about

BioReadingSTEM • Coding

Photo Credit: Britt Q Hoover

Bio
Emily Suvada was born in Australia, where she spent her childhood reading, writing, and watching Star Trek. In college, she studied math and astrophysics, and went on to a career in finance before finding her way back to her first love—books.

Today, Emily lives in Portland, OR, with her husband, and still spends most of her free time reading, writing, and watching Star Trek. She also enjoys cooking, coding, powerlifting, hiking, and art. Her interests include AI, nanotech, virtual worlds, space travel, and genetic engineering. She is represented by DongWon Song of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.

Reading

When I was a child, I used to get in trouble for secretly reading books on my lap during class. I lived a short walk from the local library, and visited it almost every day. I read for pleasure, to learn, to challenge myself, and to broaden my thinking. This is a very abbreviated list of books which have influenced me over the years, and which are close to my heart. In no particular order:

For more, visit me on Goodreads.

STEM

STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It’s a group of subjects I love, and think every person should be encouraged to pursue. There’s a common misconception that STEM subjects are only for certain types of people—those who get straight A’s, or have a natural talent for math and science. But the truth is that anyone can succeed in STEM. It just takes hard work, dedication, and motivation.

In my non-writing life, I work at a college and help students with their quantitative skills, which are crucial to STEM studies, but are often the reason people find those subjects challenging (or even frightening). And yet, I’ve never met a student who couldn’t learn a quantitative skill they wanted to learn. The trick to succeeding in STEM is just that—you have to want it.

One of my goals as a writer is to share my passion for science and math through my writing, and inspire readers to want to learn more about STEM subjects—because they’re awesome! If you’re struggling with staying motivated in a STEM subject, or you’re just not sure why these skills are useful, get in touch through my contact page, or ask me an anonymous question on tumblr. I’m always happy to talk science!

Coding

When I graduated from college, I had almost no experience coding. I’d completed a handful of tasks throughout high school and university by following step-by-step instructions that I didn’t understand, and couldn’t see the value in learning more. I thought coding was difficult, complicated, arcane, and boring.

But when I started work, I had to learn, and fast. Pretty soon, I realized that coding was fun, challenging, rewarding, frustrating, exciting, and absolutely perfect for me. If you’re into problem-solving of any kind: crosswords, strategy games, sudoku, jigsaws, brain teasers, rearranging your bookshelf, finding the best route to school, or even if you’re just a fan of technology, then coding might be a great hobby for you, too!

These days, I mess around in a number of coding languages, including:

  • R
  • Python
  • SQL
  • jQuery/JavaScript
  • HTML/CSS
  • PHP
  • MATLAB
  • VBA

I’m self-taught, constantly learning, always trying new things, breaking things, writing bugs, messing up, and fixing things. If you’re interested in learning to code, there are a lot of free resources (and sites with some free content) online, including codeacademy, datacamp, khan academy, and many more.

It takes time to learn to code, and the best way to do it is to learn the basics, then attack a small problem you want to solve (how can I calculate how many days/months/years old someone is, given their birthdate?) and gradually move on to bigger and more complicated problems.

For more on learning to code, sign up to my newsletter, as I run through occasional, fun, book-related examples of how to solve problems in free languages like R and python.