As many of you know, I’m interested in nonfiction kid lit more than the average agent. So when Jennifer Swanson, prolific author of more than 25 STEM-related books for kids, queried me, I responded to her right away! Her impressive catalog of books includes this year’s EVERYTHING ROBOTICS and last year’s BRAIN GAMES, both pubbed by National Geographic. Her amazing ability to take advanced concepts and break them down in a way that is digestible for kids truly impressed me and I was so thrilled when she came on board. Today her book SUPER GEAR: NANOTECHNOLOGY AND SPORTS TEAM UP, published by Charlesbridge, debuts. It’s a really cool book that examines nanotechnology and how it’s used by world class athletes in their equipment, facilities and attire. Jen, who has degrees in both engineering and teaching, does what she does best and explains the exciting and cool science that makes our world go round. A great book for kids who love science and/or sports! Here’s my Q&A with Jen:
What inspired you to write SUPER GEAR?
I think nanotechnology is COOL! I really wanted to share this unique and cutting edge science with young readers. Nanotechnology is in everything you do. From the cell phones you use every day to the eco-friendly techniques in our oceans, to tiny nanotech machines that keep us well. The trick was finding the right hook to present the material. My inspiration for this book came from two things: my love of sports and my love of the Disney movie, The Incredibles. In my family, sports was always a big deal and every year we would sit down to watch the Olympics. I was fascinated by the controversy of the full-body swimsuits that Michael Phelps and other elite swimmers wore at the 2008 Olympics, when they broke tons of records. When I learned that it was because they were made using nanotechnology, I was interested. Still, I needed a great hook and title. That’s where the movie comes in. Anyone remember the part where IceMan is walking around during The Incredibles movie saying “Where is my supersuit?” Yep. That was it. The idea was formed and SUPER GEAR was born!
What was your favorite part about writing the manuscript?
I learned SO much about nanotechnology and materials science. It was really fascinating to me. I love learning new things and then being able to communicate the concepts behind this cutting-edge science to kids is just awesome! I hope my book may inspire some of my readers to become scientists and engineers one day.
What was your least favorite part about writing your manuscript?
I had to do a lot of searching to find the right resources for this book. Since a lot of what I wrote about was proprietary equipment, it was sometimes difficult to find the information that I needed for the book.
Where and when do you write?
I write in my home office. I try to write every day, but it depends. More often than not, I am working really hard on a deadline, and that can mean 8 hours or more of straight researching and writing. But some days, when I don’t have a deadline looming, I just take the day off and surf the internet or go on a walk with my dogs.
What was the most surprising part about the editorial process?
How often we went through the manuscript. I am a fast writer and I research as I write. The editorial process on this book was very involved, mostly because it was such a complex topic. My editor, Alyssa Pusey, was fantastic to work with!! She challenged me and encouraged me, she asked tough questions and she gave great edits. I learned so much about the editorial process. I give her great kudos for hanging in there with me on this challenging topic!!
Who are some writers who inspire your work?
Wow. There are so many. My mentor for the last ten years has been Clara Gillow Clark. She is just amazing. But I am also inspired by Mary Kay Carson, Melissa Stewart, and many other awesome authors.
What advice can you give to aspiring children’s book writers?
Never give up! This business is hard, even for those of us who are getting contracts. It’s an up and down kind of thing. You can work really hard on a proposal or manuscript and never have it go anywhere and sometimes something you aren’t too sure about will hit and get picked up. Have faith in yourself. Get a critique group, not just for help with your manuscript but also for a squad to cheer you on and hold you up when you’re down. Being a children’s author is an amazing job, and one that I’m so lucky to have!
Find out more about Jen at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com!