Today we have The Mixed-Up Files very own Jennifer Swanson here for an interview and giveaway! Her latest non-fiction book, SUPER GEAR, just released and we’re both super excited to share it with you!
SUPER GEAR is one of the 12 books on the International Literacy Association “Jump Start Your Summer” reading selections:
“This reader-friendly introduction to nanotechnology breaks down the science and describes the processes of nanomanufacturing in a clear and understandable way. Packed with photographs, diagrams, and text boxes, this book will appeal to athletes and sports enthusiasts—and the curious. – Literacy Worldwide
Cutting-edge science; high-performance sports
How are the sports played by Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Michelle Wie, and Usain Bolt related? Nanotechnology! Take a close-up look at sports and nanotechnology, the cutting-edge science that manipulates objects at the atomic level. Nanotechnology is used to create high-tech swimsuits, tennis rackets, golf clubs, running shoes, and more.
Amie: Tell me about your publishing journey and how it started with non-fiction. How long have you been writing non-fiction? What inspired you to take this path?
Jen: I got my first contract to write nonfiction books for kids six years ago. My path is pretty interesting, when I look back on it. I didn’t start out wanting to write science books for kids, at first I wanted to write fiction picture books. Very quickly, I realized that I did not have the talent to do that. A wonderful writer, Elaine Landau suggested that I try science books. After all, I have two degrees in science and am a middle school science teacher. So, I did. It’s been wonderful. I get to write about the things I love and hopefully inspire kids to have the same passion for all things STEM that I do.
And now, 25+ books, myriad of e-books, articles, and conferences later here I am.
Amie: *blinks* TWENTY FIVE BOOKS? Wow! That’s remarkable! Tell me about your inspiration. Does it come in the same or different ways than for fiction? What would you suggest to anyone interested in writing non-fiction?
Jen: Absolutely! Some people think that writing nonfiction is easier than writing fiction and more limiting. I don’t find any of that to be true. Nonfiction kidlit these days is just as creative and thrilling as fiction. Good nonfiction uses lively writing, big, intriguing hooks, great storylines, and engages and excites the reader. I get my inspiration by reading everything I can, newspapers, articles, books, watching TV, and just listening to people talk. That’s the same way most fiction readers get their inspiration.
If you are interested in writing nonfiction, I would suggest opening your mind to inquiry. Ask lots of questions about topics that interest you or others. Investigate things you don’t understand. Most times, you’ll discover that one “gem” that makes you say. “Hmmm… I didn’t know that.” That’s the beginning of your book.
Amie:It’s amazing where we can find inspiration. Speaking of inspiration, where did you get the idea for SUPER GEAR?
Jen: I knew I wanted to write a book about nanotechnology. After all, it’s in practically everything we do and use in our daily lives. But I needed a big hook. One that would capture the attention of a trade publisher. In my house, sports has always been important. As a kid, I grew up in a family with 3 brothers, all of whom loved sports. It was always on the T.V. Then, when I watched the 2008 Olympics and saw the controversy over the full-body swimsuits, I thought… “There’s something there…” I kept working on the idea until we were watching Disney’s The Incredibles movie. In the movie, Iceman walks around saying, “Where is my super suit?” And voila the idea stuck. Thus SUPER GEAR was born. It’s funny when you finally get ideas that work. (Of course, it took me four years to get it ).
Amie: Fascinating! Sparks of ideas are all around us. So now we know about your inspiration and where you find it, but why did you decided to write these non-fiction books for the middle grade audience?
Jen: I think middle grade is the time when kids are really excited about science. If you tap into their enthusiasm and natural inquiry with great books filled with awesome science and engineering, then you can hook them for life. These are the kids that will grow up to become the scientists and engineers that change the world.
Amie: That’s so true. It’s a great time to mold, shape, and inspire these growing minds. One last question. Airplanes or submarines? Spaghetti and meatballs or tacos? Strawberries and cream or peanut butter fudge?
Jen: Airplanes. Submarines are too close quarters.Tacos. Definitely. I could eat Mexican food every night. Strawberries and cream. Strawberry shortcake is my favorite dessert.
Amie: bzzzzt! The correct answer was alien. Thanks for joining us here, Jen and congrats on the release of Super Gear!
Jen: Thanks so much, Amie!
Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award winning author of over 25 nonfiction books for children. Her books in the “How Things Work” series by The Child’s World were named to the 2012 Booklist’s Top 10 Books for Youth. Top reviews include a starred review in Booklist, and recommended reviews from School Librarians Workshop, Library Media Connection, the NSTA and a book in a series that was a JLG Selection. Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in in all her books but especially, BRAIN GAMES (NGKids) and SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up (Charlesbridge). You can visit Jennifer at her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com on Facebook or Twitter
Amie Borst is the author of the Cinderskella, Little Dead Riding Hood, and the forthcoming Snow Fright! All three books are part of the Scarily Ever Laughter series.