By Tori Templet | Staff Writer
Alex Perry, Baylor alumna, is making her official debut into the publishing world with her new book, “Pighearted,” about a boy and a pig who become best friends.
When Perry graduated in 2013, she always dreamed of seeing her own work on the shelves of bookstores. That dream is finally coming true as she gets ready for the release of her first book, “Pighearted,” which is geared toward 8- to 12-year-olds and middle-grade students.
“‘Pighearted’” is about a boy that has a fatal heart condition and [has] his best friend, the pig, with the heart that could save his life,” Perry said.
“The pig is actually a human-pig chimera that has a little bit of human DNA because he was bred to be a heart donor,” Perry said. “They grew a human heart inside of him and are planning to use that heart for the boy’s heart donation. However, no one realized that they accidentally also made the pig have a humanlike mind. It’s halfway from the boy’s perspective and halfway from the pig’s perspective, and the two spend the book trying to save each other. The boy really needs the heart but feels like he needs his best friend even more, and the pig would do anything to save the boy.”
As she went through the process of creating her first published literary work, Perry said her inspiration sparked from listening to an NPR story in early 2017.
“They had a story about a real scientist who is trying to take pig embryos and add human DNA to use the pigs to create human organs to give to people who need transplants,” Perry said. “They also mentioned how they were nervous if that kind of experimentation could result in an animal that had humanlike brain properties. Then, I started to think about, you know, all of those children’s books, like ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ where the animals, for some reason, are just as smart as people. I wanted to take those two ideas … and put them into a more lighthearted children’s book.”
Throughout Perry’s time at Baylor, writing and publishing a book had always been a dream of hers, but she never knew if she was actually going to get the chance to do it. Perry majored in English and German along with being a part of Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and the Honors College.
“When writing my honors thesis with Dr. Ann McGlashan, I got my first chance to try to work on a long project with a lot of research and editing, and that writing was really helpful in showing me that I could complete a big project like writing a novel,” Perry said. “I also took a creative writing class … and getting critiques from other writers has been one of the most helpful things that I’ve done.”
Before pursuing her debut novel, Perry taught middle schoolers in Houston for four years and said it was part of the emphasis for writing for the middle school age group.
“I felt like I understood them pretty well and related to them,” Perry said. “I just admire them so much. They have such big feelings.”
As Perry focuses on the release of “Pighearted,” she takes on the role of “writer mom,” as she is also a mother of a toddler.
“Pighearted” will make its debut on Oct. 26 and will be available for order at most book stores, as well as on Amazon and through her publisher’s website, Little Brown for Young Readers.