The Seismic Seven Interview with Author Katie Slivensky
Seven kids. One supervolcano. One chance to save the world. If that tagline doesn’t make you desperate to find out what happens in The Seismic Seven, we don’t know what will! We devoured this exciting story in just one sitting because we literally couldn’t stop ourselves from turning page after to page to find out what was going to happen next. Author Katie Slivensky is the absolute best at writing intense, high-stakes adventures that read more like watching a movie than snuggling up with a book, as we learned with her thrilling sci-fi adventure, The Countdown Conspiracy.
With real science woven throughout the story and the clock ticking against the odds, we were on the edge of our seats as Bri and the rest of the Seismic Seven raced to save the day. The evidence is fully conclusive that The Seismic Seven will captivate you, ignite your love of science, and have you ready to take on all of the wild adventures life throws your way!
Brianna Dobson has been chosen to work with world-renowned geologist Dr. Grier in Yellowstone National Park for the summer, and she couldn’t be more excited!
But then Dr. Grier tells her and the other kids on the project the real reason she’s invited them to Yellowstone: A massive supervolcano in the park is about to erupt—and if they can’t stop it, Earth will be plunged into an endless winter, and civilization will be destroyed.
Bri and her new friends are ready and willing to help stop the eruption, but unexpected dangers threaten to foil their efforts. Will the Seismic Seven be able to defy nature and save the world?
We chatted with author and science educator Katie Slivensky about bringing The Seismic Seven to life, super volcanoes, and her advice for science-loving kids!
The Seismic Seven – Interview with Author Katie Slivensky:
Writing exciting science-based stories is kind of your thing, but what inspired you to write The Seismic Seven in particular?
KATIE SLIVENSKY: The short answer: kids!
The long answer: I’m a career science educator and so I get to have a ton of fun conversations with kids about all types of science. Whenever the topic of geology comes up, everyone always gets really fascinated by the idea of supervolcanoes and suddenly there’s a million questions, including what we’d do if one was going to go off. That got me thinking—what could a group of kids do to stop such a cataclysmic event? As a scientist myself, once a good question like that gets lodged in my brain, I can’t stop thinking about it until I explore it thoroughly. In my case, that means I have to write a book about it!
What drew you to the Yellowstone National Park supervolcano as a plot point and should we worry? Can it really erupt and change life on Earth as we know it?
KATIE: The Yellowstone Supervolcano is probably the most famous of all the supervolcanoes in the world (yes, there are many). Between that and the fact that I adore Yellowstone National Park, it seemed like the perfect choice for this novel. However, I want to be clear: there are no volcanoes on Earth that are likely to have a super-eruption anytime soon. Not Yellowstone, not anywhere.
If one did erupt, yes, it would impact the entire world—dropping temperatures worldwide due to increased aerosols in the atmosphere and covering hundreds, if not thousands, of square miles with thick ash and rock. It would be the worst eruption in human history and the deadliest natural disaster of all modern time. But scientists have studied these volcanoes extensively, and the odds are next to nothing of this actually happening anytime remotely soon. Really. So don’t worry!
Meanwhile, there are volcanoes around the world that are currently erupting and causing devastation (just not on a supervolcanic scale). Please consider making a donation to help the people of Guatemala at this time.
What are three words you would use to describe Bri?
KATIE: Creative. Courageous. Growing.
If you were chosen to be a part of a dangerous, scientific mission like the one in your book, how would you handle it?
KATIE: Oh gosh. I’d like to think I’d agree to go along with it and help right away, but I’d probably be more like Wyatt or Kenzie (from THE SEISMIC SEVEN) and search for proof that this really needed doing before I committed. Then I’d debate back and forth with myself forever, and ultimately land on helping out. I’d likely act as a strategist for the team, along the lines of a Miranda or Anna (from THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY).
Both of your books, The Seismic Seven and The Countdown Conspiracy, have been thrilling, high stakes adventures. Is it hard to write action-packed scenes or tension building moments?
KATIE: For me, it’s sort of hard not to. It’s the carrot at the end of the stick, so to speak, while I write the book. My reward in writing is getting my characters to a point where things get completely and utterly out of hand. I love writing those moments of intensity!
What is hard about constructing action sequences is keeping track of all the players, so that no one is ever just standing around doing nothing in a scene where, logically, everyone should be reacting. I tend to write stories with large casts, so that’s a lot of people to keep moving and active! More than once I’ve written entire scenes where I’ve realized everything could have been fixed by one character just making one tiny different decision, so then I have to reconstruct the action to make that impossible for them, hah!
If Bri and Miranda were to meet, what do you think they would do together? Would they be friends? What would they talk about?
KATIE: I do think they would be friends! Bri is a lot more outgoing than Miranda and would almost certainly try to get Miranda to show off her robotics on her YouTube channel. Miranda would probably be embarrassed, but would agree if the focus was on her robots. I actually think Bri would be a great influence on Miranda! She’d also have a million questions for Miranda about what Earth looked like from space, which Miranda would be thrilled to share.
Your books also feature diverse, science-savvy kids and intelligent girls who are interested in science and robotics as lead characters. Can you share a little around this?
KATIE: It boils down to the fact that I want to reflect actual kids in real science roles. A lot of stories will have one stereotyped “nerd” character, who does all the “smart, science-y” stuff for the rest of the team. That’s not real life and that’s not real science. Anyone can be STEM-oriented. Additionally, there’s no one person who is a master of every STEM field.
So, I create a cast of kids who all have different STEM interests and different backgrounds, just like in real life. If this helps in any way to actively challenge who people see as the “smart” or “main” characters in a book, that’s all the better. I want kids to get to see themselves as science heroes, but I also want kids to see people beyond their own personal identities as science heroes.
And why girl main characters, in particular? Well, I grew up reading almost exclusively male main characters in action stories. On top of this, the first books I wrote earlier in life usually had boys as the protagonists. When I stopped to examine why I’d written so many boy main characters, it kind of horrified me how much I’d internalized the message that boys were naturally more important to the plot and girls were secondary. So, I vowed to put girls front and center in my books while keeping the gender ratios relatively balanced for the cast as a whole.
What is a science fact you learned while researching for The Seismic Seven?
KATIE: I loved learning how the different types of magma could erupt into different types of lava. The upper chamber of the Yellowstone Supervolcano is very rhyolitic—which means that lava would come out gross and black and chunky, kind of like volcanic vomit. Instead of an entrancing river of bright orange runny lava, it would hurl out as heaps of destructive ash and rock. Meanwhile, down in the lower chamber, there is a huge amount of basaltic magma waiting to explode out as more classical, smoother lava flows, like the ones most of us think of when we think about volcanoes. I’d love to do a tour of different types of volcanoes someday! Viewing them from a safe distance, of course. 🙂
What advice do you have for all the science-loving kids out there?
KATIE: Never stop exploring and looking upon the world with wonder. Curiosity is the foundation of science. And don’t be afraid of your own uniqueness. After all, the only way to get to new answers and solutions is to ask new questions!
In need of more thrilling, science-based adventures in your life? We think you’ll love the Bounders series by Monica Tesler!