The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes: An Interview with Wade Albert White

Today we have an interview with Wade Albert White about his upcoming debut middle-grade novel, The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes.   WWAT: Tell us about your book in a few sentences. Wade: Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children orphanage. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes—or face the horrible consequences. WWAT: Many of our readers are aspiring authors, so we’re curious to know how you became interested in writing. Wade: I’ve always been interested in storytelling to some degree or other. I attempted writing my first novel when I was in middle school on an old typewriter we had at home. I don’t recall getting very far, maybe five or six pages, but the spark for spinning a good yarn was definitely there. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at poetry, short stories, screenplays, and the like, but I’ve always been drawn back to writing books and finally realized that if I was ever going to write one I would actually have to make the time and do it  (because, oddly enough, books don’t write themselves—yet). WWAT: One of the hardest parts of editing is getting that first chapter just right. What was this process like for you in The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes? Wade: The first chapter is important, no question. That first sentence has to grab the reader’s attention right out of the gate. Then the first paragraph, the first page, the first scene, etc. It somehow has to find the balance between making things interesting while not overwhelming the reader with information they don’t need quite yet. Although there are obviously many, many ways to begin a story, I find that especially for middle grade there is a good argument to be made for beginning with a character—typically the main character. And this is what I did. I began with her just prior to a major transition that’s about to happen in her life (leaving the orphanage, the only home she’s ever known). I felt it was important to establish what her life has been like up to this point, but... read more

The Friendship Experiment: An Interview with Erin Teagan

Today we have an interview with Erin Teagan about her upcoming debut middle-grade novel, The Friendship Experiment. WWAT: Tell us about your book in a few sentences. Erin: The Friendship Experiment is about Madeline Little, a future famous scientist who relates to the world by writing standard operating procedures and following them. She’s thrown for a loop right before middle school starts–her grandfather dies, her best friend moves to the private school down the road, and Madeline starts showing signs of the blood disorder that runs in her family. It’s not long before Madeline discovers that she’s going to need more than an SOP to get through life’s challenges. WWAT: Many of our readers are aspiring authors, so we’re curious to know how you became interested in writing. Erin: I’ve always been interested in writing. When I was little, I had a ‘secret-stories’ notebook and when I grew up, I was so afraid I’d ruin the joy of writing by studying the subject in college and having the pressure of getting paid to write in the real world, that I went into science first instead (a completely obvious second choice, right?). It worked out well because when I wasn’t at work, I couldn’t wait to use the other side of my brain and write. WWAT: One of the hardest parts of editing is getting that first chapter just right. What was this process like for you in The Friendship Experiment? Erin: The first chapter is so hard. I like to have a ‘skeleton’ of a first chapter when I start a new project and then I make myself move on until I finish a few drafts of the book. The first chapter is so crucial. You have to intrigue your reader, elude to the problem of the story, introduce the setting, show the reader a likeable (but flawed) main character, all within a few pages! I used to get held up on the first ten pages, writing and rewriting them, trying to get them perfect before moving forward. I’ve since realized that for me, it’s better that I’ve fully fleshed out the novel and spent a lot of time with the story and characters before I can get the first chapter just right. WWAT: Your main character is a middle school girl who’s more comfortable in a science lab than in social situations. What helped you to understand her as you were writing? Erin: My background in science helped... read more

O to 60 Kidlit: YA Romance Meets Humor

@jennyhan     @HuntleyFitz ... read more

Giggle Cries: Tension Relief

Harry Potter and Steel Magnolia Spoilers Be Warned! Here is the movie clip:     The above is a famous scene from the film Steel Magnolias. Sally Field’s character, M’Lynn has just lost her daughter, Shelby (Julia Roberts) to diabetes complications, and she is extremely upset. Life is unfair and heartbreaking. Clairee is the comic relief that all of our hearts crave as she offers up the grumpy Ouisser to be hit. “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” – Truvy Jones Steel Magnolias—it’s mine too, Truvy J. Laughter is a gift. It stimulates, relaxes and restores a sense of well-being. We laugh out of surprise and we laugh when we feel superior. This is why humor is an important writing tool. As writer’s we need to take our readers through intense scenarios. We want them to struggle along with our characters on their journeys, but we don’t want to crush our readers. We have to surprise our readers when they least expect it, in the middle of tragedy and make them believe they can overcome it—that they are superior or okay ( Mrs. Baker says it best in Gary D. Schmidt’s The Wednesday Wars: “A comedy is about characters who dare to know that they may choose a happy ending after all.” J.K. Rowling has a lot of moments in her Harry Potter series for this. Including when George loses his ear in the final book. “Saintlike,” repeated George, opening his eyes and looking up at his brother. “You see..I’m holy. Holey, Fred, geddit?” Every genre requires the element of surprise. So try to surprise your readers with laughter. I will try to and I will leave you with my favorite Harry Potter cry giggle found in The Half Blood Prince. They are gathered around Bill Weasley’s bedside as his face had been mauled by Fenrir Greyback when Hogwarts was invaded by deatheaters. Everyone is also learning that the great Dumbledore has been killed. Throughout the whole book Mrs. Weasley has not been fond of her son’s engagement to Fleur Delacoure and then we readers get this beautiful surprise in which Fleur flips the script of her not wanting to marry Bill because of his looks to the ridiculous notion of him not wanting to marry her because the werewolf bites will cause him to fall out of love with her: “Dumbledore gone,” whispered Mr. Weasley, but Mrs. Weasley had eyes only for her eldest son; she began to... read more

Introduction and Inspiration

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