Since January 2021, I’ve been sharing interviews with amazing authors and illustrators who are both creative and generous. Today, I’ve brought back three wonderful middle grade authors who each have a new book to celebrate. One book is a sequel, one is a guide to middle school that we all wished we had, and one is a second stand alone mystery. What do they all have in common? They’re amazing and written by fantastic authors. Did I mention how generous they are? One lucky winner (US only) is going to have three shiny new books to read. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win.
Help me welcome, Fleur Bradley, author of DAYBREAK ON RAVEN ISLAND, Alda P. Dobbs, author of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER, and Jessica Speer, author of MIDDLE SCHOOL – SAFETY GOGGLES ADVISED.
Did knowing how much readers loved your last book, impact the writing of your new book?
Fleur: Thank you for having me again on your blog! No, I make it a point for the writing not to be influenced by marketing or reviews, or anything like that. I just focus on writing a book that twelve year-old Fleur would’ve enjoyed; I find that’s the best and most enjoyable way to work. It does help encourage me when I get kid fantail — I post one drawing or letter every day on social media to remind me who I’m writing for. School visits are great motivators too, as are award nominations and other good news. But you don’t control that and months can go by without any good news to bolster your spirits, so I try to be my own cheerleader most days.
Alda: Thank you, Laura, for featuring me as well as many other wonderful authors on your amazing blog. I’m humbled by how much interest my great grandmother’s story has garnered. There was a sort of pressure about how the story in THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER would unfold since it’s a follow up to the fast-paced BAREFOOT DREAMS OF Petra Luna. However, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER allows readers to take a breath and see a different side of Petra and her family now that the federales are no longer persecuting them. In this story we learn if Petra truly fulfills her promise and her dreams to learn to read and write.
Jessica: Thanks for hosting this giveaway and having me back. Yes, I’d heard that kids really liked the quizzes and interactive parts of BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends). So MIDDLE SCHOOL – SAFETY GOGGLES ADVISED also has quizzes, plus choose-your-own-ending stories, and other ways that readers can interact with the book.
What do you hope readers will take away from your new book?
Fleur: I hope kids will feel less alone, and will be encouraged to share any problems or secrets they have. All three kid characters in DAYBREAK ON RAVEN ISLAND, who become unlikely friends, have something they’re wrestling with. Tori is sad and angry because her brother is in prison, Noah misses his mom who died the year before, and Marvin is determined to make a movie, something he was supposed to do with his friend who moved away. It’s not until they share their struggles and start to work together that they solve the mysteries of Raven Island.
Looking back now, I realize I was delving into the theme of loneliness because I wrote the book during Covid lockdown. I was trying to make sense of what it means to be lonely, and how important connecting with others is to all of us.
Alda: I want readers to realize how similar we all are and how our ancestors faced many challenges when coming to this country. In THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER, Petra has a mentor, Sister Nora, an an Irish nun who brings her backstory of escaping the Irish famine. Both Petra and Sister Nora experienced hunger, oppression and strife as children in their native lands. They then endured unfathomable conditions to escape these adversities, and despite having reached America – the land of plenty –many more challenges awaited them. It’s a universal story that transcends time and cultures.
Jessica: My hope is that readers of MIDDLE SCHOOL – SAFETY GOGGLES ADVISED come away knowing that they are awesome, just as they are. An added bonus — that they have a better understanding of themselves, their fellow humans and how to inspire change.