All Member Spotlights
Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Alison Pearce Stevens

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I’m a former scientist and educator who turned to writing when my husband moved our family overseas. For me, writing is a way to share our incredible planet with the world’s most curious people: kids. Writing is an important medium, because it allows the imagination to take flight. When we read, the parts of our brain that process sensory input come to life, putting us in that scene. Maybe you haven’t stood in the eye of a hurricane, but writing can put you there–in the eerie stillness, trees dripping from the onslaught of rain that just passed, wildlife timidly reappearing from where they had been hiding. Marveling at the sunlight poking through the clouds as you brace yourself for the eyewall yet to come. You don’t engage all the senses in the same way when watching videos, for example. I write to inspire curiosity in the world around us, so kids (and the adults in their lives) don’t lose their sense of wonder.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? Getting outside into a natural area. That might be my yard, which is packed with pollinator gardens, or it might be a park. Just sitting and staring at the natural space works wonders. Watching snow, rain, or the fluff drifting from cottonwood trees or going for a walk in a park gets me out of my hyper-focused (and very stuck) thinking and allows problem-solving to happen. There is actually solid brain research supporting this–getting outside and exercising work to engage the brain networks associated with creativity.

What is your favorite time to write? I am most productive first thing in the morning. By about 2 p.m. I have to transition away from writing and focus on other tasks. Afternoon’s a great time to do research, answer emails, work on social media, etc.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Write what you WANT to know (not what you know). It requires a ton of research, but there is so much to learn about other people and places, and writing is an opportunity to soak up new information and turn it into something magical.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I love the writing community, the enthusiasm behind books for children, in particular. The kidlit community is so positive and so supportive; it’s a model for how we should all interact with each other, and I’m delighted to be part of it.

Alison Pearce Stevens’s Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds, illustrated by Matt Huynh is out now with Henry Holt and Co.