Elaine Vickers is a woman of many hats. Her day job as a lecturer of chemistry at SUU involves starting fires and lecturing about molecules, but her second job is as an author.
Vickers has written and published two books aimed at the middle school age groups, the second to be released this evening.
She got her start in high school, writing a humorous advice column for her school’s paper.
“At least, WE thought it was hilarious,” she said, on a small “About Me” page on her website.
In college she drafted one book, but later shelved it until friend and coworker Rosalyn Eves, lecturer of English, invited her to join a few other people in a writing club. Together they workshopped stories and chapters. The group has shifted over the years, and each of the original members to stick with the group have agents and deals with major publishers.
Vicker’s first book, “Like Magic,” tells the story of three fifth-grade girls, who discover a box in the library. Each begin placing their most precious possessions in it as they navigate the difficulties of late childhood.
The second book, “Paper Chains,” is a companion to her first book, and tells the story of two young girls grappling with questions and heartaches surrounding their own families.
“Paper Chains” was inspired by a book that Vickers’ grandmother used to read to her, “The Snow Child” by Freya Littledale.
“I was lucky enough to have parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians that surrounded me with stories as I was growing up, and those stories became part of me,” Vickers said.
“Paper Chains” is set to release tonight, with a book signing and launch event at Bulloch Drug at 6 p.m.
Despite her career being rooted in chemistry, Vickers’ books have never been about the sciences.
“But, as I tell my students, chemistry is in every facet of your life,” she said. “It’s literally in every breath you take. So, of course, there’s chemistry in every story that’s ever been written.”
In addition to writing, Vickers teaches and hosts writing workshops for all ages, but generally sticks to kids in third grade to middle school. Her visits include assemblies, workshops and even science demonstrations.