That’s me on the left, trying to look professional. I’m a novelist, science journalist, and speaker. As a magazine writer, I’ve covered artificial intelligence, robots, physics and biology. I’ve overcome a tendency to faint and watched brain surgery up close, sat behind the wheel of a flying car, hiked and surfed in Ireland.
But I really fell into writing to make stuff up. When I was little I’d write about dinosaurs with flatulence problems and sharks attacking alien ships. As I grew older, and expanded my library beyond adventure books and to include young-people-sitting-and-thinking books, my stories became a little less exciting. That carried over into my first novel, The Wages of Genius, which is all about a single day in the life of an office worker. It’s kind of funny, though, since he thinks he’s the reincarnation of Albert Einstein. I won’t give away the ending.
A few years later, prompted by requests from my nieces and nephews, I decided to try writing a more adventurous novel. The result, Fish (Scholastic Press), is filled with pirates, puzzles, and grand journeys. Fish was a Scholastic Book Fair bestseller, and it has received numerous awards and nominations, including the Carol Otis Hurst prize for the best children’s writing in New England. The last time I checked, the book was on to its seventh printing.
I’d like to write more Fish novels, but another story grabbed me next instead, and I spent a few years working on Dangerous Waters, a novel involving Titanic passenger Harry Widener, a conflicted twelve-year-old stowaway named Patrick Waters, and an immensely valuable and mysterious book. The novel was a Scholastic Book Clubs bestseller and earned some of those state award nominations as well.
A few of the many science and technology pieces I’ve written over the years worked their way into my 2009 book, The Truth About Santa: Wormholes, Robots, and What Really Happens on Christmas Eve (Bloomsbury). On the surface it’s about how Santa completes such seemingly impossible tasks. But the real heart of the book is the power of science and technology. The School Library Journal called it “delightfully whimsical” and the USA Today picked it as one of its top five holiday books for geeks.
The next big project is Jack and the Geniuses, a middle grade series I’m writing with Bill Nye the Science Guy. We’re having a great time developing these books together, and I’m excited for the first one to come out in April.
Is this really a bio? Or should I have written more about my awkwardly large head, my experience with braces, my failed hopes to be an Olympic breastroker? Then there was the brief attempt at becoming a banker, the year in Ireland as a sodden, gray-faced paralegal, and the two-year romance with the Pacific Ocean. Love, marriage, kids, suburbia, more books and magazine articles, cartwheels, coffee, a return to the pool, more kids, a shift from steak to salad, slowly graying hair, more coffee, moving to an island, getting a dog, trying to remind myself I have a website that should be cared for, them promptly forgetting. Somehow all that mixes up into me.