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
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!