Guest Post: Nicole Valentine of steaMG—The Middle Grade Sci-Fi Authors Alliance

Today, I’ve turned over the reins of the blog to my good friend, Nicole Valentine, whose middle grade novel, A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity, will be published by Carolrhoda Books/Lerner this October (but is available for preorder now). Nicole is here to talk about her latest venture.

A big thank you, L. Marie. for giving me the opportunity to answer two questions here on your blog. She asked me, “What is steaMG and why did you create it?”

SteaMG.org is a collective of authors who want to celebrate sci-fi and science-inspired fiction for middle grade readers. Currently, there are fifteen of us. Our member authors contribute to the blog and we have special guest posts too. Our aim is to add new member authors twice a year, while always looking for interesting guests. Every member has a middle grade book either published or on contract that can be described as sci-fi, spec, or science-inspired fantasy or fiction. We write about time travel, parallel universes, strange new worlds, outer space, and nature doing weird and wonderful things—all subjects that inspire wonder and awe.

As to why I made this collective, when I first had the idea, I wanted an online space where fellow authors could talk about their love of the genre, be an online source of information for librarians, teachers and readers—and also for each other. I envisioned a discussion board where fellow middle grade sci-fi authors could talk and schedule events with each other and share ideas. My biggest worry was no one else out there would join me! I decided the only way to see if it would work was to start it—an “if you build it, they will come” approach. I posted on several discussion boards and talked to other friends in the industry and that is how I found the initial fifteen. I give them a lot of credit for signing on to something that did not yet exist. It’s a bit like agreeing to take a voyage before the ship is built.

My initial blog post at steaMG.org, “The Science of Awe,” talks about why the emotion of awe is so important and why I think it’s important that we foster it in children at an early age. I credit sci-fi books with saving me as a kid. I read whatever I could find about time travel after losing my father to a sudden heart attack. To adults, trying to learn how to time travel sounds like an illogical solution to grief, though in many ways, it worked! Those books taught me hope. They gave me something to chase after—the feeling of wonder and awe. They gave me tools to cope.

That’s just my own personal story about how I relate to the genre, but there are so many ways it works well in children’s books. It’s full of possibility in creating empathy, introducing children to the possibility of worlds and people beyond their own, and seeing their intrinsic value. It helps children step outside of their viewpoint and witness their own world as an objective visitor. You don’t need to travel through outer space to do that either! Fellow steaMG author Caroline Carlson’s novel, The Door at the End of the World [debuting this April] does this really well with a fun, sly wink. I hope she’ll talk a bit more about that in her upcoming post. I’m really looking forward to seeing all my fellow steaMG members talk about what inspires them and why they write what they do.

    

As to what you can expect in the coming year, we will keep you up to date on middle grade books coming out in the genre. We have thought-provoking guest posts lined up in the next few months: one takes a deep dive into middle grade sci-fi from an academic viewpoint, another will talk about the genre in short story form for middle grade. There will be brilliant insights on the craft of writing from member authors, and an interview with the artist whose sci-fi art graces a fair portion of our site and the very strange coincidence that brought him to us.

And that’s all just the beginning. It’s a big universe and there’s a lot to explore. We are accepting guest contributors and traditionally published authors who would like to join are welcome to head over to steaMG and say hello.

Nicole Valentine has an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity is her debut novel. She teaches writing at the Highlights Foundation. Previously, Nicole was a Chief Technology Officer at Sally Ride’s Space.com, Figment.com, and an early member of the web team at CNN.com. Nicole resides outside of Philadelphia with her family, two large dogs named Merlin and Arthur, and two small cats named Pickwick and Tink.

L. Marie here. I hope to have Nicole back at a later date for the cover reveal of her novel. And speaking of novels, Melanie Crowder, whose novel, The Lighthouse between the Worlds, was featured in the Christmas giveaway (see this post), also is a steaMG author.

 

SteaMG Logo by Jim Hill. Nicole Valentine author photo by Nina Pomeroy Photography. Space image from graphicsbeam.com. Caroline Carlson author photo by Amy Rose Capetta. Infinity clock image from ufo-spain.com.

29 thoughts on “Guest Post: Nicole Valentine of steaMG—The Middle Grade Sci-Fi Authors Alliance

  1. How great that so many authors are writing sci-fi and spec fiction for this age group! As a kid in the long-ago, I don’t remember there being much sci-fi for kids – fantasy, yes, but not science-based stuff. I’m pretty certain if I’d read sci-fi back at that age I’d have been more inspired by actual science lessons, which always seemed to have no relation to either the real world or my fictional alter-life. Hopefully, this group of authors will be inspiring a few scientists of the future… 😀

    • I know what you mean, FF. When I was a kid, there were plenty of sci-fi books around the house, because my dad was into sci-fi. But none of those were for kids. The first science fiction book I read that was actually for children was A Wrinkle in Time. I quickly blew through that series.

    • Luckily there’s a lot more than there were say ten or twenty years ago. We would like to see more and from all kinds of diverse backgrounds. We also want to celebrate the ones we do have and make sure they’re easy to find and recommend.

  2. It’s so great that you’re doing this to spread the word about all your books. And it offers something beyond the debut groups in that it’s focused and you’re benefiting from the wisdom of authors at all stages of their career. I’d love to do this for Historical YA (HistorYA?) if my new book sells.

    • I am very glad to have Nicole on the blog, Laura! This post brought back memories of when I was a kid, reading science fiction novels. 😄 I love the goal of teaching kids empathy.

  3. I’m so happy you are doing this! And I can’t wait to read all these books!! I how you think! The science of awe–indeed!

  4. So happy to meet you, Nicole, and thank you, L. Marie, for hosting Nicole on your blog . Nicole, I appreciate these lines in particular: “To adults, trying to learn how to time travel sounds like an illogical solution to grief, though in many ways, it worked! Those books taught me hope.” First, you’re reminding us how reading can help children (and adults) to cope with difficult experiences. Second, I love how the idea of time travel gave you hope. I wasn’t interested in science fiction when I was a kid, but as an adult, I feel drawn to it, in large part because it gives me a sense of hope for the future. Wishing you the best with your novel and with steaMG!

  5. When that which saves you as a child becomes that which you can write and share with kids now, that is cool. Middle school books were nowhere this interesting when I was a kid, but I am pleased to know that they are now.

    • I know what you mean, Ally. The focus was on books for the very young or for adults. Even the books for teens seemed written for adults. When I became an adult, books became more specialized for certain ages.

  6. Well, I’m older than the bricks in most schools, always an avid reader, I do not recall sci-fi books as a young adult. Actually, books weren’t even classified as YA back then – a development that I think is great now! Like others, A Wrinkle in Time was one my daughters enjoyed – and I read with them.

    How wonderful that you are doing this, Nicole -and, as always, a big thanks to L. Marie.

    • I know what you mean, Penny, since I’m as old as dirt. Books had fewer age classifications. A Wrinkle and Time and other books in that series caught my attention back then.

  7. SteaMG.org is a team of authors who make the young people travel in the dimensions space / time . Sometimes, what is said makes me think of God ( not any limits of space nor time ). BTW I remember in the years 40’s reading Flash Gordon which was a cartoon of both ScI Fi and romance. I read this when I Was 9 / 11 years old.
    Thanks Linda to introduce Nicole
    Love ❤
    Michel

    • I am glad to do so, Michel. I never saw Flash Gordon, but my parents talked about it. It undoubtedly inspired George Lucas to develop Star Wars!

      Love to you and Janine. Peace be with you. ❤️🕊️

      • I knew Flash Gordon that was a story among others in a child ‘ s newspaper . I remember my mother in the years 40 was enthusiast with that . Later in the years 80 I bought in a book shop in Paris a thick book with complete Flash Gordon’s story. My children stoled it to me ! 🙂 🙂

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