Posted in Meet the authors

Dana Levy

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

I did — I was an early reader, and I loved to read. At nine I was really into historical fiction, and I loved Little Women, and dozens of other Louisa May Alcott books that were less well known, as well as Anne of Green Gables and the rest of that series. (If I’m being honest, I really wanted to own a hoop skirt at this stage of my life, which, needless to say, never happened). But I will also say that I know a several authors who didn’t love reading when they were kids, either because they had an undiagnosed learning difference, or because their lives were really complicated and the books they read didn’t interest them, or some other reason. But eventually — and it might not have been until high school or even college — these folks find that one book. And it might be a graphic novel, or a nonfiction story, or an audiobook, but it blew their minds and changed their thinking, and led them to become readers! So even though for me books were always a big part of my life, I tell kids I meet that even if they don’t like reading now, it doesn’t mean they won’t find a book that changes their mind!

2.     What was your favorite story?

Growing up there were so many books I adored, from Wrinkle in Time to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, to Anne of Green Gables and so on! It’s hard to imagine choosing one. I was and am a big rereader…I reread my favorites again and again!

3.     How do you get your ideas?  

Every book I write starts with two questions: the first is “What if?” — What if there were a family with four boys and two dads (like The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher)? What if a family took a cross-country train trip (like This Would Make a Good Story Someday)? But the second question is “So what”? — why does the story matter? What are the ways that the characters grow and change? So when I get an idea that seems fun, I ask myself “so what?” and try to make sure that there is a reason to dig into the story.

4.     What author do you really like right now?

There are so many wonderful authors! It’s hard to narrow it down. But Jason Reynold’s books are awesome, and he writes faster than lightning, I think, because there are so many great books of his in the world. Also Grace Lin’s books — both her chapter books and her picture books — are wonderful. 

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

Kelly Yang, who wrote Front Desk, is definitely a new author to watch! And I think Ellen Wittlinger’s books are wonderful. Kat Yeh writes awesome middle grade books. If you like spooky stories, Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies and Ellen Oh’s Spirit Hunters are just the right kind of scary. And I am really excited for Aida Salazar’s The Moon Within, which comes out this month.

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

Read. Read read read read! It’s really the only way to learn the language of stories. And remember there is no rush! If you are a kid who wants to write, you can certainly find some contests and options for trying to get short stories published, but that is not a requirement. Unlike getting a letter for Hogwarts or being an Olympic gymnast, there is no age limit! Don’t feel you have to rush. You can write, and practice, and tell stories, and get better, without worrying about being published. As you get into high school and college there are opportunities to learn about the publishing industry and understand the business of being a published author. But first of all, you have to love to write!

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

I really do! Writing can be lonely — we work for months and years on a project, then eventually it becomes a book and goes out into the world like a message in a bottle. And until we hear from readers, it’s hard to know if it’s reaching anyone! So hearing from readers makes a huge difference! It reminds me why I tell my stories.

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

Probably Harry Potter. But not books five, six, or seven. Because…well, you know!

Posted in Meet the authors

Karla Manternach

Author website/social media:

@mskarlam on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

https://www.karlamanternach.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5023673.Karla_Manternach

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

I liked to read in school and when my parents stuck a book in my hands because I was “SO bored,” but I didn’t choose to read very often on my own. I was more interested in playing! I played with my Star Wars action figures a lot at that age. My brother and I also liked to pretend we were running away from evil villains. I liked to write, though–mostly stories about aliens and other creatures. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to appreciate how reading let me live in my imagination a lot like playing and writing did.

2. What was your favorite story?

When I was very young, I loved a Little Golden Book called THE NEATOS AND THE LITTERBUGS. I used to beg my older sister to read it to me. When I was older, my favorite book was A WRINKLE IN TIME. The main character, Meg, is lonely and felt like a misfit, but she goes on an incredible adventure and starts to feel more comfortable with herself and others. I wanted that, too. I wanted a sense of belonging, and I wanted to travel the galaxy!

3. How do you get your ideas? Stories about kids with epilepsy are rare.

The idea for MEENA MEETS HER MATCH came from real life. My daughter, Amelia, was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was nine years old. I wanted write about what it was like for her. I also wanted to show that kids are kids, no matter what, and that everybody goes through ups and downs.

Actually, I’d say that most of my story ideas come from real life. I’m inspired by people I know and conversations I hear and things that happen to me. They light a fire in my imagination, but the ideas also change a lot as I write about them. My daughter’s experience was the spark that made me want to write a book, but Meena became her own person, and her story turned into something new and different from my daughter’s story.

4.What author do you really like right now?

Oh, there are so many, but Anne Ursu and Jacqueline Woodson are two of my favorites.

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

I don’t pay much attention to how well known an author is. I just know when a book draws me in and won’t let go. A couple of middle grade books that do that for me are BLUEFISH by Pat Schmatz and THE DESPERATE ADVENTURES OF ZENO AND ALYA by Jane Kelley. For nonfiction, I also love Patricia Sutton’s CAPSIZED!

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

Practice! Nobody sits down at a piano for the first time and plays a song. They just bang their hands on the keys and make noise. Learning to write is a lot like that. You get good at it by doing it. So try writing new things. Go back to older pieces you’ve written and see how you could improve them. Play with words. Tell stories. Your writing will just get better and better!

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

I’m starting to! It’s so fun to connect with people who are reading MEENA MEETS HER MATCH. Writing is funny, because I do it alone, but I also have an audience in mind. I don’t have any way of knowing who will be drawn to the story or what it might mean to them. I just have to put it out there and hope it finds its way to the people who need it. When someone does connect with what I wrote…it feels magical!

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

Wow, that’s a great question! When I was younger, I would have said that I wanted to time travel or blast into outer space. Now when I read, I care more about traveling into the minds and hearts of characters I love. I don’t have a specific book in mind, but I want to know what life is like for other people. I want to feel what they feel and see things from their point of view. That’s the portal I’d pick.

Posted in Meet the authors

S.A. Larsen

S.A. Larsen Author image 1.jpg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SA_Larsen | @SA_Larsen

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I loved Nancy Drew mysteries and anything that had spooky or eerie elements to it. I also adored Judy Blume’s SUPERFUDGE. But I truly discovered my love of the eerie mingled with fantasy in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien.

2. What was your favorite story?
As a young child, it would be Where The Wild Things Are. As a middle schooler, it would be Judy Blume’s Are You There God. It’s Me, Margaret. And as an adult, there is not doubt my favorite story is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; not spooky, I know. But my love of romance is the flip-side to my creepy, eerie side.

3. How do you get your ideas?
I read. A lot, and of all sorts of subjects. I’m also a people watcher, because people are interesting and where real stories begin. But in all of that I must find something that visually catches my eye. I’m all about physical imagery, a visual writer. Often while writing, I’ll close my eyes to see a scene play out in my head. What were the colors, the smells? What did the characters sound like, and how is their world different from all other worlds? If the sky was blue, I’ll ask myself ‘Does it have to be for this story?’ Playing the ‘what-if’ or the ‘details’ game always generates ideas.

4. What author do you really like right now?
Tough question. I’ve been a fan of Kate DiCamillo and Alice Hoffman for as long as I can remember, so those are a given. For right this moment . . . I’ll go with Jonathan Stroud. I totally heart The Screaming Staircase!

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
There are so many talented authors in the kidlit writing community. There’s my fellow @TheSweet16s authors, but in particular my friend Kathleen Burkinshaw, who wrote The Last Cherry Blossom, which is fantastic. And I must give major props to my #SpookyMG author mates from http://www.spookymiddlegrade.com. I can’t choose just one of them. You should read them all! As a matter of fact, we have a Reading Challenge available, where you can win prizes! For a list, feel free to check out our website because spooky books aren’t just for Halloween anymore.

6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Write, often. One way to do that is to keep a journal. You can write your thoughts, story ideas, hopes, fears, or whatever. Even a creative shopping list. It doesn’t matter. Writing is writing.
Remember that writing is subjective. Just because someone doesn’t like what you wrote doesn’t mean it isn’t good or well written. It could simply be their taste in subject.
If you love writing, don’t ever give up.
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes, and it’s probably the top most exciting thing to happen to me aside from getting married and having my children. Receiving correspondence from readers is like opening up unexpected Christmas presents. I am so grateful that they’ve taken time out of their lives to share in my make believe worlds. I remember shortly after Motley released I was in a local restaurant with my husband and a few friends. A woman walked up to our table and tapped me on the shoulder. She had a little boy with her. He saw me from across the restaurant and recognized me from my author photo in the back of my book. He wanted to tell me he’d read Motley and loved it; he also asked when book two was coming out. My heart practically burst from joy. His words meant the world to me and encouraged me to write the next book, which I recently completed.

Everything inside me is saying ‘any Harry Potter book’. Just imagine how fun that would be! But, when I let my adult brain take over, I think I’d love to drop into Pride and Prejudice. To chat in person with Elizabeth Bennett would be awesome! She’s such a strong female lead. I love her character.

Thank you so much for your interest in Motley Education and for giving me this opportunity! I’m super excited.

 

Posted in Meet the authors

Patchen Barss

patchen.jpeg

Website: http://www.patchenbarss.com
Twitter: @patchenbarss
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patchen.barss

1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I have always liked to read. The house I grew up in was full of books, and when I was your age, I had a really great teacher who taught us all about grammar and structure in writing. So that was the year when I went from just enjoying good stories, to really starting to think about what makes them good. I don’t think I knew I wanted to be a writer yet at that age, but it was definitely when I started to learn how to do it.

2. What was your favorite story?
I remember one day telling my parents that I had just finished reading a book called No Flying In the House ten times in a row. The book is about a girl who discovers that she’s actually a fairy princess who can fly and do spells. I still remember strange little details like the fact that she could kiss her own elbow—that struck me as some amazing magic. As a grown-up, I still often have dreams at night where I can fly—just as I imagined it when I was a kid reading that book.

3. How do you get your ideas? You write science books, are they hard to research?

It does take a lot of research to write a book, but it’s always fun.

My job is to write about science in lots of different ways. I write for magazines, museums, and websites, as well as writing books. So I’m lucky—I get to talk to scientists all the time. They tell me about their new ideas and discoveries, and also about the questions they haven’t answered yet that are driving them crazy with curiosity.

I’m also a dad, so I’m always talking to kids as well. I’m struck by the way scientists and kids are curious about the same kinds of things—they try to figure out how the world works, test theories, make discoveries, revise their ideas. I try to find book ideas that encourage kids to be scientists, to pay attention to their own curiosity, and to try to figure out why the world works the way it does. (That’s a big theme in Flow Spin Grow.)

4. What author do you really like right now?
My own kids are six and seven years old, so our house is now full of picture books and chapter books. We’ve been revisiting some classics lately, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I don’t know if an author today would be able to publish a book that makes so little sense. But the book’s nonsense is full of cleverness, terrible puns, and iconic characters—the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts. I can read it over and over, and be completely confused and delighted at the same time.

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
One book we read recently that I really loved is Wicked Nix by a Toronto-based writer named Lena Coakley. By coincidence, it’s also about people and fairies. The main character, a fairy named Nix, seems at first to be up to some pretty normal magical mischief, but the story becomes mixed up with themes of memory and family. In the end, it’s still a magical story, but it’s a different kind of magic than you might expect.

6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can. Find other kids who also love books and writing and reading, so you can share your ideas and make up stories together. Go to bookstores and libraries and ask for recommendations. And, think about the things you’re most interested in—sports, dance, art, robots, movies, anything—and create stories about those things. I have always loved science and math, so it makes sense that that’s what I write books about. Find the things that you love to write about the most, and focus on those.

7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Hearing from readers is the best. As a writer, you tend to really care deeply about your subject matter. I have always found nature’s patterns fascinating and beautiful. I wrote Flow Spin Grow to share my passion with other people. I wanted to inspire kids to be scientists, to ask questions and satisfy their curiosity. Now I meet people or they send me notes talking about how they now see patterns everywhere. I feel great that I’ve had an effect on them. Even more, I’m just glad to know that there are other people out there who share my interests.

8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
This is a tough one. I like stories where writers create whole worlds—Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, etc. But those books tend to have lots of battles and villains and danger. I’m happy to read about those things, but I don’t actually need to be in there myself waving a wand or a sword around. (Honestly, I don’t think I’d last very long.)

But I do like being a part of stories where groups of talented friends accomplish great things together. So, I’m going to say that I would become a student in the Grade 2 classroom of Miss Lila Greer, in Andrea Beatty and David Robert’s great picture books, Iggy Peck, Architect; Ada Twist, Scientist; and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

Thanks so much for this interview—it’s very fun to think about these questions.

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Posted in Meet the authors

Wendy Ledger

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Author website/social media: wendyledgerauthor.com

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

I loved to read! I read as much as I could. The library was my favorite place in the world.

2.     What was your favorite story?

I loved Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I was fascinated by the idea of a young girl who carried a notebook around with her so that she could always write.

3.     How do you get your ideas?  

Oftentimes, my ideas come from a moment in my life. I wrote Joy Returns! because when I was young, I loved to play the piano. I also lived near a stable, and I had my favorite horses there. I wrote Kate and the Horses to remember the horses from my childhood. I wrote The Loudest Meow: A Talking Cat Fantasy because I had a calico cat who died suddenly, and I missed her, and so I wrote a book, imagining what she was doing in the afterlife.

4.     What author do you really like right now?

This is a classic that I had never read before, but I really loved it. It’s The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I listened to the audiobook version. It was really fun to hear.

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

Have you read Jessica Townsend’s books? I really liked Nevermoor; The Trials of Morrigan Crow, and I want to read Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow.

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

Write! If anyone says that you are not a writer or you can’t be a writer, don’t listen. Keep going. Write!

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

Yes, I love hearing from my readers. A writer can get lonely. You’re imagining all these things and creating stories on your own. It’s always nice to hear from others that they enjoyed what you dreamed up.

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

I would portal into my book, The Loudest Meow and spend some time with my calico cat and other cats that I’ve known.

Posted in Meet the authors

Debbie Reed Fischer

·  Author website/social media: www.debbiereedfischer.com

facebook: Debbie Reed Fischer, Twitter: @DebbieRFischer

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

At age 9, I absolutely LOVED to read! The characters in books were friends in my head. This may be because I grew up in foreign countries,and very often, there weren’t any television shows or movies in English. Books were my number one source of entertainment.

2.     What was your favorite story?

My favorite story was a true story of my mom’s childhood in Cuba, and how she found a way to get enrolled in the American School in Guantanamo at age 10 even though she didn’t yet speak English. Someday I may write about it. But my favorite book when I was nine was Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. I loved all the stories about his two dogs and growing up in the mountains. My teacher read it aloud to us every day after recess, and that twenty minutes of reading was the highlight of my school day

3.     How do you get your ideas?  Like why did you write a book about a 2E girl? (We are super ultra rares, limited editions so why us?)

I love this question! And yes, you are rare, like a beautiful blue diamond! I’m inspired by people and events from real life, as well as questions to which I truly don’t know the answer. I write the book to get answers, and, of course, to have fun. Doing anything creative is super fun! As far as why I wrote a book about a twice exceptional girl with ADHD, I didn’t have to look for inspiration. The author’s note at the end of my book explains the genesis of This is not the Abby Show in more detail, but in a nutshell, both my son and I have characteristics that are very similar to Abby’s. Another influence came from my teaching years. As a teacher, I had students who were twice exceptional, and I was inspired by them, as well as kids I knew from childhood. Also, at the time I wrote this book, I noticed there were no novels about middle school girls with ADHD. Only books with male characters that had ADHD existed, and I thought that was wrong. Both boys and girls should be able to see themselves in a book. I certainly didn’t see any Jewish main characters with this condition. So all of those factors influenced my ideas and journey when writing this novel. 

4.     What author do you really like right now?

I just read a young adult novel that hasn’t come out yet by my friend Alex Flinn, and I love it! It’s called Girls of July, It’s launching in just a few months.

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

Jonathan Rosen for funny middle grade vampire books. I think reading should be fun and entertaining, and he delivers. Dorian Cirrone is another favorite. It’s hard to put her last book down, The First Last Day.Danette Haworth. Brenda Ferber. Donna Gephart is very well-known, but I have to include her because I love her MG books. Christina Gonzalez too. I really like this question because I think both kids and adult should be book detectives and discover books that are terrific but not as well-known, even though they are written by talented, wonderful authors. If you read what everyone else is reading, you’ll think what everyone else is thinking, and it’s important to develop your own point-of-view. Books are the best way to do that, in my opinion. 🙂 

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

The best advice I can give isn’t original, but it works: read a lot and write a lot. That’s it. Also, reach out to authors you like on social media or write to them on their websites for inspiration. Ask them to do a Skype visit with your class or, if they’re local, visit your school. And never, ever give up. YOU CAN DO IT!

7.     As an author, do you hear from your readers? 

The number one best part of being an author is hearing from readers. It means the world. Any creative field is filled with disappointments sometimes, but knowing your book made a difference in someone’s life is an author’s dream come true. With This is not the Abby Show, I’ve heard from kids, parents, teachers, and siblings of children with ADHD and from kids who are Jewish. They say they’ve never read a character who was so much like them, and that they’ve read the book over and over because it resonated so much. I even get letters from doctors saying thank you because my book is helping patients and families. I recently heard from a mom who said her son went out and did stand-up comedy like Abby did in the book, and it changed his life. I Skyped with their ADHD support group and it was fantastic! I can’t adequately express how rewarding that is. All I ever hoped for was to get published and be someone’s favorite author because they could relate to what I was writing. My dream has come true. 

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

If I’m being honest, I mentally portal into my book-in-progress whenever I’m writing it. As far as books I’ve read, I would love to portal back in time, and my favorite historical book of fiction is Jane Eyre, so I would portal back into that novel. The character of Jane inspires me to stay strong, think for myself, and stand up for my convictions. I also like to laugh a lot when I read, so I’d portal my middle grade self into Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I think Greg and I would be friends. 🙂 I was honored that a reviewer from Booklist compared my book to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Posted in Meet the authors

Abby Cooper

    • Author website/social media: www.AbbyCooperAuthor.com, facebook.com/AbbyCooperAuthor, Twitter/Instagram: @_ACoops_
    • Tell me a little about yourself: Hi! I’m Abby, and I’m the author of STICKS & STONES (2016), BUBBLES (2017), and FRIEND OR FICTION (which comes out October 8, 2019!) I live in Minnesota with my miniature poodle, Louis, and lots and lots of books. I love to read and write. I was actually a school librarian before I became an author!
    • When you were my age (9), did you like to read? Yes! Reading and writing were my favorite things to do.
    • What was your favorite story? At that age, my favorite book was FRINDLE by Andrew Clements. That’s the book that made me a real reader. There was just something about it that made me so excited to read and write as much as I could. I think there’s a book like that for everyone. If you haven’t found yours yet, don’t give up!
    • How do you get your ideas? My ideas are a mixture of real-life inspiration and “what if” questions. I love to observe things in the real world and combine them with unusual or magical things.
    • What author do you really like right now? There are so many authors I love. Sally Pla is one of my favorites right now. She’s written two amazing books: THE SOMEDAY BIRDS and STANLEY WILL PROBABLY BE FINE. I just got a sneak peek at something she’s working on, and it’s awesome!
    • Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? Some new books I’ve read and enjoyed lately include PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN by Allison Varnes, IF THIS WERE A STORY by Beth Turley, and TIGHT by Torrey Maldonado.
    • What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read and write as much as you possibly can. Also, carry a notebook with you wherever you go! You never know where or when inspiratio
    • n will strike.
    • As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I do, and it makes me so happy! My goal is to write books that are fun to read but also make a positive difference in people’s lives. It means so much to me to find out when a reader has connected to one of my stories or characters.
    • If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? That would be so cool! I love Natalie Lloyd’s books and have always wanted to visit one of her settings. I think that would be a ton of fun.