Thursday, May 03, 2012

Why I Wrote Sleuth or Dare

Well, it’s not why I wrote the series. I write because when I don’t my brain gets itchy, but that’s a whole other post. I’m specifically talking about why I created the characters of Norah and Darcy. And that’s kind of personal.

When I set out to write Sleuth or Dare, my middle grade mystery series, I thought about myself at age 10 and what kind of book I would’ve wanted to read. Growing up, I was a voracious reader and loved anything suspenseful or spooky. But I was also very interested in math and science. To be blunt, I was a nerd. And, despite the many books I read, it was hard for me to find characters that reminded me of myself.

Let's get to know ten-year-old Kim, using my old copy of My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss that my parents kept all these years.
My penmanship wasn't spectacular, but I practiced!

Ah, irony. It's not that I didn't like writing. I didn't like writing in school. They wanted me to write a theme about how I spent my summer vacation, and I wanted to make up stories about monsters and psycho killers. But, yes, I loved math.

I was also, apparently, a liar. I had not traveled 100,000,000,000 miles by plane. But lying came in handy with the whole writing thing. 

So that's who I was. Now that I’m a grown-up and a parent, I’m very sensitive to gender stereotypes. I think everyone has a few THINGS that make their heads EXPLODE. For me, it’s the message that math and science are for boys. Like the “I’m too pretty to do homework” T-shirt debacle or the doll who complained “Math class is tough” when her string was pulled. This is my head when I see these things:
Photo credit: Mr. Masterson

So when creating the heroines of my Sleuth or Dare books, I knew right away who they would be.

My main characters, Norah and Darcy, are nerds and proud of it. They excel in math and science. They have their own interests and hobbies that they unapologetically geek out over. Norah’s biggest aspiration isn’t to become one of the popular girls. It’s to be an astronomer. In her spare time, she stargazes through her telescope and checks her favorite astronomy blog. And Darcy is a tech guru and spy gadget lover. They work together to solve mysteries for their detective agency, Partners in Crime.

When people ask me what message I want kids to get from my books, I like to say that I write only to entertain. But, if I’m honest, I’m also writing for myself. For that ten-year-old nerd who had trouble finding herself in a book. If kids, especially girls, take anything away from Sleuth or Dare, I want it to be that they are awesome. They can accomplish anything they set their minds to. And that nerds…are heroes.
Ten-year-old Kim with her glittery purple sweater, purple corduroys, and purple glasses says HI!

10 comments:

  1. LOVE it! Though I've always been a bit stronger in the writing, reading, etc. fields, I LOVED Chemistry and Astronomy when I took them in high school and college. I think girls should be proud when they excel in ANYTHING!! Nerds unite! :)

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    1. I agree Jessica! There is no reason why girls should not enjoy and pursue whatever their hearts desire. I personally love science AND the arts, and would never apologize for not being able to choose between them. We need more people like Kim that young girls can look up to as role models and not be concerned with dumbing themselves down to fit a certain mold.

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  2. Awesome! Love reading about smart girls. SMART GIRLS RULE!

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    1. I can't wait to meet your smart girls next month, J!

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  3. i would have loved this book when i was younger too. i wasn't really all into science but i loved math and to be honest i still do! sometimes i even miss math homework... i would have loved to have read about how smart nerdy girls are awesome too : ) also the outfit = awesome. purple is the best color ever!!

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    1. Purple is still my favorite color to this day. I buy way too many purple things, but I love it! :D

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    2. Could u plz do a fourth book? The third book is eating away at my brain of Zane and Norah, can u plz plz plz finish it for me😓

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  4. Heck math and science is more and more becoming art and telling tales with more and more woman entering (and leading) said fields. Not only do nerd girls rules, nerd girls really rule.
    P.S.- you do rock the purple and glitter, the Elton John glasses though are the cherry on the cupcake!
    S.E. Toon

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  5. Hi I've read your book series sleuth or dare. I am nine and it is my FAVORITE book series! Please keep writing I love your books they are AWESOME!!!!

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