Jackson Pearce is the author of Ellie, Engineer, a new novel for kids. Her other books include The Inside Job and Pip Bartlett's Guide to Sea Monsters. She lives in Atlanta.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Ellie, Engineer, and for your main character, Ellie?
A: Ellie is very much based on me as a child (and, honestly, on me at present). Growing up, I loved to make and build things.
My dad is an engineer, and he not only had a very “can do” attitude about making, building, and creating, but also a great attitude about failure—if something you made didn’t work out, that’s okay! Learn from the experience and give it another shot. Ellie very much shares this outlook.
Q: You've said, "While I think we've come a long way in encouraging girls' interest in STEM fields, sometimes it still feels like there's a mindset of 'it's okay for girls to like boy things'--as if STEM fields are inherently masculine." What message do you hope readers take away from Ellie, Engineer?
A: I hope that readers—and I do hope those readers are both little boys and little girls—finish Ellie with the idea that there’s no such thing as “boy stuff” or “girl stuff”. You can like whatever it is you like, and you don’t need to apologize for it!
Q: Do you usually know how your novels will end before you start writing them, or do you make many changes along the way?
A: I usually know how I want readers to feel at the end of my novels, but I rarely know the exact way they’ll end. I almost always have a loose outline when I write, because that keeps me moving forward.
Q: Who are some of your favorite writers?
A: Whew, that’s a tough question! I’ve just finished reading Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, a YA that I love. I also love Natalie Lloyd’s books (like Snicker of Magic), and Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels.
Q: You have another Ellie book coming out later this year--will there be still more? What are you working on now?
A: There will be two Ellie digital short stories in May and August! Right now I’m working on another middle grade story about ghosts…but I can’t say much more about it.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb