Author Interview & Review: The Scoop on Stacy McAnulty

by Veronica Vivona
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Stacy McAnulty is a former mechanical engineer whose kids inspired her to become an author. She has written picture books and chapter books and is now venturing into the world of novels! Her middle-grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lighting Girl, is now available wherever books are sold.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy. You can see what we thought about it below:

Review of The Miscalculations of Lighting Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Stacy McAnulty’s novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, is a wonderful story for anyone who needs to get out of their comfort zone. Written for middle-school aged kids, this novel explores what happens when life can’t always be calculated.

The book follows twelve-year-old Lucy, years after she was struck by lightning. While this seems like a bad event, something good actually came out of it: she gained “genius-level” skills in math. And although Lucy would much rather make her way to college before even becoming a teenager, her grandmother has something else in mind.

Lucy has to tackle going to school with kids her age. Not for the traditional learning, but for the experience. She doesn’t understand the idea, but her grandmother knows what the experiences can do for Lucy. And although Lucy would much rather hide herself behind a math book, she leaves the comfort of solidarity to tackle middle school.

This novel deals with multiple aspects including friendship, treating animals right, and savant syndrome. Lucy works on being comfortable in her own skin and being confident in a world that is telling her not to stand out. While this novel is meant for kids, there’s a lot that adults can gain from this type of novel too! Stacy McAnulty’s The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is entertaining, beautifully heartwarming, and an absolute joy to read.

Q&A with Stacy McAnulty

We were lucky enough to chat with Stacy McAnulty herself! We learned about how she can’t ever take a day off, how her kids inspired her to write, and her love for nonfiction work. You can read the entire interview below:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m a children’s book author from Kernersville, North Carolina. I have three kids, three dogs, one husband, and a messy house.

What were you up to before you became an author?

Before becoming a children’s book author, I worked as a mechanical engineer designing first-class airline seats. I went to college for engineering, not writing.

What inspired you to be a writer?

While I wasn’t a big reader growing up, I’ve always been drawn to stories. I could listen to family members tell stories all day long. Then, after I had my children, I began reading kids’ books and fell in love with the genre. I thought, “I can do this! I want to do this!” It just took twelve years to achieve that dream.

You have multiple published books for all different ages. One of those books is called The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl which was recently released!  Can you tell us about this novel and what inspired you to write it?

The Miscalculation of Lightning Girl stars twelve-year-old Lucy, a math savant. After years of homeschooling, she’s ready for college, but her grandmother wants her to try middle school first. It’s a story of friendship and identity. I was inspired to write this story after learning about savant syndrome, which is not just genius-level abilities. A savant will have super-hero like talents in math, art, music, or language, but he or she will also have a trade-off such as autism or OCD. It’s an interesting dynamic.

You have plenty of other books too! Can you tell us a bit about some of those?

Absolutely! I have two picture books coming out in the fall. Sun: One in a Billion is a companion to Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, which published in 2017. These books are nonfiction titles that explore our universe. I never thought I’d write nonfiction, but I love that I get to mix humor and science.

The second fall book is Love, which is part of my definition series with Beautiful and Brave. These are short books packed with big ideas.

Do you have plans to write another novel? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

I’m working on a second novel that we hope to publish in fall 2019. It Ends in April is about a seventh grader who discovers a website written by a Harvard professor, claiming that an asteroid will hit Earth before the end of the school year.

Who inspires you the most to write?

My kids inspire me. They’re my first readers and fairly harsh critics.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How do you like to create?

I wish I had a good answer for this question, but all I can say is “it depends.” Ideally, I like to write when the kids are at school, and the house is quiet. But I really work whenever, especially when I have a deadline. For a novel, I’ve both outlined and flown by the seat of my pants. For picture books, I’ve written a manuscript in one sitting and worked on others for months. My only ‘must’ is that I like to write every day while I’m in the middle of a longer project. Even if it’s only one hundred words, I can’t take a day off because the idea may lose traction.

Is there a fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?

I don’t know how to type (or spell).

Is there another fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them? (I have a hunch you’re the type of person to have multiple fun facts about herself…)

I play Plants vs. Zombies 2 every night before reading and then going to sleep.

If you were stranded on the moon (because islands are cliché…) what books would you bring with you to read and why?

I’d bring a blank journal (would that count???) because ideas slip from my brain too easily and I need to write down everything. Then I’d probably bring nonfiction titles. I’m more likely to reread nonfiction than a novel. Maybe books by Mary Roach and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

What do you want kids to gain the most from your novels?

I want them to be entertained and maybe laugh or cry or some kind of strong emotional response.

What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?

It’s a slow and long road. At least it was for me! I joke that I could have become a doctor or a lawyer (maybe both) in the time it took me to become a published author. You’ll probably hear from others write and revise, Revise, REVISE! Which is true, but don’t forget the write part. Even for established authors, not everything will sell, so you need to revise to a point and then move on to the next project. I would not recommend sinking five years into one novel. I think you’d learn more and become a better writer if you wrote and revised three novels in five years–and perhaps increase your chances of getting published too. Don’t spend one year on a picture book, write three (or more!). Just my opinion. I’m certain you could easily find ten authors who’d disagree with me.

Your career seems boundless. Where do you see yourself going from here?

I hope to continue writing picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade novels. I’d also like to do some longer nonfiction for older kids and try to publish a YA novel.

Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?

Floss daily and be nice to your mom.

To learn more about Stacy McAnulty, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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