Today we travel to Adelaide, Australia and chat with Jordan Bell about how being a psychologist, music, crowdfunding, walking in nature, Leonard Cohen, the art of tattooing, and Battle of the Planets come together as part of Jordan’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a psychologist by training, with a lifelong love of science, and I live in Adelaide, Australia. I love reading, music and walking in nature. When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to make sure she had lots of books which inspired her to love science as much as I do. So as a nerdy mama I had no option but to write one! Aimed at kids 7-11 years, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution explains the basics of this key scientific concept in a fun and engaging way.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I’ve loved writing my whole life. As a child I thought being a writer would be an amazing future career, and I used to spend a lot of time writing and illustrating little books, which I’d bind up with electrical tape. As a teenager, poetry really captured me, and I was in a small poetry circle with two other poets for several years. It wasn’t until I finished my PhD a few years ago (106,000 words!) that I really knew I could write a book. And then when I got the inspiration to write this book, I knew I had to put it out into the world. One wildly successful crowdfund later (we raised 210% of our original goal!) and it seemed like the rest of the world also agreed with me!
What does your ideal writing space look like?
My favourite place to write is in a cafe around the corner from my house – I take my laptop in and they bring me endless cups of tea while I’m tapping away. It’s a gorgeous calm space with delicious food and great local arts and crafts for sale. (Update – due to the new COVID-19 social distancing/shutdown rules, I can’t make use of this great venue at the moment! So I am mostly writing from my dining room table these days – there’s not as much tea-on-demand, but I can work in my pyjamas, so swings and roundabouts!)
What are you currently reading?
I am re-reading the Philip Pullman “His Dark Materials” trilogy as a preparation for reading the new book he’s released, The Secret Commonwealth. I forgot how much I loved it when I read it 10 years ago – it’s beautifully written. I have high hopes for the new adventure!
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
I love singing and once put on a show of Leonard Cohen songs in my hometown.
My favourite genre to read is science fiction – it comes from my love of science and my general sense of wonder about the world.
Although I am very interested in the art of tattooing, I only have one teeny tiny tattoo myself. If I was going to get something else tattooed on me, it would be the Auryn from The Neverending Story, which was my favourite book as a child.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I am the Dean at a residential college for university students, so I support students through their academic and personal challenges, to ensure they can continue to succeed at in their studies. I love my job! It’s always interesting and I really like helping people, so I get to do that a lot.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
That I’m quite persistent, and that I get more satisfaction from “having written” than from the writing itself. And that I’m quite good at explaining things to kids – which I guess is a legacy of my time as a children’s tutor. I was also really surprised at how much fun it was to work with an illustrator – Gabriel Cunnett (https://gabrielcunnettillustration.com/) did all the illustrations for the book, and he seemed to have the magical ability to reach into my brain, see what I wanted to characters to look like, and call them into existence on the page.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
I really enjoy the “project” of book creation. The learning curve for writing and then self-publishing my first book was virtually straight up – but apparently that’s a space I thrive in, since I love to learn.
What do you miss about being a kid?
Oh gosh, not paying bills! And the chance to spend so much time reading, and the wonder of learning about human biology for the first time.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
Without question, it would be Battle of the Planets (the English-dubbed version of Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) – I used to act out invented scenes from this with my cousins all the time. As a kid I wanted to be Princess, but today I’d probably want to be Mark, the team leader.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I re-watched The Princess Bride – one of my own childhood favourites – with my daughter last weekend. It’s amazing how well it holds up as a film! It’s got humour, adventure, romance and a happy ending. And Cary Elwes is fantastically handsome, so there’s also that. I read the book it was based on a few years ago and honestly it’s probably even better than the movie. So I wanted to share that story with my daughter.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a follow-up to my first book, called Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. In a similar way to the Guide to Evolution, it explains and unpacks all the science of Climate Change, from chemistry, to physics, to biology and geology, in a science adventure that is fun to read. The research load has been intense, but I’m really enjoying it!
Tell us about your most recent book.
My first book, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, gives kids a fun and fascinating understanding of the key concepts underlying the theory of evolution, using real science. Perfect for parents who want to inspire a love of science in children aged 7-11yrs, start a child’s science education early, or who want female role models in science for their kids.
Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book and how to pronounce them.
It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jordan. This and your upcoming book sound like great fun to read. Wishing you much success! – Camilla
Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time. Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s. What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working? Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them.
Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents: Do you know what happened after the dinosaurs died out, but before humans existed? Could you explain Darwin’s theory of evolution to your child? Parents, learn along with your kids as we explore the key contributors to evolution: inheritance, variation and selection. Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. Story-based learning helps everyone remember scientific concepts. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book, and how to pronounce them. So give a gift of knowledge to your children and set them up for a lifetime of STEM success!
Where to buy Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution:
Connect with Jordan:
Follow me on Facebook for more information: www.facebook.com/AuntJodiesGuides
I’m on Twitter at @AuntJodiesGuide
And my website is www.auntjodiesguide.com
Illustrated by Gabriel Cunnett:
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