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.

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.

Watch on YouTube

Listen to the Podcast

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Deezer, Goodpods, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, TuneIn, Blubrry, Digital Podcast, Gaana, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Podhero, PlayerFM, JioSaavn, RSS, and other podcast platforms.

Apple PodcastsSpotifyiHeartRadioStitcher

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

Topics/Resources/People Mentioned


Find out more about Amanda Hickie and their work

Connect with Us

Support STEAM Powered

Review Us

Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, GoodPods, Podchaser, or your preferred podcatcher.

Become a Patron

Become a patron
Ko-Fi button iconSupport me on Ko-fi

Affiliate Programs

Buy your books from BookDepository. There are over 20 million titles and you get free delivery worldwide to over 150 countries on every order. Want some ideas? Check out the list of every book mentioned in our conversations, or authored by our guests.

Start your own podcast or YouTube channel, or run panels and seminars with Record up to 8 people in a session with up to 1000 audience members. You can record in advance as I do, or you can livestream with the option to send it straight to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, or Twitch. There's even a green-room for guests and live call in for audience members. Afterwards, get separate video (up to 4K) and audio (up to 48kHz) tracks per recorded participant for editing, none of that “active speaker only” limitation. You know you're in good hands with a service whose client-base includes some heavy-hitters. Check out to see who else is on board. Use promo code STEAM25 to get 25% off the first three months of your subscription.

Music is “Gypsy Jazz in Paris 1935” by Brett Van Donsel.