Posted in Meet the authors

Debbie Dadey

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Author website/social media:
debbiedadey.com; Facebook.com/debbiedadey; Twitter.com/debbiedadey
1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
Yes! I read under the covers at night, at the supper table with a book in my lap (makes for sticky books), and even in the bathtub (definitely not recommended-unless you like wet books!)
2. What was your favorite story?
My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Forker, read aloud to us every day. It was the best part of school (that and recess). She read the Little House on the Prairie books to us. To this day I still like books about westward expansion, but now I know how much that cost American Indians. Since I have a tiny bit of Cherokee Indian in me, the story Trail of Tears has always hurt my heart. In fact, I wrote a story called Cherokee Sister about two friends caught up in the forced Indian removal from their land, spurred by President Andrew Jackson.
3. How do you get your ideas?
I get ideas from everywhere. My friend Marcia Thornton Jones and I had the idea for our first published book from a really bad day at school. We jokingly said that if we were monster teachers all the kids in our classes would behave. What did we do? We created a teacher in Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots who just might be a vampire! It turned into a series of over sixty books called The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, with the two spin-off series of Bailey School Kids Junior Chapter Books and Bailey City Monsters.
I have a fairy garden in my yard and that gave me the idea to write Fairy Chase (Mermaid Tales #18), where Echo wants to find a fairy. She gets a little help from some stinky fairy juice and her friends.
My children have also given me great ideas. My daughter was in lots of schools plays and gave me the idea to write Once Upon A Star Fish (Mermaid Tales #12). My youngest son loves to skateboard, so I’ve been working on a skateboarding book. My oldest son, Nathan, and I wrote two books together, Slime Wars and Slime Time. We didn’t have an idea for a story at first, but we brainstormed to come up with ideas. We just said, “What would be fun to write about” and went from there.
4. What author do you really like right now?
I am lucky enough to belong the Midsouth chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers and Illustrators) and have met many wonderful authors and illustrators through that organization. Currently, I am rereading a book by Tracy Barrett called Anna of Byzantium.
5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
There are so many wonderful authors. Last summer I went on a Girls Read Tour with Stephanie Faris and Gail Nall and we had a great time. They both write really fun books for girls. They wrote one for older girls with other friends called Best.Night.Ever.
6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
I have two words of advice for anyone who wants to be an author: read and write. Okay, that is officially three words, but reading a lots and writing a lot are keys to developing into being a better writer. And they’re both fun! My website, debbiedadey.com, has a writing page that has some activities, videos, podcasts, and tips you might like to try.
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? It is the most wonderful thing! Just this morning on Twitter (twitter.com/debbiedadey) I received an amazing letter from a mom who read my books when she was young. She totally freaked out when her son brought home Werewolves Don’t Go to Summer Camp from his school library. She sent me a picture and told me how much the Bailey School Kids books meant to her when she was growing up. I hope her son will enjoy them too!
8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
Ha! I think it would be totally fun to be a mermaid in Ready, Set, Goal! and visit the lost city of Atlantis!

Posted in Meet the authors

Molly Muldoon

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Author Website/Social Mediapassingfair.com, @passingfair on Twitter

When you were my age (9), did you like to read? loved to read! In fact, I was rarely doing anything else. I’ve been a regular at my local library since I was three and you were always most likely to find me curled up with a book somewhere.

What was your favorite story? That’s a hard question. I was always reading so I probably had a new favorite every few weeks. I read the entire Sherlock Holmes series when I was probably around ten and that has been one of my favorites since then, nevermind it inspiring me to write mysteries myself so I think it makes a fairly good case for being my favorite.

How do you get your ideas? All sorts of ways. Sometimes I think of a cool idea and I write it down somewhere to remember or expand on later and sometimes something pops into my head out of nowhere and I have to write it all down right away. Talking to friends about ideas and stories is also another good way to think of new ideas. My first book was based on an idea of my friend Terry’s that we wrote together.

Your book was done with multiple authors. Was that easy or hard? I think it was a lot easier than it should have been! Everyone was incredibly nice and professional, so it was easy to work with them. We also have a Facebook group just for us where we chat all the time so even though we’re all over the country, it felt like we were in the same room. Chad did a good job of wrangling us and everyone was so excited about the book, it was easy to come together to work.

What author do you really like right now? David Mitchell and Bill Bryson are two of my all time favorite authors but they’re a little old for this blog. I’m always happy to read a new book by Meg Cabot, Raina Telegemeier, or Shannon Hale.

Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? She’s not new but Juliet Marillier is one of my all-time favorites that a lot of people haven’t read. She does retellings of fairy and folk tales with really great female characters. I reread her Sevenwaters series every few years.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? It’s pretty simple but just do a lot of reading and writing! Write anything and everything. Writing is a skill you practice like anything else and the more you write, the more you get comfortable with it. Reading gives you an idea of what you like and don’t like in stories, how stories are shaped and all sorts of other ideas. If you already like reading and writing, you’re well on your way!

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that Sometimes I do and I always love it. Writing is a pretty solitary job and you work on something special for years, sometimes, without knowing if people are going to like it or not. Hearing from someone that they enjoyed it or recommended it to a friend is a lovely feeling that makes you feel like you did something worthwhile. There’s nothing better.

If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? That’s such a hard question! It’s pretty cliché but honestly, I think I’d have to go with Harry Potter. Being able to do magic would be cool, and as a Hufflepuff, my room would be near the kitchen!

Posted in Meet the authors

Jacqueline West

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  • Author website/social media: www.jacquelinewest.com; Instagram: jacqueline.west.writes; Facebook: Jacqueline West, Author

 

  • Tell me a little about yourself:

    Hi! I’m Jacqueline, and I’m a writer. My middle-grade fantasy series, The Books of Elsewhere, began in 2010 and got a bunch of lovely accolades, including a CYBILS award and a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list. My new middle-grade fantasy, The Collectors, will be released on October 9, 2018, and I’ve got two more middle grade novels and one YA novel coming out in 2019. I live in Minnesota with my husband and our son, plus one bouncy brown dog named Brom Bones. 

     

  1. When you were my age, did you like to read?

    YES. I was the kind of kid who got in trouble for reading too much—like when I was supposed to be paying attention in class, or when it was two hours past my bedtime, or when I completely missed my bus stop because I was so absorbed in my book. But it was all worth it!

     

  2. What was your favorite story?

    As a young reader, I loved stories that mixed fear and funniness, mystery and magic. Some of my very favorites were The Hobbit, the Bunnicula series, Alice in Wonderland, and everything by Roald Dahl.  

     

  3. How do you get your ideas?

    I’m an idea collector. Everywhere I go, everything I read, everything I see or hear or overhear becomes material for the story collage. The real trick is putting those ideas together… 

     

  4. What author do you really like right now?

    Oh, I love SO MANY authors, I can hardly choose. I’ve never read anything by Kate DiCamillo that I didn’t think was fantastic. Same goes for Jewell Parker Rhodes and Laurie Halse Anderson. 

     

  5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors or illustrator you would suggest?

    Diane Magras’s MG debut, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, just came out this spring, and it’s one of the best middle grade books I’ve read in a long time: breathtaking adventure, a fascinating historical setting, and a main character I adored. 

     

  6. There is a lot of talk about the need for multicultural books. What do you think about this?

    I think the discussion is long overdue, and I’m glad it’s happening. Readers of all backgrounds need and deserve to see themselves reflected in the books they read, and authors of diverse backgrounds deserve the chance to tell their stories. On top of that, reading creates empathy. When you read a story, you’re stepping inside of someone else’s life for a while—and what a world-changing experience that is! We might never be able to completely understand the experiences of someone whose life is very different from our own, but the more stories we share, the closer we get. 

     

  7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author/illustrator?

    Read like crazy. Write like crazy. Repeat. 

     

  8. As an illustrator/author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

    Yes, I get a lot of mail from readers, and it’s incredibly cool! Most of a writer’s work is pretty isolated—in my case, it’s usually just me, in my house, in my wrinkled pajamas, scribbling or typing away. Hearing from readers reminds you that your books are traveling all around the world to places where you’ve never been, that your stories and characters exist in the imaginations of people you’ve never met. And that’s like magic. 

    The Collectors Cover 

Jacqueline West
The Collectors (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2018)
Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions (Alban Lake, 2018)
Dreamers Often Lie (Dial/Penguin, 2016)

The Books of Elsewhere (Dial/Penguin, 2010 – 2014)

 

Posted in Meet the authors

Eileen Beha

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Website: http://www.eileenbeha.com
Social Media
Facebook: eileenbeha.author
Twitter: @eileenbeha
Google+: Eileen Beha, author
Instagram: eileenbehabooks

Tell me a little about yourself. I live with my husband, Ralph, and our beloved mutt, Daisy, in a 100-year-old house in Minneapolis, MN. We are the parents of four adult children and five grandchildren. Besides writing novels for young readers, I love to read (a lot!), take long walks with Daisy along Minnehaha Creek, create collages, bake cookies, and make buttermilk pancakes for my grandchildren when they come to visit. I also enjoy the multitude of theaters, art galleries, museums, music venues, and diverse cultural activities in the Twin Cities. September is my favorite month, perhaps because I’ve always loved “going back to school.” I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner.

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read? Absolutely. All the time.

2. What was your favorite story? Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery was my favorite story as a child—so much so that I have visited Prince Edward Island, where the story takes place, more than twenty-five times, and, for many years, owned a small, seaside cottage on the south shore. The Call of the Wild by Jack London was my second favorite book.

3. How do you get your ideas? By paying attention, I’d say. My first (unpublished) novel began when, in my mind, I heard the voice of a ten-year-old girl named Cora speaking to me. My second novel, Tango: The Tale of an Island Dog started with a single image: a small dog who’d washed up on a beach, nearly dead, tangled in a lobster trap. The spark for The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea was the moment when a fan gave my son-in-law, a rock musician, a hand-sewn sock monkey in his likeness.

4. Your book – was it easy or hard? The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea was the most difficult book to write of the three I’ve written. I’d struggled with manuscript for almost three years before I realized that I hadn’t yet found the true heart of my story. Nor was I clear about what I wanted Annaliese and Throckmorton’s story to “say” to my reader at a deeper lever, and why.

5. What author do you really like right now? The author that I really like right now is E. B. White, who wrote three classic children’s books: Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. I’ve read these books before, but this time I’m analyzing White’s storytelling craft as I write my new tale of animal adventure featuring a rabbit. Why have these children’s books endured in the hearts and minds of readers? I ask myself. What is their universal, timeless appeal?

6. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? I very much enjoyed the two books that were selected by the children in the state of Minnesota as the Division I and II winners of the 2017-2018 Maud Hart Lovelace Award: Fort by Cynthia DeFelice and The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I also highly recommend Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O’connor, which was released in April, 2018. And, I’m very much looking forward to Rebecca Ansari’s debut, The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly, to be released in March, 2019.

7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read. Read. Read. Learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. The more you write the better writer you will become. Never underestimate the power of your imagination!

8. As an author, do you hear from readers? What do you like about that? Yes, I do hear from readers, usually emails sent to my author address: tango@eileenbeha.com. Because I’m not a “famous” author, I don’t receive an excessive amount of mail from readers. I can take the time to communicate personally with each “fan,” and at times, in multiple exchanges. This summer, in response to their parents’ requests, I arranged to meet two different elementary-aged readers at prearranged dates and times at our local children’s bookstore, Wild Rumpus, for a personal “meet and greet.”

9. If you could portal into any book (your or another person’s) what book would it be?
This is a fascinating question!
Hmm . . . .
I do believe that I’d like to travel to Friendly Corners Trailer Park in a small town in Florida, the setting for Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie. I would enjoy getting to know India Opal Buloni, her father, the preacher, and of course, Winn-Dixie, the stray dog that Opal rescued. I’d also get to meet the cast of characters who became Opal’s new friends: Otis, Miss Franny Block, Sweetie Pie Thomas, Gloria Dump, and the Dewberry boys.

Posted in Meet the authors

Monica Brown

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Photo by Josh Briggs

Author website/social media:

http://www.monicabrown.net/

https://twitter.com/monicabrownbks

https://twitter.com/monicabrownbks

 

When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

 I loved to read when I was young. I always had a book in my hand. I had an aunt who was a kindergarten teacher and she gave me a variety of books. I remember reading Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary’s Ribsy, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and Judy Blume’s Blubber. I particularly loved books with adventurous kids and animals too.

 What was your favorite story?

I never had just one favorite story!  The lovely thing about books is how many different kinds of adventures they can take us on. I like stories with witches and monsters, and quiet stories set in nature. I like stories about nerds and about misfits and about rebels.

 How do you get your ideas?

I’m a curious person, so I read a lot, and listen to others, and observe the world around me. There’s so much beauty and wonder, I’ve always been able to come up with interesting ideas and characters. Sometimes, fictional characters, like Marisol McDonald and Lola Levine, are drawn from my own family and life, and at other times, they come from a question asked by a child. For example, the character of Chavela Chavez from Chavela and the Magic Bubble was inspired by a question my daughter Isabella asked me: “Where does bubble gum come from?”  With my new Sarai series, I was inspired by Sarai Gonzalez herself! She’s a bold, caring, creative girl who wants to change the world and leave it a better place!

 

Why do you think multi-cultural (including bilingual) books are important?

Multicultural books are important because they reflect our world and our reality. I love bilingual books because I think it’s neat to see two beautiful languages side by side on the page. I also think being bilingual, or trilingual, is something to be celebrated! The more languages we know the more people we can connect to, and life is all about relationships and friendship.

 

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

 Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. Revise. Revise. Revise. And don’t give up! Keep writing and believe in yourself, even if nobody else does! Write the stories you want to read.

 

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

 It’s always a lovely gift to hear from my readers! I like knowing that I’ve made them laugh or think or that I’ve given them the enjoyable experience of reading a good story.

  

If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

 My Lola Levine series is inspired by my family, so it’s certainly a place I enjoy being in—if only in my mind when I write. My children are grown up and at college, so it’s fun to remember the times when we were all at home together. But I supposed if I could portal into a book, I might choose one where there’s magic, like Cornelia Funke’s Inkspell or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, because who wouldn’t like to be magical?

 

Posted in Meet the authors

Stephanie Campisi

Website: http://www.stephaniecampisi.com

Twitter, IG: @stephcampisi

Facebook: facebook.com/stephcampisiauthor

Tell me a little about yourself:

I’m a picture book author who writes stories about creatures and people who don’t quite fit in. My books include The Ugly Dumpling, Luis and Tabitha (out this month!) and soon The Five Sisters and Very Lulu.

I’m originally from Australia, but now live in a tiny town in Washington State, USA. I spend my days working in my upstairs office, reading on the porch and keeping an eye out for interesting wildlife in my yard.

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

Absolutely! I was lucky enough to have a library at the end of my street, so I spent most of my afternoons there. They had a great kids’ section, and I remember trying to work my way through all the books in alphabetical order!

2. What was your favorite story?

I loved animal books, fantasy stories and ghost stories. When I was 9, some of my favourites were The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda and R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, which were starting to become really popular at the time.

3. How do you get your ideas?

I get ideas from everywhere! I email myself newspaper stories that I find interesting, take photos when I’m out walking or travelling, and make notes when I read something interesting in a book. Normal conversations with people can also lead to great ideas. People all lead such different lives, and it’s easy to come across something that you find really interesting and worth exploring in a story. I also love word play, so lots of my books start out with a funny title and build from there.

4. Your book – was it easy or hard?

The initial idea is always easy, but turning it into a book is hard work! Even a picture book can take months to write, and it can be a few years before it ends up in a bookshop or on library shelves. I do think that the more you write the easier it gets. It’s a bit like taking up running: at first you run out of breath really quickly, but the longer you train, the longer (and better) you can run!

5. What author do you really like right now?

I really enjoy Cressida Cowell – I think she’s hilarious! In teen books I love Jaclyn Moriarty, and for picture books I think that Julie Falatko and Ame Dyckman are great.

6. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

For picture books, Jessie Sima and Dashka Slater; for novels, Mary Hooper and Cassandra Golds are authors you might like to try in a few years’ time. (I have to keep it short, or I’ll go on forever! I feel like so few authors are as well-known as they should be!)

7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Just the basics: read a lot, write a lot, and be a mindful “reporter” of the world around you. Write stories that you love, and explore interesting characters and ideas. Don’t even worry about how to turn a story into a book. Just enjoy reading, writing, and observing. All of these habits are very valuable skills for an author.

8. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

Yes, I do! It absolutely makes my day to get an email or a message from someone telling me that they’ve enjoyed one of my books. So if you read something that you love, don’t feel shy about letting the author know. I promise they’ll love to hear from you. It’s much better than getting a bill in the post.

(In fact, when I was about 13, I wrote to one of my favourite authors, and she wrote back with a lovely note – I was so surprised and excited, because up until then I don’t think I’d truly realised that authors were real people! That note helped me realise that being an author was something that I could do, too.)

9. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

Well, books are full of drama, and I’m a very boring person. So nothing where I’d be in trouble or danger! I think I’d pick a setting by Diana Wynne Jones. Weird, strange things might happen, but I’d be having so much fun I wouldn’t mind

illustration by Hollie Mengert

illustration by Hollie Mengert

illustration by Hollie Mengert
Posted in Meet the authors

Helaine Becker

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  • Author website/social media:www.helainebecker.com; twitter @helainebecker  I have an instagram acct @helainebecker but I never use it.

When you were my age (9), did you like to read? Oh yes. I was AVID. I was very lucky – we had a great public library in my town, and my parents took us kids at least once a week. They were avid readers too. Nobody told me what I could or couldn’t read, so I ranged widely through the kids’ section first, then the adult section. When I was nine, I read and loved books like Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kassirer, Half Magic and Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager, The Four Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright, The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes and The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I’d probably discovered The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis by then. I also started reading books for adults like Tolkien’s The Hobbit and mysteries by Agatha Christie. I didn’t always understand everything I read, but found them pretty fun anyway. I’ve attached a picture of me on a summer vacation in Rhode Island. A very typical picture of me at that age – I was 9 that July – turning 10 later in the summer.

9 yo Helaine reading on the beach

What was your favorite story?I fell head over heels for the Lion the Witch and Wardrobe, which I stumbled upon by accident. I remember finding it on the shelf at the library, taking it home and loving it – but then I couldn’t find it again!! I didn’t remember the author’s name or the complete title. It was probably two years before I stumbled across it again – AND discovered there were six more books in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I was ECSTATIC. I read every book at least 3000 times.

How do you get your ideas? For me, ideas are everywhere. They are like breathing. I pay attention to what’s going on around me, and am constantly asking myself questions, of the “I wonder….” and the “What if” variety.  I also still read a lot, and when I read, I learn stunning bits of info that just seem to scream out to be turned into book. As far as retelling stories goes – no story is ever complete. When I read a story like Cinderella, I wind up with questions. Like, “what if Cinderella had the stinkiest feet of everyone in the whole town?” THAT then becomes a new story, a “retelling” of an old one, but with a new twist that only I can provide. (That retold Cinderella became a poem called “Smelly Smelly Cinderelly.” It originally appeared in my book Mother Goose Unplucked. It’s hilarous, if I do say so myself. When I do school visits, I sometimes read another poem called Tinkle Tinkle Tinklebell, about a Tinkerbell like fairy with a bladder problem).

What author do you really like right now?I am madly in love with the books of Kim Brubaker Bradley. I love how she tells complicated stories simply, without dumbing down or sanitizing the tough bits. Jefferson’s Sons and The War That Saved My Life are both brilliant.

Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?I live and work in Canada, so I know a lot of Canadian authors. They’re doing amazing things now! You will love love love books by Helene Boudreau, Deborah Kerbel, Frieda Wishinsky, Karen Krossing, Mahtab Narsimhan, Heather Camlot Lena Coakley,Adrienne Kress.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?Ah. The question.  You know some of the biggies people always tell you, like read a lot, already. They are right, but I won’t repeat. Here’s my one extra point:  Most of us think that if we try and write something and it comes out bad, that means we’re not good writers. That’s not true. EVERY writer’s first draft stinks. It’s so stinky we have a term for it – we call it “word vomit.” It’s hard to get the ideas out of your head and onto the page. The first draft, therefore, is just your raw material. Pro writers revise and revise and revise until their eyes cross, trying to turn that mess into a shiny jewel. The ones who succeed are the ones who worked the hardest at that revision stage, not the ones who started out with the best first draft.

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I love knowing that my work touched someone’s heart – whether to make them laugh, learn to read, or get through a tough time. Writers spend a lot of time in our offices alone, doubting ourselves. Getting feedback like that gives us the courage and will to keep at it.

If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?Through most of my life I would have instantly said, “Narnia.” Talking animals! Centaurs! Kids get to be queens! But now? Hmmmm….it’s going to have to be a world with working flush toilets…and no sexism or racism….I pick The Zoom, where Sloth in Sloth at the Zoom lives. I think she’s got a pretty sweet gig going!

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