Sunday, September 13, 2015

Q&A with Brain Games Author Jennifer Swanson

Today I have an interview with Jennifer Swanson, author of the new Brain Games book. 

1. There are several challenges in the book. How challenging was it to write this book and what was the most challenging part of it?

This book was very challenging to write. The reason? I had to turn a very interactive video-based show into a 2-dimensional book AND make it as interactive and exciting as the show itself.  Whew! Not an easy job. But I think we (my editor and I) managed to do just that. This book is filled with challenges and brain teasers-- all things to get readers up and moving. When you read this book we want you standing on one foot, jumping up and down, turning around, and stretching your brain cells to answer all of the questions. The sidebars are filled with fun and interesting facts for readers to amaze their friends, teacher, and parents. It was challenging to write, but a total blast as well. 

2. Are you left or right brained? Can someone be both?  That's a difficult question.

I probably tend to be more left-brained because I'm a pretty logical thinker, but clearly I have my creative side with my writing. I absolutely think that you can be both left and right-brained.  It's a matter of blending your positive aspects. For example, there are people who write with their right hand but are more comfortable catching a baseball with their left hand. You can have someone who is great at math, but loves music.  Our brains are amazing things and they can handle tons of complex thoughts and actions -- even ones that seem conflicting. 

3. What was your favorite sidebar from the book?

There were so many.... I guess if I have to pick one, I thought this fact was really cool:  "Learning actually changes the physical map of your brain."  If I have to pick my favorite challenge it's the one on page 72 where you have to say the color of the word and not read it. No matter how many times I do that challenge, I still have to stop and think really hard for a few seconds to get it right. 

4. Were you familiar with the television show before writing the book?

Actually, I was not. Shhh... don't tell my editor but we were 'Mythbusters' fans-- still are. But I have to say once I got asked to write this book I sat down and watched every episode. Pretty soon my husband and my teenagers were right next to me on the couch. BRAIN GAMES is a really fun show!

5. What advice do you have for aspiring writers who want to write nonfiction?

Go for it!  Writing nonfiction is fun. You get to learn all this cool stuff and then find electrifying and interesting ways to present it to kids. Your job is to get kids EXCITED about Science - or whatever nonfiction topic you are writing about. Nonfiction is hot, hot, hot with publishers, too right now. So now's the time. Dive in and write nonfiction! 

6. What's on the horizon for you? Do you have an upcoming book or project?

As a matter of fact, I have a new book coming out with Charlesbridge next summer that I am very excited about. It's called: SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up!  It's a book about how  nanotechnology is changing the shape of sports. Nanotechnology is the science of the extremely small and yet sports manufacturers are using to create stronger, more durable swimsuits, track suits, baseball bats, tennis rackets, and even running shoes. It's  pretty awesome science!  The book will be out in June, right before the Summer Olympics where you will see many new nanotech products in action! 

Thanks for the interview, Jeff. I really enjoyed talking with you today.

I'd like to leave your readers with my favorite saying: Don't forget to notice the science all around you!

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