Posts Tagged Author Interview

Happy 3rd Anniversary STEM Tuesday!! (Enter our Big Giveaway Celebration!)

 

HAPPY 3RD ANNIVERSARY, STEM TUESDAY!!

 

The entire STEM Tuesday team is SO excited to be celebrating our third anniversary!! We have enjoyed every minute of it and hope you have, too.

Our goal, when we started this blog was to provide  engaging, exciting, and inspiring STEM/STEAM activities and literacy connections to all of our readers. Over the past three years, we have taken a deep dive into so many unique and interesting topics.

From conservation, to Health, to Field Work, and even Exploration and Technology. We have featured graphic novels, Women’s History month, sharks, and activity books. And who can forget the posts on epic achievements and fantastic failures? Such important concepts in all of STEM/STEAM.

If you have used STEM Tuesday’s posts in your classroom or homeschool, let us know by commenting below. We’d like to hear what kind of  STEM/STEAM activities and literacy connections your student’s are enjoying. If there is topic that we haven’t covered yet and you’d like to see, please also let us know. You can email us at stemmuf@gmail.com

We, the entire STEM Tuesday team thank you for reading our posts and using our resources in your classroom or homeschool. After all, it’s all about inspiring kids (of all ages) to engage with STEM and STEAM!

As a way to share our excitement of this anniversary, we are going to give YOU the prizes.

Take a look at some of the amazing giveaways being offered:

 

From Author Jennifer Swanson

TWO free books– Beastly Bionics and Save the Crash-test Dummies

 

 

From Author Kirsten W. Larson  

Do one of my FlipGrids and invite me to join. I’ll record a FlipGrid for your students and comment on their videos.

 

Paper Airplane Creations: https://flipgrid.com/6f3beaf2

 

From Mike Hays

“Catch a Wave!” STEM Tuesday Prize Pack

For the budding young physicist, here’s an electromagnetic wave prize package inspired by the “Catch a Wave” STEM Tuesday Spin-Off post at MG Book Village. (link: https://mgbookvillage.org/2020/02/13/stem-tuesday-spin-off-catch-a-wave-edition/ )

3’ Horseshoe Magnet, Compass, Bar Magnet Set, Prism, Folding Pocket Magnifying Glass

AND two 30-min. classroom Skype visits

 

 

From Author Mary Kay Carson

TWO activity-filled books as giveaways–Wildlife Ranger Action Guide & Alexander Graham Bell for Kids

 

 

From Author Karen Latchana Kenney 

TWO books for  giveaway: TV Brings Battle into the Home with the Vietnam War and Exploring Auroras

 

From Author Carla Mooney 

TWO books  for giveaway – Inside the Human Body & The Human Genome: Mapping the Blueprint of Human Life

 

 

From Author Janet Slingerland

One book Atoms and Molecules AND a FREE 15-minute Skype Q & A

 

 

From Author Heather L. Montgomery,

Whose books include:  Who Gives a Poop? Surprising Science from One End to the Other and Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill.

One FREE 15-20 minute Skype Visit 

 

 

 

From Author Nancy Castaldo

Whose books include:  The Farm that Feeds Us and Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction

One FREE 20 minute Skype Visit 

ENTER the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget BELOW  

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We salute all of you teachers, librarians, and parents who are doing an AWESOME job teaching your kids/students this school year. If you are looking for virtual visits, please be sure to check our websites.

Many of us are offering activities and virtual events. You can find us all HERE

THANK YOU for reading along with STEM Tuesday. Cheers to another great year. GO STEM!!!

 

 

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Jennifer Swanson is the creator and administrator of STEM Tuesday. Hugely passionate about making STEM engaging and inspiring for kids of ALL ages, she is also the creator of STEAMTeamBooks, a website that highlights new STEM books releasing every year, and also the creator of the new Solve It! for Kids podcast where, along with her co-host, Jed Doherty, they give a peek into the lives of real-life scientists and engineers as they solve problems in their daily jobs.

Interview With Janet Fox, Author of The Artifact Hunters

The Artifact Hunters is one of my favorite books of 2020. So I immediately called dibs on an interview with Janet Fox for MUF. This sequel to THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE combines historical fiction and magic in a fast-paced adventure full of twists and turns.

Let’s get to it!

1. Tell us about The Artifact Hunters.

My main character, Isaac Wolf, is a 12 year old boy living in Prague in 1942, when his parents suddenly send him away alone with a talisman (a pendant in the shape of an “eternity knot”), a mysterious box containing…, and instructions to find Rookskill Castle in Scotland. When he arrives at Rookskill he discovers the Special Alternative Intelligence Unit where gifted children learn to harness their magical powers to support the Allies’ cause. Isaac has to learn that he, too, has magical powers, but to harness and use them he must hunt for a series of magical artifacts that are scattered throughout the past. And what is inside the mysterious box? How can he find those artifacts? And who – or what – is actually hunting him, as he unlocks the answers to these secrets?

2. How did you come up with the idea?

All of my Rookskill books have something to do with time.

In the first book, my protagonist Kat (who is also in this book) knows how to fix clocks, which gives her the ability to defeat the antagonist (there’s a bit of a steampunk element). In this new book, I wanted to play with time travel and the dangers inherent in time loops, time warps, and so on. I also wanted in this book to touch, albeit subtly, on how societies rise and fall and the nature of conflict.

But the real touchstone for me was when I happened upon an article about something called a Death’s Head Watch, which is a totally creepy real thing. https://janetsfox.com/2020/07/the-deaths-head-watch/

3. Do you base your characters on people you know? If yes, spill the beans!

Actually…no. My characters come to me, begging to be written. I’m not kidding.

Of course, there is an element of me in each of them. Kat is especially close to the kid inside me. But I try to enrich them by playing at opposites, at something I would never do or say or think, even if I share their fears or dreams. Each time I start a new story I start with the character first, and build the story around him or her.

4. How much of your real-life experiences play a role in the stories you tell?

When I write I do a lot of research, and my favorite kind of research is travel (which is a little hard to do right now, sadly.) For The Artifact Hunters, I went to Prague, where Isaac is from, and for Charmed Children I visited Scotland. A sense of place is really important to everything I write, so if you look carefully at any of my books you’ll see that they are set in places I’ve lived or visited.

I also have a master’s degree in science (geology), and so science plays a huge role in my work.

5. What books did you like to read when you were a kid? Do those books influence your writing?

My all-time favorite books as a kid were the Narnia books. And yes, they profoundly influence everything I write. I try to invoke that same sense of wonder and magic, and the kid relationships Lewis developed. My first three books are YA novels, and I have one picture book out, but I feel now that my sweet spot is middle grade, and that’s probably due to my love of Narnia.

6. What are you working on now?

I have a third Rookskill novel in proposal stage with my publisher (Viking), so we’ll see whether that’s a go or not. It may depend on how well The Artifact Hunters does, as all things in this business.

I have another book, Carry Me Home, coming out with Simon & Schuster next summer that is really different for me – a contemporary middle grade story about a homeless girl. I really, really love that book and can’t wait to see it out in the world.

But I’ve also been working hard on a “Covid” book, another middle grade fantasy that’s set in contemporary times but with a parallel universes theme. It’s tentative title is The Book of Weirds and Wonders.

7. What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’ve been a pantser forever but I’m trying really hard to plan more, and am finding my way to a technique I really like (that I’m teaching as part of my coaching business https://janetsfox.com/book-coaching/ ). I love pantsing but it makes the work so much more difficult. I’m working on this new in-between strategy called the inside-outline.

https://montana.scbwi.org/events/webinar-a-new-way-to-outline-with-author-janet-fox/

8. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up.

It’s so amazing to me to think that I’ve written and published as much as I have. I remember too well the early days, the rejections, the disappointments, the thinking I’d never make it, never publish anything, never be read. There’s only one real reason I did make it – I didn’t give up.

Oh, sure, I studied craft. I have my MFA in writing. I work hard. I’ve been lucky. But honestly, there are many ways to reach your dreams and only one thing that will really get you there and that’s to Never Give Up.

Buy Now!

 

 

Spooky, Scary Stitchers

For those of you who love spooky, scary middle grade, I have a treat for you. The Stitchers (ABRAMS/Amulet 2020), by debut author Lorien Lawrence, releases this week, and alongside that spooky scary goodness, it’s SO. MUCH. FUN.

The Stitchers Cover

About The Stitchers:

Thirteen-year-old Quinn Parker knows there’s something off about her neighbors. She calls them “the Oldies” because they’ve lived on Goodie Lane for as long as anyone can remember, but they never seem to age. Are they vampires? Or aliens? Or getting secret experimental surgeries? Or is Quinn’s imagination just running wild again?

If her dad were still around, he’d believe her. When he was alive, they’d come up with all sorts of theories about the Oldies. Now, Quinn’s determined to keep the investigation going with the help of Mike, her neighbor and maybe-crush. They’ll have to search for clues and follow the mystery wherever it leads–even if it’s to the series pond at the end of the street that’s said to have its own sinister secrets. But the Oldies are on to them. And the closer Quinn and Mike get to uncovering the answers, the more they realize just how terrifying the truth may be.

Interview with Debut Author Lorien Lawrence

Welcome, Lorien Lawrence, to the Mixed-Up Files! As I often do, I shared your book with my son, who’s a middle grade and young adult reader.  He loved the Stitchers–which meant he and I got to collaborate on these interview questions.  NOTE: This interview has been edited slightly in order to group topics and transitions.

HMC: I am always curious about origin stories – where did you get the idea for the Stitchers?

LL I think I say this in another!er interview, but there’s nothing scarier than losing someone you love. I wrote this story after my dad suddenly died. I had just moved back to my hometown with my husband, and we would go for these really long walks and try to make sense of what happened. Eventually, my childhood streets brought back happy memories and feelings of nostalgia instead of sadness. And we started to play a “what if” sort of game, where we took turns wondering “what if that house was haunted?” or “what if that pond was magical?” Eventually, one of these “what ifs” turned into THE STITCHERS. So I guess writing Quinn’s story helped me come to terms with my own grief.

Writing About Loss for MG

HMC: (As you just mentioned,) your main character, Quinn, is coping with the loss of her father … and picking up where he left off, investigating the same mystery. Loss and fear are pretty scary subjects no matter how old you are … how did you balance respecting your middle-grade readers’ maturity with knowing when the subject matter needed to be age-appropriate?

Finding this balance was probably the most difficult part of the writing experience for me. I knew I needed to show Quinn coming through the other side, so to speak. She doesn’t miss her dad any less, but she learns how to live a new kind of normal. Her dreams continue, her friendships continue, even though she herself has changed. But the change isn’t all bad: she’s stronger. She’s braver. She’s more determined and more vulnerable. And she realizes that she’s still surrounded by people who love her.

Questions from HMC’s Son

HMC’s Son: What was your favorite part of this book to write? 

LL: Great question! My favorite part to write was the scene in the basement of the funeral home. I won’t give it away, but it was delightfully gruesome and fun to imagine!

HMC’s Son: What did you like most about Quinn? 

LL: Another great question! I like that Quinn is flawed. She lies. She hides the truth. She hides her true feelings. But these are things that normal 12 year olds do. And by the end of the book, she makes things right.

HMC’s Son: This book is the beginning of a series. Can you give us any hints about what is coming up next for Quinn and Mike?

LL: The next book in the series is called THE COLLECTORS, and it comes out next fall. It follows Quinn once again as she and Mike launch into a new supernatural investigation – but I don’t want to give too much away! 😊 I can say that it picks up directly where THE STITCHERS leaves off.

Stitchers Fan Art

                                                                                Stitchers Fan Art, by Elle Jauffret

Eternal Youth, Monsters, and Witches

HMC: Another interesting theme in your book is about the eternal quest for youth … and how it can make people do strange things. (!!) What takeaways do you think this element in your plot has for the middle-grade reader?

I think I was inspired by the day-old conundrum of kids wanting to be older, and adults wanting to be younger. In reality, we need to just learn to appreciate where we are in the moment.

HMC: In this book, I found lots of literary and theater connections, from Frankenstein to the Crucible. Did any of those influence your writing?

LL: Oh my gosh, I’m thrilled that you noticed! YES! I’ve always been taken with Frankenstein and The Crucible – really the whole idea that society creates the monsters, not the other way around.

Open Mic Question

HMC: What do you want us to know about The Stitchers that we haven’t asked?

LL: A quick fun fact: I have tiny clues hidden in THE STITCHERS and THE COLLETORS that hint towards future books in the series!

THE PANDEMIC QUESTIONS

HMC: I’ve begun a new line of pandemic questions in all my interviews because I’m curious about how we as kidlit authors are going to handle the pandemic in our writing going forward. You’re a middle school teacher in New England – will you be going back into the classroom to teach this fall, or will you be teaching virtually?

LL: As of right now, I still don’t know where or how I will be teaching. I am assuming that I’ll be teaching virtually as I did in the spring. I’m from Connecticut, and our state got hit with the virus early, so my school closed in early March and remained closed for the year. Whatever I end up doing, I’ll try to make the best of it!

HMC: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your writing life?

LL: I grew up with (and still struggle) with anxiety, and writing has always been a coping mechanism for me. So I’ve actually been writing a lot! I wrote two new manuscripts during quarantine. I don’t know if these books will ever see the light of day, but it helps me to throw myself in a made-up world when times are scary.

HMC: Will Quinn and Mike have pandemic related conversations in your new book?

LL: This is a great question! I honestly don’t know the answer! They won’t be talking about it in the first two books in the series, but if I’m able to publish more adventures of Quinn and Mike, I’ll have to have a serious think about what to do with that. Maybe I’ll ask my students if they would be interested in reading about something so scary and recent. I’m sure they’ll have strong opinions either way!

((More about pandemic writing in this archived post on Writing Prompts for a Pandemic))

HMC: Thanks so much, Lorien. Congratulations on your debut and best of luck to you!

Debut Author Lorien Lawrence

Lorien Lawrence

Lorien Lawrence is a writer and middle school English teacher from Connecticut. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found hunting ghosts with her family. The Stitchers is her debut novel.

Where to find the Stitchers:

  1. Bookshop.org
    1. Click on this link, then search for THE STITCHERS — or any other book.
  2. Amazon