RapunzelReads: Who are your favorite characters in The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, and why?
Stacy McAnulty: Lucy has to be a favorite character because we know her best. The book is in her perspective. We see and feel everything through her. She makes the story work. (As a dog person, I also love Pi.)
RR: I love both math and reading, but it isn’t a combination I come across in many books. I loved how The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl incorporated both! What inspired you to write that kind of book?
SM: I’m a former mechanical engineer, so in college, I took a lot of math classes (and no Language Arts classes for a grade). When my children ask for help with homework, I always hope it’s math homework they’re struggling with. I enjoy doing math and I’m good at it (not at Lucy’s level, but still good). It made sense for me to write about a character who also loves math. And you’re right, we don’t see it a lot of
RR: What was your inspiration for The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl?
SM: I was watching television and stumbled across the story of a real-life savant. Then I started reading these true stories about math geniuses, and I was blown away. First, I considered what it would be like if I was a math savant. Would I improve the world in some way? But then, as a mom and author of books for young readers, I thought, what would that be like for a kid? What would it be like for a kid to be smarter than adults (on a certain level)? I wanted to explore that idea.
RR: What is your favorite part of being an author?
SM: I love research and coming up with new ideas. I love meeting passionate readers. Being an author isn’t always easy, but I think it’s the greatest job.
RR: Did you always want to be an author, or did you like math more when you were a kid?
SM: When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to go to space. I always enjoyed writing—especially fiction—but I wasn’t considered good at it. My spelling and grammar were awful (and still are). When I got to high school, I didn’t dream of space any longer. (The US space program wasn’t very active at that time—post Challenger explosion.) I changed my focus to engineering, though I still enjoyed writing. I was good at math and was encouraged to pursue the STEM fields. Looking back, I wish someone had told me, “You can do both!” You can passionate about math and science and, at the same time, love art and writing. No need to pick a favorite.