Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome an author I respect and admire, Jennifer Swanson. I especially for her stellar expository nonfiction, as well as the podcast Solve It! for Kids she co-hosts with the awesome Jed Doherty. Check out her latest, The Secret Science of Sports, a middle grade STEM book, published by Black Dog & Leventhal. See her journey below…
BUT first- YAY! Jennifer is generously giving away a free signed copy of her book (US only). All you have to do is comment on this blog post and tell us why you love nonfiction. Contest ends August 9, 2021.
Please describe the journey to publication for The Secret Science of Sports.
I grew up with 3 brothers and a father who love sports. It was natural that I would as well. After all, I spent most of my days playing baseball in the backyard with my brothers, shooting hoops in the driveway, swimming laps in the pool for swim practice, running, hiking, biking, etc. You name it, I’ve played the sport. It only seemed natural that I write a book about something I know and love.
The cool thing about this, is that I had just created this book proposal (it had a different title), when I received an email through my website from an editor at Black Dog and Leventhal who was looking for a book just like this! I felt like I’d won the lottery, which in a sense I had. Since it rarely happens that an editor is looking for a book at the same moment you have just created a nonfiction proposal of said book. WOOT! Anyway, she loved my proposal and bought the book right away. Working with the Black Dog and Leventhal team has been a dream. They are fabulous and this book turned out really well. Aren’t Laurène Boglio’s illustrations fabulous?
Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
That was easy. I’ve loved sports my whole life. I should, I mean I’ve been playing them that long. I grew up in a family with 3 brothers and a father who loved sports. When we weren’t playing wiffleball in the backyard, we were shooting hoops in the driveway, playing croquet, swimming, biking, well, you name it. We pretty much did all the sports. So, it only seemed natural for me to combine my love of STEM and sports.
What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
My writing process varies, based on the project I’m working on. Typically, though, I find a topic I love, then work on figuring out the HOOK, or best angle to approach the topic. I need one that will be intriguing and unique. Then I do the research for the book, hopefully going to visit places I need to, if necessary. Finally, I sit down and write the book. I will do research as I write, too.
Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.
If you picked up this book, it’s probably because you like sports. Maybe you want to see if it has tips for how to improve your game (it does), or how to become more fit (it has that, too), or just because you want to learn more about different types of sports (also there). But wait, the title says, the Science of Sports. That means that this book also teaches you about science. What does a sports book have science in it? Those two subjects seem so different. It’s not as if sitting in a science class can teach you more about your sport than practicing it. Actually, it can.
©Jennifer Swanson, Secret Science of Sports
What draws you to nonfiction?
I was— and still am— that kid who always asked questions. My favorite ones were- how does that work? Why does it work that way? Can we take it apart? For me, writing and reading nonfiction helps to feed my curiosity and allows me to understand how our world works. If any one book I write can help kids to be curious and inspire them to learn more, my life is complete.
Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
I’d love to encourage people to check out my science podcast for kids. This was born out of my 12 years of research working with amazing scientists and engineers. I wanted kids (of all ages) to experience the passion and joy that these scientists and engineers have for their jobs. To understand that doing STEM and STEAM is just as much fun as learning about it. We’ve had some pretty amazing guests—from Fabien Cousteau to a NASA JPL engineer who “drives” the Mars Rover, to an astrophysicist who listens to black holes colliding. https://solveitforkids.com/
Solve It! for Kids
The science podcast for curious & creative kids and their families.
Peek into the world of real-life scientists, engineers, and experts as they solve problems in their every day jobs. Kids and families are then invited to take on a challenge and solve a problem themselves! Join Jennifer and Jeff Gonyea as they ask questions, solve problems, and offer challenges that take curiosity and creativity to a whole new level.
Don’t forget to participate in our weekly challenges! If you do, you can be entered to win a free book. (Different book every month!)
Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts.
Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn DeCristofano This is my all-time favorite STEM nonfiction book. It was the first trade STEM nonfiction that I was introduced to as a new writer, and it has hooked me every since.
Pretty much any of the Scientist in the Field books by HMH
How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg
What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
As Ted Lasso says: be a goldfish. They have the shortest memories. This is a tough business, and it can get you down sometimes, but this way you won’t dwell on it, you’ll forget it. 😊
And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
A goldfish – see above.
Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 45 nonfiction books for children. Using her background in science and history that she received from the U.S. Naval Academy, and her M.S. in Education, Jennifer excels at taking complex facts and making them accessible, compelling, and humorous for young readers, Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in in all her books but especially, Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact and BEASTLY BIONICS which both received Florida Book Awards and NSTA BEST STEM book awards. Her Save the Crash-test Dummies book received an NSTA BEST STEM Award and a Parent’s Choice GOLD Award. Jennifer has been a featured speaker at the Tucson Book Festival, National NSTA conferences, the Highlights Foundation, the World Science Festival (twice), the Atlanta Science Festival (twice) and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival in 2019. You can find Jennifer through her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.
Social media links:
where to buy the book: https://www.blackdogandleventhal.com/titles/jennifer-swanson/the-secret-science-of-sports/9780762473038/
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