Introducing Girls to STEM: An Interview with Award Winning Author Laurie Wallmark
Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark’s debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, 2015), received four starred trade reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal) and many national awards such as Outstanding Science Trade Book and Cook Prize Honor Book.
Her recently released picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), earned a Kirkus star and a Parents’ Choice Gold Medal.
Laurie has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not writing, she teaches computer science at Raritan Valley Community College.
I would like to welcome and thank Laurie for sharing her thoughts and time with Write on Fight on.
How long have you been writing?
In grade school, I liked to write songs. In high school, I switched to poetry. After that, there was a very long break in my writing career. I’ve been writing for children since 1999.
What book made you realize you wanted to be a writer?
It wasn’t a book, but rather an idea that made me realize I wanted to be a writer. I love reading middle grade books, and one day I had an idea for a story of my own. This idea turned into the first novel I ever wrote for children. It may never get published, but it was my first step on the path to becoming a writer.
Do you have any quirky writing rituals or odd sources of writing inspiration?
I think like most writers, I try to keep my senses open to the world around me. Inspiration can come from a newspaper article, an overheard snippet of conversation, or even a tingle on my skin while walking outside.
What is the most famous book you’ve never read?
So many books. So little time. I am woefully under-read in classic non-Western literature. When I was in school, it wasn’t part of the curriculum, and I didn’t know to seek out books like Ramayana and The Tale of Genji. I’m working to fill in these gaps in my education.
Why do you write?
This one’s easy. Writing is fun (except when it isn’t).
If you could build a super-author consisting of three, living or deceased, authors who would you pick and why?
I’d pick three authors from the golden age of science fiction—Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. I appreciate the straightforward way they incorporated science into their stories, just like I try to do with my picture book biographies of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).
Of your invented characters, who would you like to meet for lunch? Why?
I’d love to eat lunch with Rivka, from my book Rivka’s Lessons. Rivka is a little Jewish girl who lived in the Lower East Side in the 1920s. She can’t wait to go to school and learn, so she takes matters into her own hands. I figure Rivka would enjoy splitting a corned beef on rye with me.
What are you currently working on that’s got you excited?
I’m writing another picture book biography, this time of a woman mathematician.
Where can we find your books? Where can we find you?
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