Ask the Author: Michelle Houts
What would you like readers to know about you?
Writing is my third career. My road to writing began as a teacher of children with special needs, then I went back to grad school and became a speech-language pathologist, and then I started writing. I waited ten years and until my tenth book was under contract to quit my day job and write full-time.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
I’ll talk today about Lucy’s Lab, my STEM-based chapter book series. These are not my newest books, but they have been very well-received by young, adventuresome readers. The three books in the Lucy’s Lab series are about a science-minded second-grader named Lucy. She and her classmates discover all kinds of science-filled fun in the classroom and all around. There are science themes to each book (Book 1:habitats, Book 2: states of matter, Book 3: fossils), but mostly there’s an exciting story centered around a very inquisitive second-grader and her very curious classmates.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
When I worked with early elementary schoolers, I noticed that students developed attitudes about STEM topics at an early age. Girls, especially, were quick to decide that math was “hard” and science was “for boys.” I knew I wanted to write a series in which a female main character embraced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Because I had already written several books for middle-grade readers (grades 3 -8), I initially thought that this would be the target age range for my STEM series. But after talking with second graders, I realized that the books really needed to be for a younger audience in order to reach learners before they decided that STEM topics were too challenging. (Spoiler: they’re not!) So, Lucy’s Lab was born as a STEM-based chapter book series for grades 1 – 3.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I love all the humor in these books. Lucy has a great sense of humor and it was fun to write the many scenes in which misunderstandings caused hilarious mishaps to occur.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Growing up, I read mostly fiction, but I loved biographies. I also loved to write. It wasn’t until I was reading middle-grade novels aloud with my children, though, that I gave serious consideration to becoming an author. I love stories — hearing them, telling them, sharing them.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
READ. Read books in the genre you think you most want to write, but also read widely. If you didn’t read any sci-fi or historical fiction or poetry or fantasy while growing up, read some award-winning titles now. Even if you don’t believe you’ll ever write in those genres, reading as a study of how others write will make you a better writer.
Michelle’s books can be found online and in stores via chain and independent booksellers. Michelle can be found at www.michellehouts.com where you’ll also read about her #52LetterChallenge and The Mark Boney Promise. Connect with her on social media by searching @mhoutswrites on Twitter and Instagram. She’s on Facebook as Michelle Houts.