Author Spotlight: Jackson Pearce talks Ellie, Engineer: The Next Level
I'm so happy to feature Jackson Pearce on the blog today! I first discovered Jackson's work back in 2010 when I picked up a copy of Sisters Red (her YA Little Red Riding Hood re-telling) and I've been a fan ever since!
As an author for young adult and middle grade readers, Jackson's latest release is Ellie, Engineer: The Next Level, which came out on November 6th from Bloomsbury Children's Books. Check out the synopsis below!
"Look out, Junie B. Jones! Ellie the engineer is thinking, making, creating, and showing enthusiasm and brilliance with her creations!" - School Library Connection
After Ellie's first elevator build goes terribly wrong, her parents decide her "punishment" is to assist an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Curran, around the house. Ellie and her friends Kit and Toby are really only supposed to help with little things, but Ellie can't turn down the opportunity to use her engineering skills here and there where she sees a need--because that's what engineers do! It's no fun, though, when Mrs. Curran always gives Toby the credit for all the ingenious projects, and acts like Kit and Ellie were just helping him. . . . Can Ellie come up with another great build to elevate Mrs. Curran's ideas about this girl engineer?
With Ellie's designs and sketches throughout, and her fun guide to simple machines in the back, the continuation of this delightful series will leave young readers laughing and inspired to create..
And now, here's my chat with Jackson!
Hi, Jackson! Welcome and congrats on Ellie, Engineer: The Next Level. Can you share a little about the story and what inspired it?
The Ellie, Engineer series is about a girl named Ellie who loves a lot of the things I love—sparkles, and fluffy skirts, and the color pink, and dance class, and power tools, and engineering, and building stuff! I wanted to write this story because I felt like there weren’t a lot of books out there with a girl who loved all of these things together.
What do you love most about Ellie?
I love that Ellie isn’t afraid of failing. She knows that sometimes, you have to learn by doing—and that means that sometimes, your first try won’t work. That’s okay, because you can always try it again.
Children see the world through a different lens than adults. What are your tips for writing an authentic middle grade POV?
Sometimes I think adults try a little too hard, if that makes sense, and the result is a voice that sounds like an adult pretending to be a kid. I think the best way to write from a middle grade lens is to just really feel the character. Get into his or her head, and just start writing. You can finesse the story and characters later, but for that initial round I think nailing the voice is the most important thing.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
I love school visits, and the most rewarding ones are those where I see lots of different types of kids asking questions—girls, boys, nonbinary children, people of color, those with disabilities, avid readers, reluctant readers…I love seeing a group of kids find common ground in a story, so much so that they are eager to ask questions about it.
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
I think it’s always hard to start something, because the task is so daunting at first. Usually, once I’ve gotten started I don’t have too difficult of a time finishing…but starting can be tough.
What are you reading, watching, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
I just finished reading Laini Taylor’s MUSE OF NIGHTMARES, and absolutely adore that series. I also binged The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and wondered where that show had been all my life!
And finally, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far in your publishing career?
To diversify. I write a lot of different types of books, and also have a lot of additional writing related “side hustles.” The traditional publishing industry moves very slowly, and so it’s extremely difficult to rely on it to make a living simply because paychecks, contracts, and sales are often delayed by months or years. Being stressed about money isn’t conducive to being creative, so having other sources of revenue allows you to stress less and write more.
Many thanks go out to Jackson for taking the time to tell us more about her writing process and ELLIE, ENGINEER: THE NEXT LEVEL. Be to sure to add this STEM-powered story to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
And, as always,