Next I’ve got a Meet the Author interview for you with the lovely Jordan Bell. We’re talking about bringing “grown up science” to little minds, flying super powers, bottomless tea, her most recent book Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution and more….
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m an Australian author who writes about science for children. Although I’m a trained psychologist, science has been my “intellectual true love” ever since I was a child. A few years ago I decided I wanted to bring “grown up science” to little minds, and the Aunt Jodie’s Guides series was born. With a 7-yr old daughter it’s particularly important to me that there are good female role models in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math).
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
I started thinking one day: there must be lots of parents out there who want to give their children access to some of the most important scientific ideas in our world, without having to wait until those ideas are taught in school. If we want the next generation to grow up as informed and educated citizens, we need to make sure they all understand the science that underpins our modern world. Instead of leaving it to the ones who grow up to study STEM at university, let’s make sure that a basic scientific education is provided to everyone, just like we make sure everyone grows up learning to read and write. The idea for Aunt Jodie’s Guides grew from there. I started with the theory of evolution, and I’m currently working on book two in the series.
How long does it take you to write a book?
So far the first drafts have all come together very quickly, in one to two weeks; and then the research and revision to make sure they are scientifically accurate, and stronger as stories, happens over the next year. Turning my first book from an idea to a printed book took eight years, though most of that time was spent navigating the publishing process.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I loved cooking and reading when I was a kid, and my auntie joked that I should write cookbooks when I grew up! I was raised with the idea that my work should make the world a better place, rather than chasing every dollar to be wealthy. My current role, supporting university students and writing for children on the side, fulfils me both from a personal perspective, and in terms of living up to my childhood ideals.
What jobs have you done other than being an author?
I am currently working as the Dean at a residential college for university students in Australia. But I’ve had many other jobs including child psychologist, government purchasing officer for the Health and Education departments, barista and waitress.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go and why? (Backwards or forwards!)
As a bona-fide science fiction fan it would have to be forward. I’d love to head forward in time and see if humans make it off the Earth and live successfully on Mars, in the asteroid belt, on the moons of Saturn or Jupiter, or even make it out of the solar system!
Other than writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I like taking gentle walks in nature, and during COVID lockdown I discovered that I really enjoy cross stitch.
What is the best thing you’ve done in your life so far?
Raised a smart, funny, kind, curious 7-yr old.
Describe yourself using three words only…….
Nerdy science mum
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to fly. I wouldn’t mind if it was “with a jetpack”, “like Superman” or “like an Angel with big feathery wings” – just being able to take to the air whenever I wanted to, free as a bird, would be amazing.
You win a million pounds – you give half to charity. Which charity do you pick and why? What would you do with the rest of the money?
I’d give it to a charity with a proven track record of achieving political action on climate change – I’d probably ask Greta Thunberg for advice on where to send it – because climate change is the existential issue of our time. If we don’t get action on this critical issue soon, the other issues on the table won’t really matter!
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
In order as a reader, I like b), then a), then c). As a writer you have to balance all three!
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
It’s probably no surprise to learn that I’m a big science fiction reader – the ability to ask interesting questions about human behaviour by changing the parameters of one or two aspects of our world is something I’ve found fascinating for the longest time. Some people read science fiction for the technology; I read it for what it tells me about humans. (Although, ok, some of the tech is pretty cool too…)
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
Before COVID my favourite way to write was to carve out some time on a weekend, take my laptop to my favourite local cafe, and sit there typing with a bottomless pot of tea for a couple of hours. Lately I’ve had to adapt this routine to my home office and my own teapot. My best friend gave me a gorgeous tea-set for my birthday though, so I have been using that when I’m writing.
Who is the ideal reader for your books?
I’d say it’s a smart, curious kid who wants to know more about how the world works. If they are a little younger, like 7, maybe mum or dad is reading Aunt Jodie’s Guides with them at bedtime. If they are older, say 10-11, they are reading it themselves, and using the built in glossary and pronunciation guide to learn how to say all the new science words. I always loved the independence that a good glossary gave me when I was a kid, so I was sure to include it when I wrote my books.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution is available at www.gumroad.com/jordanbell
Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time. Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s. What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working? Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them.
Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents: Do you know what happened after the dinosaurs died out, but before humans existed? Could you explain Darwin’s theory of evolution to your child? Parents, learn along with your kids as we explore the key contributors to evolution: inheritance, variation and selection. Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. Story-based learning helps everyone remember scientific concepts. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book, and how to pronounce them. So give a gift of knowledge to your children and set them up for a lifetime of STEM success!
final words from chelle…
Thanks so much for coming over to talk to us! I love that you bring science to kids! There is so much information out there; and the illustrations look fab too! It’s interesting that you’d go forwards if you had a time machine, most people want to go backwards – I think from fear of what we might find but at least you know what you’d want to look for! I also think that the fact your book as an inbuilt glossary and pronunciation guide is fantastic! What a difference that will make to children (and probably some adults too) in understanding what they’re reading! Fabulous idea!
Thanks again for coming over and talking to us!
If you have any questions or comments for Jordan then make sure you get in touch lovelies.
Back soon with a review for you….