Computer Science and Writing About Epidemics with Amanda Hickie (#11)

We talk about her novel *Before This Is Over/An Ordinary Epidemic*, volunteering with FIRST Robotics Australia, and bookbinding.

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Amanda Hickie has always been interested in ethical questions - at the age of ten annoying her scripture teacher by asking if it was immoral to lie to a murderer. Despite a passion for writing, she studied Computer Science (but quickly recovered) and Cognitive Science.

A change of lifestyle when she and her family moved to Canada resulted in her first novel, AfterZoe. Living down the road from the SARS outbreak also provided the seed for her next novel, An Ordinary Epidemic, released by MidnightSun Publishing in May 2015.

The novel was released in the US and UK under the title Before This Is Over.

Amanda lives a pleasant stroll from Coogee Beach in Sydney with her two computer oriented sons and husband and two non-computer oriented cats.

In our conversation, we talk about her novel Before This Is Over/An Ordinary Epidemic, volunteering with FIRST Robotics Australia, and bookbinding.

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Amanda Hickie’s Books

Before this is over / An ordinary epidemic website BookDepository GoodReads

Show Notes

[00:53] Amanda’s beginnings in computer science.
[01:31] What initially sparked Amanda’s interest in the field.
[02:16] What it was like studying computer science in the 80s.
[03:03] Amanda’s thoughts on the gender distribution and completion rate of women in the program.
[04:21] Thinking about the shape of your life.
[05:47] The more things change the more things stay the same.
[06:34] Where Amanda saw herself after completing computer science.
[07:20] Coming to the realisation the field as it was then was not for her.
[08:01] Getting into technical writing.
[09:08] The desire to be a writer.
[09:40] The transition to writing as a profession.
[10:25] How one becomes a writer.
[11:00] Getting published.
[11:51] The re-release of Amanda’s novel Before This Is Over.
[12:31] Releasing a book under different titles.
[13:52] Basing the novel on her experiences during the SARS outbreak in Canada.
[15:54] Reflecting on her writing in light of the current epidemic.
[18:47] Musing on the reviews the novel received on GoodReads.
[19:36] Volunteering with FIRST Robotics.
[20:41] What the volunteer work entails.
[21:50] “Coopetition”
[24:09] Being able to watch the kids develop with their teams.
[25:39] The value of role-models.
[26:30] Women in FIRST.
[28:15] The difference in technological and information accessibility then and now.
[30:02] Amanda’s coding experiences since.
[31:50] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[32:49] What drew Amanda’s interest into bookbinding.
[34:05] We start waxing lyrical and romanticising books.
[36:03] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
[38:32] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
[41:19] How to be motivated to persevere.
[45:41] Reaching out to Amanda

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