having been said, is it true that within even the most evil forces there are decent men and women just caught up against their will? Good question. I am sure there were brave, otherwise decent men fighting for the Germans in the Second World War. And yet, whether they chose to or not, they were doing something evil. Does that make them individually evil? Again, good question. I don't know the answer to that.

When I deal with philosophical questions in Animorphs it's never with the goal of giving you some pat answer. I'm no philosophical genius. I just want you to think about it, same as I have to think about it, same as Jake, Cassie et al have to think about it.


Dear K.A,

Is the Otherworld series going to be based on the animorphs or a totaly new one?Also when is the new animorph character going to be introduced? I can't wait for otherworld to come out.

OTHERWORLD is definitely NOT an Animorphs spin-off. Whole different characters, whole different situation. The "new " Animorph character will appear in book #20.

Dear Mrs. Applegate,

Hi! My name is Kitty G., and I adore your books. My two friends, IPA(Innocently Perfect Angel) and Princess One fight over the books when I buy them first. They both want to borrow them!

Anyway, time to get to the questions. I heard about Animorphs through a friend, and being an avid sci-fi/fantasy reader, I decided to check them out. Book #2 was out then, and so I wasn't really paying attention when #! came out.

Did Animorphs soar from the very beginning? Did you sell your books to any other companies before Scholastic? (I want to be a sci-fi/fantasy writer someday.) Do you know who the "eye on a high throne" was in Book #6? You know, when the Yeerk was dying in Jake's head? Oh, and about how long does it take you to write books? I wrote a fantasy story called "Kalthrow" and it took me six months to write! And it was only 20 computer pages long.
Wow, this question is way too long. I better go.
Brittany a.k.a. Kitty G

I was stunned actually that Animorphs did do very well right from the beginning. I kept telling my editors at Scholastic, "Hey, don't expect this thing to be some big hit, it'll start off slow." Well, guess again, Katherine.

Scholastic was the first and only publisher I approached with Animorphs. Scholastic does only kids books, unlike most publishers, so they pay a lot of attention to them. They have been wonderful.

The "eye on the throne" is a "seed." I planted it hoping it would grow and be useful some day. I'm still waiting to figure out what to do with it.

Don't worry about being fast at writing. That comes with experience. I do an Animorphs in roughly 3 weeks.



I could spend hours of your precious writing time just gushing about how awesome the books are and how you're such a great writer, but I won't. Be thankful. I was just wondering: how do you feel about the other authors who write for the same age-category - i.e. Christopher Pike, R. L. Stine, Bruce Coville or Ann Martin? Do you feel like you have to compete for popularity?
Your #1 fan,
Stalk Eyes

I know this probably seems surprising, but I don't know much about any of them. I've never met any of them. I am fundamentally a rather private person, so I don't go to New York and hang out with editors and writers and so on.

Just recently I began an e-mail correspondance with R.L. Stine. He congratulated me on the success of Animorphs, and I thanked him for blazing the path.

When I started out naturally I wanted to out-sell Ann Martin and Stine. I do have a little competition in my soul. And I'm glad that Animorphs is now the number one middle-reader series. But I don't really think of myself as having to fight for readers. Animorphs is selling far, far better than I ever expected, so mostly I figure I should shut up and be grateful and not obsess over whether some other author is more popular than me.


Dear Ms. Appelgate,

Do you have any plans to create a new character? It would be an excellent idea to make a character who got the power secretely after Elfangor was destroyed. Like someone the animorphs know well. It would be very interesting. One more thing, it would be a good idea (if Jeff will allow it) to take the Darvan out of Changes and put it in the normal animorphs books. Just my thoughts. No I am not a phanatic, in fact I can't read an animorphs book twice. It just isn't the same to me.
Bye now.
Chris a.k.a. The Wolfman

It is a good idea. Which is why I'm doing it. Actually there will be a three book arc, books 20, 21 and 22, which will bring in a new Animorph. I'm just finishing up book #21. Hope you'll like the three books. It feels strange to me, writing a three-book story. Whether we'll have still more new Animorphs after that point, I haven't decided.


Dear Ms. Applegate,

I ADORE your series. It's wonderful. But there are a few things I'd like to say... First of all, let me warn you I'm not one of those kids that go for the big, achingly obvious (at least to me) questions. I like to attack little miniscule details. Don't ask me why, I just like my Science Fiction to make sense. First, number one, Question on my list: What IS the deal with this Morality stuff?? It really annoys me, especially in Cassie, (one reason why I will never become a true Cassie fan). It will make me very pleased if you can correct me on this, or at least explain why it's written that way. So far from what I have learned, Morphing works on DNA, right? And when you Morph, some how you phsycologicly activate this different DNA that is stored inside your cells and make it switch places with your real DNA, causing you, pretty much, to turn into a clone of the animal. Say it was another human you were morphing. (the thing Cassie doesn't like) How could we be violating this person by controling them? Does Morphing duplicate their WHOLE brain AND leave room for the brain of the person who has morphed? Even if it did duplicate their brains completely, this person would not just suddenly be the real person's twin. DNA does not store memories or knowledge. It stores the genetic blueprints to build a certain person. If you morphed that person, sure you'd get the instincts, but knowlege? Memories? Intelligence? No. A human has to learn from birth to be intelligent, even if they were born with their own adult body and brain. And they learn by watching their parents, or the person that raised them. As babies- or morphed clones- they have only the capacity to learn. So, if an Animorph somehow got stuck in another persons body, I suppose over time that person would become intelligent. But not just when morphed for two hours. In conclusion I would like to state that morphing a human would be no different from morphing any other animal, so Cassie shouldn't worry. Uhhh...sorry for that turning into a big long thesis thingy.. um, I guess I won't have time for any other questions or comments. Thank you for putting up with me for the duration of this letter.

P.S. I nearly had a Heart Attack when I heard there would be dragons in Otherworld! I LOVE dragons almost more than I love Animorphs! Just one teeeeensy weeensy little request: Please please PLEASE don't make them those traditional, evil dragons!!!!!! I would be the happiest kid in the whole world (and I'm sure others would be too) if you made them Intelligent and Good!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even a part of the main group of characters!!!!! PLEEEEAASSEEE!!!!!!!!

I don't know, Nat, think that question was long enough?

Okay, first of all, I agree with a lot of what you say. However, Cassie's point of view is not entirely silly. A person's DNA does belong to them. It is the most unique possession one can imagine. It defines you. (Along with experience as you rightly point out.) It is true that what a Yeerk does is worse--seizing control of a fully-formed human being, depriving someone of liberty. But to create an exact replica of a person, which is what the morphing process does, is not a trivial matter, either.

Imagine that someone morphed you, and decided to take the seat next to you in school. Now, of course that person would not be you But their existence would alter your life. You would find yourself being compared to this clone, maybe unfavorably. You might find yourself taking blame for actions of this clone. I suspect you would resent this fact. I mean, you didn't ask to suddenly have an identical twin, right?

In any case, it is never a minor matter to take somehing that does not belong to you. When the kids morph animals and use their DNA, fine, animals can't "own" anything. But your DNA belongs to you, like any other part of your body, and it's not morally acceptable for someone to simply appropriate it for their own uses without your permission.

Maybe what the Yeerks do is a felony, and what the Animorphs contemplated doing was just a misdemeanor, but you can't be mad because a person pauses to consider the right and wrong before they take an action. The Animorphs are fighting for freedom, and there's no freedom without law, and no law without morality.

As for dragons, it seems to me that dragons would be like most other creatures: some good, some bad. It's hard to think of any species (especially our own) that doesn't have a range of behaviors and personalities. What do you think?

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