The Wisconsin writer’s latest novel, Enchantress of Numbers, tells the story of Ada Lovelace. Daughter to Romantic poet Lord Byron, Lovelace studied mathematics at a time when women were often discouraged from working outside their homes, and is considered by many to be the world’s first computer programmer – she created the first algorithm implemented by a mechanical computer.
What drew you to Lovelace’s story?
My mother was a mathematician, a high school mathematics teacher … Math was something that we talked about at our dinner table, and it was something that my mom always brought into the household, whether she was grading papers for her class or talking about this new manipulative that she was developing to help her students understand geometry.
How did you draw the line between the factual and fictional aspects of storytelling?
I think that historical fiction can do something that nonfiction cannot … get into the mind of the main character and explore what their feelings might have been, what it might have really been like to see the world through their eyes.
Do you have any favorite holiday books?
A Christmas Carol. It’s a holiday classic I love going back to year after year.