Jessica Scott Kerrin - Author

Surrounded by shipyards, marinas and fog in the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jessica became fascinated by the rich history of her province while traveling up and down the coastline aboard her family's boat and visiting museums in fishing communities along the way. There was one artifact in particular that recently caught her attention. It featured an arrangement of lobster claws glued to a plaque, surrounded by a rope frame, and must have been made by a former cannery worker. Jessica loved the idea of someone making artwork from modest materials in less-than-ideal conditions.

When asked what sparked her interest in giant lobsters, she noted that when fishermen came across them from time to time, the rare occurrence always captured the public's attention. These huge crustaceans are not particularly attractive creatures, nor are they endangered, and yet they command a considerable amount of respect, given their extremely advanced age. In fact, the largest lobster ever caught was off Nova Scotia's coast back in 1977. It weighed 44 pounds and was possibly as old as 100 years!

Jessica recognizes that featuring a giant lobster is unusual in the world of children's literature. However, she's quite fond of lobsters. Her husband makes delicious lobster bisque.

Considered an expert on what boys read, Jessica is best known for her award-winning and highly acclaimed eight-book series for boys called “Martin Bridge.” Having sold over 140 000 copies to date, these chapter books were inspired by the adventures of her husband and son.

Birthplace?
I was born in Edmonton, but raised in Calgary, Alberta.

Birthday?
November 15th.

Where do you live?
I live in downtown Halifax in a 140-year-old house that has survived two hurricanes and the Halifax Explosion. The floors slope so that all our marbles end up in one corner of the house.

Who is in your family?
I live with my husband, Peter, and our son, Elliott.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, a South American red foot tortoise named Walter. She often ends up in the corner with all the marbles.

What is your favorite book?
I grew up with strong characters like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye, Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Peter Hatcher in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. More recent heroes include Adam Owen in A Corner of the Universe; Bud Caldwell in Bud, Not Buddy; Dovey Coe in Dovey Coe; Freddie Dickinson in The Only Outcast; and Owen Skye in The Secret Life of Owen Skye.

What is your favorite movie?
Toy Story. Having grown up in Calgary, I have a fondness for cowboys and rodeos. I liked Woody.

What are your hobbies?
Sailing, writing articles for sailing magazines and making art about sailing.

When did you start writing?
The very first award I ever received was for creative writing in third grade. Unfortunately, they spelled my name wrong on the trophy, which was ironic since this was a writing award and spelling counted.

What was you schooling or training?
I have a political science and psychology degree from the University of Calgary, a master's in public administration from Dalhousie, and a fine arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

How did you get involved with children's books?
After my son was born, I began to admire the artwork in picture books. Then I noticed that some of the books also had good stories.

What is the thing that you like the most about creating children's books?
I really like reading my first drafts out loud to my son. I also like how the illustrator of my books (Joseph Kelly) adds more to the story than just my words. He has a very good sense of humor.

Where do you work?
I like to write in bed in the early morning hours, when everyone else is still asleep and it is pitch black outside.

How do you create your stories?
My stories usually start with a problem I am trying to work out: some irksome situation I have observed, some dilemma I am facing, or something from my past that never got resolved.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
Pay attention to interesting people around you who do ordinary things and ordinary people around you who do interesting things. Try to find the humor in both.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
My parents would take us to drive-in movies and we got to wear our pajamas and bring blankets and pillows in the car.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Supreme Court judge.

Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
He doesn't know it, but one day Martin is going to grow up to be a Supreme Court judge.

What is the weirdest or most interesting job you have ever had?
Work has always been interesting because I get to spend time with artists, dancers and museum curators. They are easy to write about. I am never bored.

A Narrow Escape

2013 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Lower the Trap

2013 - Hackmatack's Children's Choice Book Award, Short-listed
2012 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Martin Bridge: Blazing Ahead!

2007 - Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award, Short-listed

Martin Bridge: In High Gear!

2009 - Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award, Short-listed
2009 - Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner
2007 - Junior Library Guild Premier Selection, Winner

Martin Bridge: Onwards and Upwards!

2010 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

Martin Bridge: Ready for Takeoff!

2007 - Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award, Short-listed
2006 - Notable Children's Book, American Library Association, Winner

Martin Bridge: The Sky's the Limit!

2009 - Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner