AuthorsFrom the Wire

Q & A with Elaine Vickers

In this Q & A with Elaine Vickers, a college chemistry professor and children’s author, we learn about her journey from teaching chemistry to writing captivating stories for young readers. With a wide range of picture books, middle-grade novels, and YA titles under her belt, Vickers explores various subjects, including the complexities of chemistry in her latest picture book, “Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter.” Through her writing, Vickers aims to make science fun and accessible for kids, inspiring them to see themselves as scientists and fostering a love for the wonders of the world around them. Get to know Elaine Vickers and her passion for both teaching and storytelling in this insightful Q & A.

Q  A with Elaine Vickers

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Early Life and Education

Introduction to Chemistry

Elaine Vickers, a college chemistry professor and children’s author, had an early introduction to the world of chemistry. It all began in her high school chemistry class, where she was captivated by the beauty and logic of the subject. Chemistry, with its elegant balance of equations and the way it explained the world around her, immediately sparked her curiosity and left a lasting impression on her.

Inspiration from High School Teacher

Vickers’ passion for chemistry was further fueled by her high school chemistry teacher. This teacher had a unique ability to make complex concepts accessible and engaging, allowing students to truly grasp the wonders of the subject. Inspired by her teacher’s enthusiasm and expertise, Vickers knew that she wanted to share the joy of chemistry with others in a similar way.

Teaching Chemistry

Choosing to Teach at the College Level

After completing her own education, Vickers made the decision to teach chemistry at the college level. She believed that by teaching at this level, she would have the opportunity to engage with students who were genuinely interested in the subject and eager to pursue it further. This choice also allowed her to delve deeper into the intricacies of chemistry, expanding her own understanding and sharing her knowledge with others.

Belief in the Power of Chemistry

Vickers firmly believes in the power of chemistry to make sense of the world. From understanding the chemical reactions that drive everyday processes to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, chemistry has the ability to provide clarity and insight into the workings of our surroundings. By sharing this knowledge with her students, Vickers hopes to inspire a sense of awe and wonder in the subject.

The Joy of Teaching

For Vickers, the joy of teaching comes from witnessing her students’ transformations. As they progress through the semester, she sees their confidence grow as they grasp complex concepts and develop a deeper understanding of chemistry. This sense of accomplishment and the lightbulb moments that occur in the classroom bring immense satisfaction to Vickers as an educator.

Q  A with Elaine Vickers

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Path to Writing

Discovery of Children’s Literature

Vickers’ journey into the world of writing began after she became a parent and started reading to her own children. Through the stories she shared with them, she discovered the magic and power of children’s literature. The way that words and illustrations could transport young minds to different worlds and spark their imaginations fascinated her.

Writing Middle Grade Novels

Inspired by the books she read to her children, Vickers decided to try her hand at writing her own stories. She started by writing middle grade novels, exploring various themes and crafting characters that resonated with young readers. Through her storytelling, Vickers aimed to entertain while also imparting important life lessons and values.

Exploring YA Manuscripts

As her writing journey progressed, Vickers ventured into the realm of young adult (YA) manuscripts. With this shift, she embraced more mature themes and tackled subjects that resonated with older readers. The emotional depth and complexity of YA literature provided Vickers with a new canvas to weave compelling narratives and explore the depths of human experiences.

Venturing into Picture Books

Continuing her exploration of writing for different age groups, Vickers also embarked on the creation of picture books. This new challenge allowed her to distill complex ideas into concise and visually appealing stories. With picture books, Vickers aimed to engage young readers through simple yet powerful narratives, instilling a love for reading and sparking their curiosity about the world.

Published Works

Picture Books: ‘How to Make a Memory’ and ‘Thankful’

Vickers’ foray into picture books resulted in the creation of two beautiful and heartfelt stories. “How to Make a Memory” explores the power of memories and the importance of cherishing moments, while “Thankful” celebrates the joy of gratitude and the beauty in appreciating the small things in life. Filled with vibrant illustrations and touching messages, these books have been cherished by young readers and their families.

Middle Grade Novels: ‘Like Magic,’ ‘Paper Chains,’ and ‘Half Moon Summer’

In her middle grade novels, Vickers weaves tales of friendship, resilience, and self-discovery. “Like Magic” follows the stories of three girls who find solace and strength in their blossoming friendship, while “Paper Chains” explores the power of connections and the ability to overcome adversity. “Half Moon Summer” delves into the complexities of family dynamics and the transformative power of a summer filled with new experiences. Through engaging storytelling and relatable characters, Vickers captures the hearts and imaginations of young readers.

YA Titles: ‘Fadeaway’ and ‘Where There’s Smoke’

Vickers’ foray into young adult literature led to the creation of captivating stories that delve into the challenges and triumphs of adolescence. In “Fadeaway,” she explores the theme of loss and how it can shape one’s identity. Her forthcoming thriller, “Where There’s Smoke,” promises to keep readers on the edge of their seats as they unravel the mysteries within its pages. With her ability to capture the essence of teenage struggles and emotions, Vickers has gained a following among YA readers.

Latest Picture Book: ‘Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter’

Vickers’ latest picture book, “Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter,” combines her love for chemistry and storytelling. In this charming tale, she brings the subject of matter and chemistry to life through lively characters and engaging narratives. Through the story of Mae and Gerty, Vickers aims to make chemistry fun and accessible for young readers, while also encouraging their interest in science and fostering a sense of self-identity as scientists.

Q  A with Elaine Vickers

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Inspiration for ‘Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter’

Combining Chemistry and Literature

The inspiration for “Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter” came from Vickers’ desire to combine her passion for chemistry with her love for storytelling. She saw an opportunity to make the subject more approachable and exciting for young readers, by infusing scientific concepts into a relatable and engaging narrative. By blending the worlds of chemistry and literature, Vickers hoped to ignite a curiosity for science and inspire future chemists and scientists.

Making Chemistry Fun and Accessible for Kids

One of the primary motivations behind the creation of “Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter” was to make chemistry more enjoyable and accessible for children. By presenting chemistry concepts in a way that is relatable and entertaining, Vickers aimed to dispel the notion that science is dry or difficult. Through the adventures of Mae and Gerty, young readers can explore the wonders of chemistry in a way that sparks their imaginations and leaves them eager to learn more.

Encouraging Interest in Science and Self-Identity as Scientists

Another underlying goal of “Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter” is to encourage young readers to develop an interest in science and see themselves as scientists. Vickers wanted to break down any barriers or stereotypes that might discourage children, especially young girls, from pursuing a career in science. By portraying characters like Mae and Gerty who use science to explore and solve problems, Vickers sends a powerful message that science is for everyone and can be a source of empowerment and discovery.

Teaching Approach in Books

Engaging Kids through Stories and Characters

In all her books, Vickers employs storytelling as a powerful tool to engage young readers. By creating relatable characters and compelling narratives, she draws children into the world of her stories and captivates their imaginations. Through the trials and triumphs of her characters, Vickers imparts important life lessons and values, encouraging readers to empathize, reflect, and grow.

Incorporating Chemistry Concepts

In “Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter,” Vickers seamlessly integrates chemistry concepts into the story. Through the adventures of the main characters, she demonstrates scientific concepts such as states of matter, chemical reactions, and the properties of different substances. By introducing these ideas in a way that is accessible and relevant to young readers, Vickers helps them develop a foundational understanding of chemistry while simultaneously fostering a love for reading.

Future Projects

Upcoming Books and Themes

As Vickers looks to the future, she is excited about upcoming projects that will continue to inspire young scientists and readers. She plans to explore new themes and age groups, pushing the boundaries of her storytelling skills. With each new book, Vickers aims to create meaningful and impactful stories that educate, entertain, and resonate with young readers.

Continuing to Inspire Young Scientists

Above all, Vickers is committed to inspiring the next generation of scientists and writers. Through her books and her role as a chemistry professor, she hopes to ignite a love for science and literature in her readers and students alike. By blending the worlds of science and imagination, Vickers bridges the gap between these disciplines and encourages young minds to explore the endless possibilities that await them.

Writing as a Chemistry Professor

Balancing Two Passions

For Vickers, writing as a chemistry professor may seem like a balancing act at times, but it is one that allows her to fully immerse herself in both of her passions. She has found ways to draw inspiration from her scientific background and incorporate it into her writing, while also infusing her teaching with creativity and storytelling. This unique intersection of worlds allows Vickers to bring a fresh perspective to both her writing and her classroom.

Intersecting Worlds of Literature and Science

Vickers believes that literature and science have more in common than one might initially think. Both require curiosity, creativity, and a deep desire to explore and understand the world. By embracing the intersections between these disciplines, Vickers has found a way to marry her love for literature with her expertise in chemistry, creating a unique and fulfilling career that allows her to make meaningful contributions to both fields.

Impact on Readers

Feedback from Students and Readers

Over the years, Vickers has received a wealth of positive feedback from her students and readers. Many have expressed how her books have resonated with them and sparked a love for reading or a renewed interest in science. Students have credited her teaching for helping them gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for chemistry. Through these testimonials, Vickers has seen firsthand the impact her work has on young minds and the difference she is making in their lives.

Inspiring Future Careers in Chemistry and Writing

Vickers’ work has also had a profound impact on the career aspirations of her readers. Many young students have been inspired to pursue careers in chemistry, buoyed by the excitement and accessibility with which Vickers presents the subject. Others have discovered a passion for writing, using Vickers’ stories as a catalyst for their own creative journeys. By inspiring future chemists and writers, Vickers is leaving a lasting legacy of curiosity and imagination.


Elaine Vickers’ journey as a college chemistry professor and children’s author is a testament to the power of combining interests and bridging disciplines. Her passion for chemistry and love for storytelling have allowed her to create engaging and transformative works that inspire young readers and ignite their curiosity about the world of science. Through her books and teaching, Vickers has made significant contributions to both the fields of chemistry and children’s literature, leaving an indelible impact on her students and readers alike. By bringing science and imagination together, she has opened doors and forged connections that will continue to inspire and shape young minds for generations to come.