The Art of Writing About What You Know & Love
What do you want to be when you grow up?
As adults we seem to love this question, though we’d never hold kids to their answers. We expect responses ranging from the unrealistic, to the wildly aspirational, to the not-all-that informed—whether astronaut or firefighter, archaeologist or baseball player, or President of the United States. Fortunate kids will find other passions to pursue as they grow older. Others will combine interest and practicality into something else. Still others—the majority—will not have much of a choice, at all.
But it’s no tragedy to veer from the course we set ourselves as children. It’s good to have passion, regardless.
That I’m one of the very, very few who’s stuck with his first answer is nothing to brag about. I’ve been both lucky enough to have been able to pursue my interest, and narrow-minded enough to rule out other—maybe wiser—options. I was in eighth grade when I took part in my first archaeological excavation, eleventh grade in my second, and “fourteenth” (a sophomore in college) for my third: a steady continuum, from child to adult. There have been short diversions here and there: some eye-opening time at a law firm (!), a year as a consultant in healthcare (!!). But archaeology has always been my one true love.
What I wanted to be when I grew up I already was at twelve. And the thrill is still what it’s always been: the same excitement, the same sweet sadness, the same ever-humbling awe. And now, as an author, I get to write what I love! It’s so easy, so comfortable, to envision a character whose defining passion mirrors my own. I know Samantha Sutton very well. But I recognize that not everyone shares archaeology as an interest. Some people don’t get it at all.
As an author, I hope to give enough life to Samantha’s passion that young readers can identify with its fervor, if not with its specific focus. Because while a few of my readers might be archaeologists one day, others will be astronauts and firefighters and presidents, and lawyers and consultants, too. Passion is what I wish for my young audience, and the ability to recognize it whenever it happens to find them.
About the Author
JORDAN JACOBS’ love of mummies, castles, and Indiana Jones led to his first archaeological excavation at age 13 in California’s Sierra Nevada. He followed his passion at Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge and through his work for the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, and UNESCO. His love of travel has taken him to almost fifty countries. His novels Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen were inspired by his work at Chavín de Huántar, Peru and in England. He now works as the Head of Cultural Policy at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
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