We announced last week that Jennifer Ellis’ A Pair of Docks is the Kids Corner Book of The Week – Now Just $2.99!
We have a special treat for our readers today! After reading A Pair of Docks, fifth grade student, Taylor G., has asked our Kids Corner Book of The Week author, Jennifer Ellis, a few questions for this exclusive interview!
KIDS CORNER’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:
Taylor: What or who inspired you to become a author?
Jennifer Ellis: I read a lot as a kid, and loved all sorts of books including L. Frank Baum’s Oz books and Enid Blyton’s adventure books. But C. S. Lewis was probably one of my biggest inspirations to become an author. I loved the Narnia series so much and was devastated when I finished the final book. I wanted be able to create the same kind of magic for kids by writing a series that allows readers to enter a different world and makes them want to stay there.
Taylor: What gave you the idea to write A Pair Of Docks?
Jennifer Ellis: I somehow just saw each of the three futures that Abbey, Caleb and Simon went to – the spaceship causeway, the bubble city and the forest and I knew which future belonged to each of them. I also knew all the characters had to end up in Caleb’s future in the end, and that Abbey would have to think that Caleb’s life was in danger. The imagery of some of the critical scenes just arrived in my head fully formed. I also saw Mantis, Dr. Ford and Mark. Then I had to construct a story around the futures, the scenes and the characters. I wanted each of the three main characters to have different strengths, which would affect where they ended up in the future, and that the series will ultimately relate to the value of each of those strengths, and the value in people having diverse strengths. But my images for their futures all seemed so different that I had to explore the idea of parallel universes. The idea of incorporating science, paradox and the pair of docks came later. Caleb’s future also changed a lot to fit the story as did Dr. Ford as a character, but Abbey and Simon’s futures are essentially unchanged from those original images I had.
Taylor: Which character do you feel like you connect to the most?
Jennifer Ellis: I identify a lot with Abbey, because I love science and the scientific method, and of course because she is a girl. But I also feel a strong link with Simon and his introversion, fascination with computer programming, and tendency towards sarcasm. Simon also struggles with the responsibility of being the oldest and what that means in terms of being a leader, especially when they get into dangerous situations, since Caleb is the more natural leader. I can identify with that kind of struggle. I love them all, of course, but I think I probably have the greatest connection to Simon.
Taylor: How did you come up with the company slogan, ‘you won’t even know we’re here’?
Jennifer Ellis: I needed kind of a play on words. Something that Simon could accidentally say that would make sense and could also be a company slogan. I also wanted something that reflected his potential future thinking with regard to how computers should be. I find it funny how we can waste a lot of time trying to get our technology to do something simple that we could have done by hand way faster (computer programmers are notorious for this because they know that they can eventually get the computer to do what they want so they refuse to do the quicker band-aid fixes that the rest of us do). So, I thought the most desirable computers of the future will be ones that we never have to battle with to get them to do what we want – they will just do their jobs, and we won’t even know they are there.
Taylor: How did you come up with the character Mark?
Jennifer Ellis: Mark also arrived in my head kind of fully formed in terms of his general appearance, love of maps and the fact that he has Asperger syndrome. I am a geographer, so I love maps and atlases, and I have to confess I study squiggles on ceilings and floors and try to match them to shapes and things, just like many of us try to pick shapes out of clouds. I thought it would be interesting to have a character who thought in map form, and luckily it happened to work really well for the plot too. I also loved the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which was about a boy with Asperger syndrome, and I strongly identified with the main character and the way he looked at the world. I wanted to develop a character who looked at the world in a similarly unique way.
Taylor: Was it hard to find out all of the science information that you used in the books?
Jennifer Ellis: I had planned to major in physics when I first went to university, so I knew some of the basic physics and chemistry information already. I checked it of course, but it is easier to think of science ideas to insert if your brain already has a context for things like momentum and the periodic table. So because I had some basic knowledge, I think I came up with more ideas, and when I had ideas that I needed to develop further, it was easier to look them up because I knew vaguely what search terms to use. I did learn some new things though, and got lucky on some of the interesting connections, such as Aluminum Ice, and I certainly hope I got it all right.
Taylor: What gave you the idea to do a bubble city?
Jennifer Ellis: I just had the image of a desert and the bubble in my head for Abbey’s future. I wish I knew where it came from. My dreams perhaps. But because I do climate change research and spend time thinking about our atmosphere, I was able to use that to take the image further and say, why would people be living in a bubble city, what would the bubble be made out of and what would that have to do with Abbey? I love that part of writing – sketching out the ‘puzzle pieces’ and then making them fit together and work in the story.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk with you about A Pair of Docks. Great questions Taylor!
A very special thank you to Taylor & author Jennifer Ellis! Tell us what *your* favorite part isof A Pair of Docks by dropping a line in our response section or by checking out the author’s website at: http://jenniferellis.ca/.