New book celebrates Space and diversity

Published 9:00am 13 September 2023

New book celebrates Space and diversity
Words by Jodie Powell

A visit to a space exhibition at the Queensland Museum gave two Moreton Bay authors the inspiration for the sequel to their first children’s book in the Secret Science Society series.

The release of Josie Montano and Kathy Hoopmann’s The Secret Science Society in Space follows on from the success of The Secret Science Society’s Spectacular Experiment.

The books celebrate diversity and individuality, with characters Zane, who has ADHD, Bart, who is autistic, Kiki, who has anxiety and Mona, who has challenges of her own.

The Secret Science Society In Space follows the adventures of the four students, who are forced to work together to represent their school to produce a project for a science fair.

After visiting a space exhibition, the members of the Secret Science Society are alarmed to discover that Laika, the first dog to orbit the Earth, was sent up in a rocket with no chance of return.

They decide their project for the science fair will be to create a spaceship that could bring animals home safely.

Working together

New book celebrates Space and diversity

Kathy and Josie, who have each published dozens of fiction and non-fiction works, say working together on a project brings a different dimension to writing.

“If we ever disagreed about something we would remember ‘A + B = C’,” Josie, who lives at Ferny Hills, explains.

“It’s not my voice, it’s not Kathy’s voice, it’s a new voice.”

Kathy, of Bunya, says the characters’ personalities evolved during the creation of their second book.

“Writing together brings out the strengths of two people - Josie and I are very different people and it makes it stronger,” she says.

“It brings out something we couldn’t have done on our own.

“We did it chapter by chapter – I would write and Josie would edit and then Josie would write the next chapter and I would edit that.

“We knew the character traits very well and it was exciting to see them evolve.”

Josie says fans of The Secret Science Society’s Spectacular Experiment will see Mona mellow during the course of The Secret Science Society in Space.

“She’s a mean girl and she’s trying to be cool, but they have to work together - she’s actually quite nerdy and she’s trying to be cool.

“When Kiki gets upset, she puts her arm around her.”

Supporting each other

New book celebrates Space and diversity

Josie and Kathy met two decades ago at a writers’ festival at Ipswich and had toyed with the idea of writing together for years.

“We realised we both had kids on the spectrum and understood each other’s lives,” Kathy explains.

“I had just written a book where the main character had Aspergers and gave it to Josie to check it out - it was my start into children’s writing.

“Then I was away for 13 years, then when I moved back Josie was so close and we ended up working on the first book.

“One of the things that was important was that we showed that these characters had weaknesses and strengths but they were supportive of each other.”

Kathy says while the theme of The Secret Science Society in Space was flagged at the end of The Secret Science Society’s Spectacular Experiment, it was a space-themed evening at the Queensland Museum that really kicked things along.

“The idea of building a rocket to protect dogs came from the museum,” Kathy says.

“We had an absolute ball gadding about with astronauts, pretend-flying real live rocket ships and making other people point and laugh as we moonwalked around in paper helmets,” Josie laughs.

“Kids just love space and rockets and planets but we had to be really careful how we did it so as not to traumatise children with the story about Laika and that’s where Kiki’s character really helped.

“Her way of dealing with anxiety is to solve the problem.”

See the video

Meet the authors

New book celebrates Space and diversity

Join Kathy and Josie at the Arana Hills Library on Saturday, September 23 from 10.30-11.30am for the official launch of The Secret Science Society in Space.

Entry is free, but bookings are required.

They are also giving one-hour presentations at Brisbane City Council libraries.

Catch them at Mitchelton library on December 13 at 2pm, Nundah on January 9 at 10am, Banyo on January 13 at 10am and Indooroopilly on January 16 at 1pm.

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