Author Spotlight: Emily Seo

September 1, 2022

We are excited to feature author Emily Seo and her middle-grade novel, THE SCIENCE OF BOYS, illustrated by Gracey Zhang (Tradewinds Books June 2022).

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The book designer is Elisa GutiƩrrez

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

My background is in the sciences but my passion lies in writing for children. I have a PhD in organic chemistry and have lived and worked abroad in Scotland and Germany. I am now back in Vancouver, Canada where I write and perform chemistry experiments in the kitchen while cooking and baking. I enjoy hiking, biking and running but equally enjoy watching movies and eating the products of my kitchen experiments.

I have always been interested in writing for children, but imagined I would write nonfiction. I took a children's book writing course which had a follow up fiction class. At first I believed that writing fiction was outside my realm and my comfort zone, but with the desire to improve my writing skills I took the course. To my surprise, I fell in love with writing fiction. I adore world building and creating characters and situations that young readers can relate to.


Congrats on your debut middle grade novel, The Science of Boys! Tell us about the book and what inspired you.

In the fiction course I took, there was a girl in my class who was having "boy" problems. She asked me everything from how I met my husband to what I thought were the most essential elements to a strong and long-lasting relationship. I told her that having the same values and being able to be yourself around this person are important and said things like, "don't ditch a friend for a boy." Another classmate overheard our conversation and as she knew I was a scientist, she said, "Why don't you apply science concepts to your advice." So I did. And I wrote a short story about it. The short story became a long story, and that is how the novel, The Science of Boys came to fruition.

The book is about a twelve-year-old science nerd, Emma Sakamoto who wants to reinvent herself at the start of high school. When a new stylish girl makes it known that she has a crush on a boy, Emma begins writing a book about the science of boys. She applies real science to her advice, but she's clueless when it comes to human emotions. Each chapter heading contains a science law, theory or concept that is interwoven into this story about the struggles of fitting in and the complexities of relationships.

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

It was long and winding with bumps and roadblocks along the way. Persistence was key. I told myself I would complete this book no matter what.

What projects are you working on now?

Currently, I'm working on another middle-grade novel, my first with magical realism. I also have a board book coming out later this year, Our World: Japan, which is part of a global series and a picture book, The Perfect Sushi coming out Fall 2023 (Barefoot Books).

What are some of your favorite classic middle-grade books? Recent ones?

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Thing about JellyFish, Counting by Sevens, Word Nerd, The Matilda Effect


What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Keep going, keep writing, finish what you've started. It might feel like a mess at first, but with rounds and rounds of revisions, you never know what you'll end up with. 

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I love soundtracks and write music to go with my stories.


Where can people find you online? and @emilyseowrites on Instagram and Twitter. I'm also on Linked In.


Emily Seo is a PhD chemist with a big imagination and a lot of ideas. Her mind is fueled by sweets, especially of the chocolate variety. She likes to run from one place to another, even when she's not in a rush.


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  1. I enjoyed learning about this author's background and can't wait to read this book as well as her upcoming sushi book.

  2. Love the back story behind this middle grade book!


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