Crazy Grandma Genius Baby & Me: Bonus Content
I’m a lot like Theo: caught in between my precocious, inventive, talkative ‘Genius Baby,’ Ariadne (“Ari” for short), and my mom (her grandma) who is usually egging her on. Phrases like “It’s perfectly safe. I think…” and “But it’s for science!” are common in our house.
I’m also a lot like Theo’s mom, Zee (that’s short for Zenobia), because she loves dreaming up new, weird, creative food combinations. I love experimenting with new food recipes - cooking is a lot like science! Sometimes the results of these experiments are delicious. Sometimes they are not!! The recipe for Lemon Muffins and the Chocolate Eclair Bombs are ones I made up.
I love books in which the main character has to simultaneously juggle a lot of increasingly difficult problems. (Oddly enough, Crazy Grandma was partly inspired by John Grisham’s Rainmaker.) I wrote up three or four plot lines in bullet form on different colored paper. Then I numbered and cut up all those strips, grouped them into scenes, and organized them into an outline. If I was doing this now, I would probably use colored post it notes or a word processing program like Scrivner, which has a great outline feature.
Another way I get inspired is by collecting pictures on the internet. I’ll look at stock photos, or just generalized searches like “teacher” or “food scientist.” When I find a picture that ‘clicks’ for me, sometimes that gives me an idea of what I want the character to look like. Sometimes I pick actors or other famous people because I can ‘hear’ what their voices sound like in my head when I write dialogue. You can see below some of the pictures I collected.
For the science experiments in the book, I consulted a lot of books and websites with “weird & gross” experiments for kids, like Snot-in-a-Bag and Elephant Toothpaste. I also tried to match them to the kind of questions you might find on a 5th grade science test. I looked at several state tests and made up my own test questions. And I looked up toys and games that kids Theo’s age might be into that year, like the LEGO Corsair Pirate Ship and this quadcopter.
More character pictures:
I published Crazy Grandma through Amazon myself. My husband made the cover! I had a lot of fun writing the book, and I’m working on writing a sequel. There will probably be a third book in the series, which will be Toby’s secret mad genius diary.