{Guest Post + Giveaway} Questioning Myself by Steve Hockensmith

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014

For regulars to this blog, you know that I love a good children's book on occasion. If we get our kids reading at an early age, it becomes a no brainer that they become readers later on in life.

I have a great series that introduces science to kids in a unique and fun way! The Nick and Tesla series by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith, combines story and science experiments. I've read and reviewed Book 1 already and I look forward to Book 2  

Today I welcome Steve Hockensmith of this dynamic science-writing duo on Guiltless Reading. Prizes are up for grabs ... and it's open international, so ... take it away Steve ... and Steve.

Questioning Myself by Steve Hockensmith, author of Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage

Steve Hockensmith ...
questioning himself on his
mighty steed!
Questioning myself is something I’m really good at. There’s hardly a moment of the day when I’m not thinking “Why did you do that?” or “Why did you say that?” or, when I’ve really screwed something up, “What the heck is wrong with you?”

So when I decided to do this guest post as a Q&A, it was obvious who I should turn to for the Qs. Me! I’m asking myself questions all the time already, right? Plus, the post was due the next day, and I couldn’t get anyone else to do it.

Q: Hi, Steve! How’s it going?

A: Hey, Steve. Not bad. How about for you?

Q.: About the same. But we’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you. Why don’t you tell us about your newest book?

A: It’s called Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage, and it’s the second book in a new middle-grade series I’m doing with “Science Bob” Pflugfelder. It’s about these science-loving 11-year-old twins, Nick and Tesla, who solve mysteries by building cool do-it-yourself gadgets. I come up with the mysteries and do the writing, and Science Bob creates all the doohickeys and supplies directions so readers can build them themselves.

Q: So it’s kind of like the Hardy Boys meets MacGyver -- with instructions?

A: If one of the Hardy Boys was a girl, sure.

Q: Who says one of the Hardy Boys wasn’t a girl? You’ve heard the rumors about Joe Hardy, haven’t you?

A: Uhh...no.

Q: Well, let’s just say there’s a reason no one ever saw him and Nancy Drew in the same room together. [Wink wink.]

A: Wait. Are you saying that one of the Hardy Boys was -- ?

Q: Hey, see the “Q” when I talk? That means I’m asking the questions here, thank you very much.

A: Oh. Right. Sorry.

Q: So why a book for kids? You’ve written seven novels before this, and they were all for adults.

A: Writing a middle-grade book was something I’d been wanting to try for a long, long time. There’s always been a lot of humor and whimsy in my work, so kids’ books seemed like a natural fit. I could never quite hit on the right concept, though. I started toying with a couple ideas a few years ago, but in hindsight I don’t think they were --

Q: [Closes eyes, lets head sag onto chest] Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

A: Are you alright?

Q: [Opens eyes wide, jerks head up] Huh? What? I must’ve dozed off for a second. What were you saying?

A: I was talking about how the Nick and Tesla books came about. I was kicking around ideas for a middle-grade series -- fantasy-driven stuff, mostly -- but nothing was gelling. Then one day I got a call from --

Q. [Head droops, eyelids flutter.] Must... keep... eyes... open... but... tedium... too... stronnnnnnng... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

A: Geez, you asked the question. I’m sorry if the answer’s boring. What am I supposed to say? The ghost of Donald Sobol came to me in a dream and gave me the idea?

Q: Ooo! I like it! Then what happened?

A: [Rolls eyes] I should’ve known getting you to do this was a bad idea.

Q.: O.K., O.K. If you want to keep it all factual and true and stuff, fine. [Sighs.] Talk more about the new book, Robot Army Rampage. I understand it’s got rampaging robots in it. An army of them, even. Where did the idea for that come from?

A: The title. Jason Rekulak, the publisher at Quirk Books, came up with the name for the first book in the series -- Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab. I thought that was a fantastic title and wanted something just as fun for the first sequel.

So I suggested Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage and then had to cross my fingers and hope that (A) everyone would like it and (B) Science Bob could figure out how to build homemade robots so we could justify the title. And both A and B worked out.


[More silence]

[Even more silence]

A: Are you asleep again?

Q: [Gazing off at nothing with glassy-eyed stare] Nope. Comatose.

A: What the heck is wrong with you? [Gets up, stomps off]

Q: Come back! I was just about to ask you the same thing!

[End of interview]

About the Author

Steve Hockensmith and Steve Hockensmith’s first novel, the mystery/Western hybrid Holmes on the Range, was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony and Dilys awards. It was followed by four sequels. Hockensmith and Hockensmith also wrote the New York Times bestselling prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dawn of the Dreadfuls. You can learn more about them and their other books at www.stevehockensmith.com

Links: Nick and Tesla | Science Bob | Steve Hockensmith

Nick and Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself (Book 1)
 Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Read my review HERE.

Synopsis: Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects. In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles.

Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself (Book 2)
 Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide 

Synopsis: In this second novel of the Nick and Tesla series, the precocious brother-and-sister duo find themselves solving another baffling mystery. As the story opens, their Uncle Newt takes a consulting gig at a cut-rate amusement park, engineering animatronic figures for a cheap Hall of Presidentsknockoff. One perk of the job is that Nick and Tesla have unlimited access to the amusement park all summer long—but the kids quickly discover that one of the park employees has a sinister plan. They’ll have to build a few robots of their own to foil him! Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.


  1. I know that it is old school but, I just love it when you mix baking soda and vinegar in a soda bottle and watch the balloon fill up with carbon dioxide gas.

    1. Old school is cool. There's a variation of that in book 1 ... :) Thanks for joining in the fun!

  2. Love turning a boiled egg into a rubber bouncing "ball" with vinegar - so fun!

    *FYI - the "like" on fb has no link on the giveaway form - so went to fb to search for it

    1. rubber eggs? i've heard of it but never yet tried it!

      PS thanks for pointing it out. i think it works now!

  3. would love to review these!

    1. Try giving Eric Smith at Quirk Books a shout, Susan! He might be able to hook you up. The address: eric@quirkbooks.com

  4. How about a magic trick gone wrong? I have more of those stories. Does anyone remember those science experiment kits Radio Shack used to sell? I performed some neat experiments with those.

    1. I wish you'd share one of your experiments (gone wrong). I'm not familiar with the kits from Radio Shack so now I'm curious!

  5. I too enjoy reading children's books. It brings back fond memories and keeps my mind young. I always liked to blow up the ballons and cover them in plaster. Messy but loved the smell:) These sound delightful.
    Very fun and entertaining interview. What's this I hear about one of the Hardy's being a girl??

    1. That was just Other Steve being perverse. Ignore him.

    2. I'm not making it up. Joe Hardy now lives in Baltimore under the name Josephine Hardy.
      -Other Steve

  6. Nothing like a mentos and soda bottle experiment.
    Love the interview done here, and the books sound awesome. I love books for kids that have an entertaining story and give something to learn as well. If I'm lucky enough to win, I will definitely be sharing the fun with my 12 yr old home-schooled daughter. Fun stuff!

  7. I've had this series on my TBR list. I love the idea of it. ;) Failed science experiments - squirrel catapult - make your own chewing gum (I think there is still some stuck to the kitchen counter) - building my own light saber
    Good science experiments - plan proceeding to take over the world (maybe I should have said that ;) ). I love Mr. Hokensmith's interview with Mr. Hockensmith.

  8. Lol, Great Q & A!! I feel the same way---I bore myself XD

  9. I don't know if it was an experiment but we had a kit that was supposed to help us make our own sour candy. It was awful!


© guiltless readingMaira Gall