Registration is open for the 2022 Connecticut Book Awards!
When: October 23, 2022 | 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Where: Hartford Public Library
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COVID is still with us, although easing off a little, thank goodness. Did you have a favorite comfort genre to turn to when things were looking bleak? Something that lifted you away and to a different place for a while?
I read a lot of history the first year of the pandemic. I wouldn’t call it a favorite genre or a comfort genre, but it did transport me back in time. I read about the history of submarine periscopes for an article published online in a Photonics magazine for adults. Also, I read about William Gillette and Gillette Castle and wrote a short fictional story. That was a lot of fun.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get a lot of inspiration from nature. Early in the morning, I’ll sit outside and write to the sound of songbirds. When I go walking or kayaking, I use all my senses. I’ll notice the smell of honeysuckle, wild grapes, and pine needles. I’ll hear frogs splashing, wood frogs hushing, and acorns plunking. I’ll notice reflections in the water, tracks in the mud, and holes in a tree trunk. When I’m brainstorming ideas for a project, I make mind maps.
The inspiration for Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals came from research for MUSE, a science magazine for kids. The theme of the issue was “Thinking Bots.” While I was searching for a topic to write about I made a long list of robots. I guess you could call that brainstorming for the article. As I was reviewing the list, I noticed there were a lot of animal robots. I thought they might make a fascinating book.
Who made reading important to you?
My teachers in the South Windsor school system made reading important. From them, I realized knowledge and understanding came from books. Also, my grandfather unwittingly contributed. I used to spend hours poring over an old set of encyclopedias he’d given my mother. I’d sit on the floor in front of the bookcase, pull out a volume, and flip through it searching for one subject and inevitably get engrossed by others. The glossy photographs caught my attention and ultimately broadened my world.
Who has been the biggest influence on your work?
I learned so much from Andy Boyles, an editor at Highlights for Children magazine. He encouraged me despite my making every mistake in the book. When I plunged headfirst into the writing world, I was more proficient at languages like COBOL, Fortran, and assembly language.
What was your favorite subject in school? Why?
I loved art, especially drawing nature with a pencil. I’d study the little things, like the contours of rocks, the swirls on a seashell, and the texture of tree bark. While sketching, I’d get lost in time and place. I learned to look at the details. Drawing still brings me great joy when I make time for it.
What message would you like to send to young readers?
Reading is a basic skill that we all need in life. It’s also a portal to other worlds, a window to other cultures, and a gateway to learning and understanding. By reading, we can learn new skills, take on new challenges, and explore new ideas. Reading opens eyes and doors.
Linda Zajac is an award-winning science writer. She crafts stories about cutting-edge science, technology, and biotechnology and how they’re used to save wildlife, protect the environment, and advance medicine. She lives in Connecticut.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a . . . robo-hummingbird? Meet robots engineered using biomimicry that are built to move like animals. These robots are changing the way we live today and shaping the way we’ll live in the future. On spreads pairing photos of robots with the animals they mimic, you’ll discover robots that race through water like fish, run like cheetahs, jump like a kangaroo, swarm through the sky like honeybees, and more!