Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
by Laurie Wallmark (Author) and April Chu (Illustrator)

I’ve been saving this interview with one of my former students, Laurie Wallmark, for International Women’s Day.


Q. When did you start writing?
A. My earliest writing memory is from first grade. The older kids were complaining that they had to write a hundred-word composition. This didn’t seem like a big deal to me, so I picked up my pencil and wrote: The. Cat. Dog. Mom. Dad. Me. Go. Stop. And. But.

You get the idea. Ninety words later, I had my first piece of writing that hadn’t been a school assignment.

As far as writing for children, that came much later. Back in 2001, I had an idea for a middle-grade novel. When it didn’t sell, I figured I wasn’t a writer, and moved on to other interests. After all, I had degrees in biochemistry and information systems, not creative writing or literature.

Then in about 2008, I had an idea for another middle-grade novel. This is when I became serious about writing for children. In addition to writing, I set about studying my craft. I went to writing conferences and took workshops. In January 2016, I graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Q. Describe your writing process.
A. There are several steps in my writing process. First, of course, I need to come up with a general idea for the story. This might be a character, a scene, or sometimes even just a title. I let this idea roll around in my mind for quite a while. Before long, related ideas glom onto the original one, while others fall by the wayside. Lying in bed at night is the perfect location for doing this step.

I’m ready to move on. I take all these characters and scenes and settings and plots in my head and try to make them fit together into a story. I’m definitely an outliner, not a pantser. I even outline my picture books.

Now it’s time to write. And revise. And revise. And re-outline. And revise. I have the work critiqued, and I revise. This step repeats over and over again.

When I think the manuscript is as good as I can make it, I put it away for a bit and work on something else. This allows me to return to it with fresh eyes and, you guessed it, revise.

Q. Tell us about your latest book.
A. Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine is a picture-book biography of the world’s first computer programmer. Ada was born two hundred years ago, long before the invention of the modern electronic computer. At a time when girls and women had few options outside the home, Ada followed her dreams and studied mathematics.

See the book trailer.

A century before the first digital computer was invented, Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first computer program!

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.

Thanks for visiting the blog, Laurie! Congratulations on your new book!

  • Booklist Top Ten Books in Science and Health
  • Booklist Editor’s Choice: Books for Youth 2015
  • National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Book
  • California Reading Association Eureka Gold Medal Winner
  • Cook Prize Finalist
  • 2016 Amelia Bloomer List
  • Assoc.of Children’s Librarians of Northern California Outstanding Book
  • Junior Library Guild Selection

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