When you were my age (10), did you like to read? I loved to read mysteries. I read every single Nancy Drew book that was written at that time, and also the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden series. I also gobbled up nonfiction books like crazy. I was very interested in learning about the world around me.
What is a book that made an impact on you? This is a tough one. There are so many. I have to say the one book that really showed me that I could tackle tougher physics and engineering topics for kids is a book called A Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn DeCristofano. It’s so well-written and deals with the very complex topic of black holes in an interesting and easy to read manner.
Is it hard to come up with book ideas?You write about real things so where do your ideas come from? (Lil Bro – why write about car safety for kids? I like it but most kids are not interested.) I am a very curious person. I started a science club in my garage when I was 7 years old. I wanted to learn more about how things worked in our world. My intense curiosity has followed me my whole life. I come up with ideas, just by wondering… “how does that work?”
As for why I wrote about cars, I actually do believe that kids are interested in cars. I remember playing with Hot Wheels with my brothers as a kid and then watching my own kids do it. This book was inspired by my interest in the self-driving car. I would really like to drive one some day, but most of all, I think it is amazing how much techonolgy and engineering must come together to get this to work. Wow!
In researching your books, what is coolest thing you have done or encountered? I am very lucky in that I get to cool places and meet amazing people in my research. I have been to NASA, Brookhaven Laboratory — where they have a small particle collider, the Field Museum in Chicago, and most recently to CERN the home of the large hadron collider in Geneva, Switzerland. That was the coolest thing I have done, so far.
Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? There are alot of great authors out there. If you like science and technology, I encourage them to go into the library and spend some time in that section. Find books that are engaging and exciting. There are tons of them there! If you want to find some great books about STEM, I encourage you to check out a blog that I run: STEM Tuesday. It is split up into different topics so you can search it. There are even some fun activities to do on your own or with your class, too. https://fromthemixedupfiles.com/stem-tuesday/
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read a lot of books. And also try to keep a journal. I did that as a child. I wrote down my thoughts and ideas. It’s fun to look back on that now. Just have fun with writing.
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?I do hear from my readers and that is one of my favorite parts about being an author. I get pictures and letters from them. A lot of the time they tell me about their favorite part of the book. They ask me questions and sometimes tell me how they were inspired and now want to become a scientist or engineer. That is awesome!
If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? Harry Potter without a doubt. I mean who wouldn’t want to live in that creative, exciting world with magic?
Great question! Not only did I LOVE to read, I still have many of my old paperbacks. (My mom saves everything!!) I loved both realistic fiction and fantasy. A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorites, but I was also really fascinated by Harriet the Spy and her misunderstood friend Beth Ellen. What I loved best about these stories is that I felt like I knew the characters so well—they became like friends.
What is a book that made an impact on you?
I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time, and that story having a big impact on me. The main character, Meg Murry, had thick glasses and braces and felt misunderstood—just like I did! It was the first time I really connected with a character. That feeling has stayed with me and continues to help me remember how powerful it is for kids to find themselves in stories.
Is it hard to come up with book ideas?
Stories are everywhere and every now and then—especially when I am hiking with my dog, Meadow—characters pop into my head. I’ve found that if I listen really hard to these characters, they will lead me to a good story!
What author or book have you read recently that impacted you?
I love to read biographies—especially about women who have done amazing things but never got recognized for their achievements. Recently, I discovered Marie Tharp who was the first person to scientifically map the world’s oceans. I read two books about her. One is a picture book called Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea, by Robert Burleigh. The other is Soundings, The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt. I loved Marie Tharp’s story so much that she became an important part of my most recent novel, A Galaxy of Sea Stars, which comes out in February 2020.
Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
I loved Jess Redman’s book, The Miraculous. I adore her writing and the way her stories make my heart feel. She has another book coming out next year called Quintessence that looks amazing too!!
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Write every day and read, read, read! My seventh grade English teacher had us write in a journal every single day. At first I thought, this is too hard, I can’t do this every day. But when I got into the habit of writing every day, I realized how much I loved it. I could write about anything – my day, my family, my friends – no one was judging what I wrote about and that helped the words flow. It was also a way to get through challenges and helped me put things in perspective. I still have all of my journals and they are such a treasure. They are a window into 10-year-old Jeanne and help me remember how it was really hard to be a kid some days.
As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes! I LOVE hearing from my readers. I’ve received some awesome emails and some beautiful art from kids who have read Ruby in the Sky. I love hearing how readers have connected with Ruby and Ahmad, that they’ve found meaning in the story, or simply that they thought it was good book.
If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
A Wrinkle in Time again!!! (Best book of all time!) I love how Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who, teach Meg about tesseracts, which are a “wrinkle in time” that allows them to travel to other planets. I would love to tesser along with Meg and Calvin and Charles Wallace to Uriel, the two-dimension planet, as well as Ixchel to spend time with Aunt Beast. Even tessering to the dark planet of Camazotz where IT is holding Meg’s father prisoner would be a thrilling adventure!
1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you? When I was 10 years old in 1996 a really cool new series of books just came out. They were called Goosebumps and the author R. L. Stine was from Ohio (where I am from). I loved all the stories, even though they were scary, and really loved the cover art for every book.
2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you? I just started re-reading one of my favorite series of books, The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is really amazing when humans create entire other worlds in their mind and somehow all of us are able to read and create those worlds along with them.
3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like? Well I really don’t feel like an author yet! I spend most of my days drawing. Drawing on skin for tattoos, painting commissions for clients, designing logos and branding for companies, and drawing Frankie’s world. This is the first time any words of my own have been used in a project. So my usual day as an author looks like a visual artist.
4. Is there a newer or less know author you think kids should know about? I don’t know if there is one particular new author who jumps out. I will say that I am a fan of how many new authors there are, and the ease at which you can access all of them via the internet. Our world is so small and connected now that I think it’s a really great time to explore what’s out there.
5. What is a cool thing about being an author? It’s pretty neat to be interviewed by you guys! Also holding a book you wrote in your hands feels pretty cool.
6. How are you an author and tattoo artist? I’ve never been very good at doing one thing at a time. I think the best way to balance things you love is to align them. I love to draw and I love to tell stories. That’s what Frankie is, and what I do in my tattoos.
7. If you could portal into any book which would it be? Eeeek I love this question!… I am going to say anything Roald Dahl. I want to be in a world with a little wonder, a little compassion, and a little creepiness!
I want to say thank you so much to Bridget and the Books for talking to me. I hope you enjoy hanging with Frankie!
1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you? JA: I had so many! Without question, the biggest influence was Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. I can’t quite explain why, but I would read Looking Glass obsessively — a chapter or two every night before bed. I did this for over 10 years! Which means I’ve literally read the book 100s of times. I still have no idea why I did that.
2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you? (Sweep was one of my favorite books last year and I love Peter Nimble & Sophie Quire)JA: I’m always inspired by good storytelling. This week, I read My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder. It was such a wonderful book!
3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like?JA: Every morning, I do the New York Times crossword puzzle. Then I write for a few hours. Then I take a walk. It’s not a bad life.
4. Is there a newer or less know author you think kids should know about?JA: I really like this question! I’m not sure she’s “less known,” but I often urge fans of my Peter Nimble books to check out Caroline Carlson’s series, The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates. They’re pirate books with magic! And they share a similar sensibility to Peter Nimble … only much funnier!
5. What is a cool thing about being an author?JA: I get a chance to meet other authors I admire. That never gets old.
6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.JA: Who told you that? It’s full of rainbows, cupcakes, pens, and pots of gold!
7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic?JA: Book access and diversity are hugely important topics … but I don’t think that they are necessarily the jobs of writers. The job of a writer is to write the best stories they can. That being said, I think that all readers (including those who write) need to work to expand their horizons and read outside of their comfort zones. I’m so grateful to the librarians, bloggers, teachers, and gatekeepers who have taken up these causes!
8. If you could portal into any book which would it be?JA: There’s a beautiful chapter in Wind in the Willows called “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” It works as a standalone story (as many chapters in that book do). Whenever I’m sad, I read it.
When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?
I used to love reading Enid Blyton’s children’s books. Her Adventure Series were pretty awesome – four kids going about solving mysteries and having outdoor fun – really got my ‘adventure’ imagination going at a young age. I loved the way she had a theme associated with each book, The River of Adventure, The Castle of Adventure, etc., so that there was a different tone, color and flavor to each adventure.
I feel that I should also mention here that while I was growing up, I hadn’t encountered many novels where a female character gets to be a main protagonist. I really wanted to see girls taking on the leadership roles in books involving adventures. And so, when I decided to write about galactic adventures, I wanted it to be about a girl. The Galactic Adventures of Hazel – Gurecoa, is the first book of the series. This story is about a 12-year old girl, Hazel, and her friends who travel to different galaxies to find out what Gurecoa really is. This is an entertaining novel which will appeal to both girls and boys who can relate to Hazel, a people person, in many ways.
2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you?
I just finished reading “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. It is amazing how masterfully this genius scientist explains the complexities of the workings of the Universe with simple analogies and spatters his accounts with wit. His concepts of time and space, singularities, black holes, arrow of time are both mind boggling and inspiring. I was overwhelmed by the intricacies and the scale of the universe in terms of the parameters of space and time.
It was indeed a great read and provided me the necessary fuel to channel my imagination in the right direction in the coming months. The more you know about science and technology, the better you will be able to do justice to a sci-fi fantasy book.
3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like?
My typical day would be to sit in front of my laptop and type away chapter after chapter talking about the series “The Galactic Adventures of Hazel” and be blissfully “absent” from Planet Earth for at least a few hours, except of course when I have to munch on something which painfully brings me back to Earth. Anyway. But to be able to put that kind of effort means there is also a lot of planning and thinking that goes before it.
As an author, I have this constant background process that runs in my mind, where I’ll be thinking about how to add a new character or to what world does Hazel go to next. Small things such as looking at a building or going horseback riding can trigger one’s imagination, and I would be quickly jotting notes on my phone when that happens. I guess, authors are like scientists in the department of creativity.
4. Is there a newer or less known author you think kids should know about?
A few years ago, I read the Septimus Heap series written by Angie Sage. It took me on adventures through a world of magic and I couldn’t help but fall in love with these remarkable characters: Septimus Heap, Jenna and Marcia Overstrand as I went through her seven books. Her use of humor takes the story to a whole new level. If anyone loves Harry Potter, they would enjoy reading this series as well.
It is amazing how authors start with an idea and bring out a whole new world for all the readers to enjoy.
5. What is a cool thing about being an author?
Personally, being an author, I find there is never a dull moment. There so much imagination and creativity that goes into the works that it never grows stale. I can’t imagine how a little bit of writing can transform a dull lack luster day into an exciting journey of imagination and fun.
Another thing, which I frequently talk about, is how writing has taken me on a roller coaster ride. Here I am, creating a whole set of galactic adventures and worlds of the 46th century, and I can’t help myself but feel, I’m actually going on an adventure with Hazel and friends. I create a scene where Hazel has seconds to make a decision to escape from a sea monster, for example, and as I write, it’s funny that I start feeling anxious or thrilled as the story unfolds. I used to think that it is only the readers who feel these emotions but I have to say even as an author I’m not exempt from them.
6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.
There’s a lot of commitment that goes into being an author. It’s like having your own enterprise. It’s not just writing, but like I explained there is a lot of imagination and creativity that needs to go into it. At any given point of time, say take today for example, I am not only writing my manuscript for my third book in the series, but also marketing my first book and working with my publisher on the publication of the second book. Additionally, one has to handle book signings, interviews and more importantly providing answers to amazing kids like you who are interested in knowing more about the book and my journey.
On top of that, if you are a new author you may have other obligations such as taking on a full-time job to support yourself financially. But if one loves what he/she does, I guess every experience and phase teaches authors something which ultimately leads them closer and closer to their goals.
7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic?
That’s a great question. With the internet, I guess accessibility has become somewhat easier, as a book could be downloadable from anywhere in the world. Although my book is available as a soft cover, hard cover and ebook formats, in the coming years I hope to endeavor to make it more access friendly by way of audio books, translations, picture books to name a few.
Diversity is such a talked about term these days and the author that comes to my mind who has done a most remarkable job is Rick Riordan. His fantasy novels on Magnus Chase have such a collection of diverse characters that it is both a delight and wonder to read.
My book takes place in the 46th century where galactic travels and interactions with other alien species are a norm. It inherently speaks diversity in a futuristic, imaginary way. You see a mishmash of characters: Hazel, the main protagonist and her brother are part-Tarian, an alien race inhabiting a future Earth, their friend Lumens is from a light dimension who appears to be a sixty-year old man but there is more to be said about his age. And then there’s this AI Doorbell friend that is both annoying and nosy. With diversity in that era being as normal as checking your internet or using your cell phone in this age, the book delves more into friendships and cultivating deep and rich bonds.
8. If you could portal into any book which would it be?
From my childhood I have been interested in Space and the Universe. I was curious as to what lay beyond our planet Earth and if there was life beyond. As a little girl I wanted to explore distant galaxies and far-off planets. Unfortunately, advanced space travel is something not yet known to our species and sadly, under these present circumstances I couldn’t be a space explorer as I had imagined.
The Galactic Adventures of Hazel is, I could say, an inspiration and imagination of the childhood fantasies I had had of the Universe. If ever I get the superpowers to portal into a book, it would be into: The Galactic Adventures of Hazel. I would love to fly the Intergalactic Vehicle (IGV) that Hazel and her friends use and take part in the IGV tournaments, have a row with the annoying Doorbell or enjoy some nice little galactic treats at Himmelska, the famous restaurant in the Milky Way, in Locenburg, the city of Waterfalls!
1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?When I was 10 (WOW, that was a long time ago) I believe I was in 4th grade and I was writing then. I actually won an award for a story I wrote.I can’t think of any particular book that inspired me but I would have to say something rhyming and silly.
2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you?Everyday I read inspirational phrases that are usually in a rhyming format and that’s how I like to write my children’s stories, in a rhyming format.
3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like? My usual day as an author…Well, I work full-time at the local University, and often times I see a child in my travels when I’m out at a store and something they may say, or an adult may say even, may trigger something funny for me to write about.
4. Is there a newer or lesser known author you think kids should know about? Yes. Me! I try to write my stories so they have manners or some kind of meaning in them that children can relate too, in a good way.
5. What is a cool thing about being an author? The best thing about being an author is seeing my hard work in actual print.
6. Is there anything hard about being an author? You are self published so how does that work? Hmmm, finding illustrators is the hardest thing for me. I use a site called createspace to self publish my books. There is certain criteria that must be met as far as number of pages and margins to name a few, but once I have uploaded the text and pictures and the see the final product in print (usually weeks later) it is all worthwhile. I love to write.
7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in the topic? Being an indie author is tough because I am not a salesman or marketer and that kind of comes with self publishing to get my books known. I have read different stories at the local YMCA, children’s center and schools which I enjoy because their faces light up and the questions or statements can be quite funny. I also have my books in a local gift shop in Vassalboro, ME., and I also do craft fairs as available. I also have donated my books to schools and hospitals in hopes of putting a smile on a child’s face.
8. If you could portal into any books which would it be? I’m going to choose mine and say, ‘Fred The Frog’s Big Adventure Story and Coloring Book’. Reason being is because along Fred’s journey he meets many different animals in the forest and it makes for an interesting adventure.
–What kind of librarian are you? Definitely not a traditional one..The library is the heart of the school where children feel welcomed and loved. At my school, the kids want to stop in and get a book. As they are getting new books, they are chatting with me about the ones they want me to purchase or telling me their likes and dislikes about the one they just read. As a librarian, my main goal is providing quality literature for the students to enjoy! When they visit the library, they get a book that they absolutely love so in hopes they go home or back to class to read the book! My school library is twenty-three years old and my drive is to keep it updated as much as possible with the little money that they give me! So as a librarian, I have to advocate for a place that I feel may disappear which makes me so nervous! With the updating of books and resources for not just the kids but the teachers also, my library gets the opportunity to be enjoyed and appreciated! So when kids grow up, they hopefully will know what a library is and take their kids to the library to enjoy books! When the students arrive, we have community time in which we may share some of the books that we have read, read a picture book together that deals with a concept or standard that connects with the grade level that I am working with, and the students will head into stations such virtual reality, Legos, Merge Cubes, 3D printing, green screen recording, or Apps on the ipad. All the stations are centered around the book that we are concentrated on. WHile students are working on their stations, we rotate through to check out books!
–How long have you been a librarian? This will be my third year in the library however my 18th year in education! Prior to becoming a librarian, I taught 12 years in second grade, 2 years in third, and 1 year in 5th grade!
–What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? So this is an interesting story on how I became a librarian..I have always had a love for books as a classroom teacher, parent, and even growing up as a kid. Three years ago, our school librarian retired two weeks before school started. My principal emailed the staff on a Sunday night, letting us know that the librarian was retiring and she would begin looking for someone to fill her position. When I read the email, I asked myself..”I wonder if I could do that job?” The next morning I visited the office of the principal and the assistant principal was with her at the time. I inquired about the position and she asked me if I wanted the job. The words were YES and she turned to me and gave me the job position. I remember asking her..”Do I have an interview?” She replied, “No, if you do all the amazing lessons and get the kids to love you like you do in your regular classroom; I do not have to worry at all that I gave you that position.” My main goal is helping our youth enjoy reading. I hate that the kids think reading is homework. I couldn’t see myself heading back into the regular classroom. I love having the opportunity to work with over 700 kids weekly.
–How do you pick books for your library? You shared that your library was in desperate need of updating! So my first priority is making sure that the resources match the curriculum. When I entered this position, my nonfiction collection was a 2002 collection. A priority for the collection was updating the nonfiction to have books that have current facts and books that the kids could relate to and enjoy in nonfiction. My Donors Choose Projects are fiction books and graphic novels. The kids love them and we did not have any graphic novels in the library when I became a librarian. With the help of Donors Choose, Grants, and Donations, we were able to put a whole new section in the library of graphic novels! We had a successful book fair which allowed me to purchase new picture books. Unfortunately, the library is an older library so there is constant upgrades in our books. This year throws another challenge with a budget cut in our state money. So I will have to write a few more grants to get the kids their LOVES! I also work at purchasing books that showcase ALL types of cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and topics. I want the children to have a diverse thinking and reading can help form that thinking!
–Do you have a favorite author? Oh..this is a challenging question! There are so many! For chapter books, Alan Gratz! I absolutely love historical fiction so his books have that and a wonderful message tied together! In October, he is coming to Raleigh and I am counting down the days! For picture books, my favorite would be Dan Santat. After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up) is my ultimate favorite!
–Can you suggest a new or lesser known author to check out? When I entered into this position, I started to follow a lot of authors on twitter. Ame Dyckman and Josh Funks’ books were not in my library! They are amazing! I have placed a lot of their books into the library and my teachers use their books for instruction also!
–How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? Surprisingly with 700 kids, I am able to personalize in helping them find books. If a kid likes Pokemon, I show him/her the Pokemon books! After he/she is finished reading those, I might encourage a book that takes in a video game world. In my lessons, I often teach about authors and showcase all their books that we have in the library. With the centers in the library, I can take small groups and assist them in finding their book. It does help to have read a lot of books so I can chat with them about the book to know if they are interested in it. The catalog on the computer is a great help so I can type in a subject area and it will populate the books that are related to that subject.
-If you could portal into any book, which would it be? When I was little, my mom always read me the book, Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs. The book was way better than the movie! I would portal back into that book as a kid!