Monday, October 3, 2016

The Charming LIfe of Izzy Malone Author Interview and ARC Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have the chance to interview Jenny Lundquist, author of Seeing Cinderella, Plastic Polly, The Princess In the Opal Mask, The Opal Crown, and her newest book, The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, which comes out November, 2016 from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!x. I had a chance to read an ARC of The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, and I absolutely fell in love with the adorably flawed main character. Here’s an overview of this fast-paced middle grade:

Izzy Malone isn’t your typical middle schooler. The stars are her only friends, and she’s set a new record for trips to the principal’s office. The only place Izzy feels at home is on the open water. She dreams of rowing for the Dandelion Paddlers, a middle school rowing club. When Izzy’s antics land her in hot water, her parents enroll her in Mrs. Whippie’s Earn Your Charm School, where she receives a letter, a charm bracelet, and instructions for earning charms by performing a series of tasks.  Soon Izzy is adding charms to her bracelet. But when a task goes seriously wrong, she must make things right with the help of some unexpected friends. Can Izzy fix her mistake, become a Paddler, and Earn Her Charm?

Jenny Lundquist has generously donated an ARC to one lucky reader of this blog! (Keep reading for a chance to win!) She also was kind enough to answer the following questions about writing her latest book: 

1.      What was your inspiration for Izzy, your main character?  Is she based on any of your own middle school experiences?
Izzy definitely wasn’t based on any particular experiences I’ve had. I’ve always had a thing for charm bracelets (I have two of my own!) and I love how we use them to tell the story of our life: where we’ve been, our interests, things we’ve done, etc. While I was reflecting on this one day I thought about how great it would be if I wrote a story about a girl who used the charms on her bracelet to start building the story of her life.
I also have a thing for fall, and giant pumpkins.

(I mean, seriously, how can you look at a picture like this and not be inspired?)
So, a couple years ago I attended the Elk Grove Pumpkin Festival and watched their Great Pumpkin Regatta. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to watch people racing these ginormous pumpkins across the pond. I decided I wanted to figure out a way to add a giant pumpkin race into my charm bracelet story. Putting those two concepts together seemed kind of odd, but then it occurred to me: What if my main character was considered a little odd? I started brainstorming the plot from there, and eventually, The Charming Life of Izzy Malone was born.
In addition to all that, I use Pinterest boards to help me brainstorm. I keep a collection of images for each book I write and I refer to them when I need a little bit of inspiration. You can find Izzy’s board here.
2.     Studying the stars, rowing a giant pumpkin in a regatta, collecting charms for a charm bracelet…your book is chock-full of interesting plot twists that will definitely keep middle grade readers turning pages. Are you a plotter or a pantster? Where do you get your plot ideas?
I’m definitely a mix of both. I try really hard to outline a book before I’ve written it; but inevitably it falls flat when I actually start to write the first draft. While I can discover some major plot points just through the brainstorming process, a lot of it I have to figure out along the way. I had the hardest time plotting out Izzy’s story. By the time I finally sent in a synopsis and sample chapters to my editor I’d already written (and discarded) hundreds of pages. Really hoping all my next books won’t be so difficult!    
3.      Izzy shows great emotional growth in this novel, changing from a girl with only the stars for her friends, to someone with three good friends at her side. I loved this line: “Because maybe the best kind of friends are like stars: bright and beautiful, appearing in the darkness just when you need them, giving you a little bit of light on a dark night.”
Do you plot an emotional arc for your main character before drafting? Or does this arc develop over the course of several drafts?
That is one of my favorite lines, too! My emotional arcs develop over the course of several drafts. I seriously envy writers who are able to produce really strong first drafts. But for me, I don’t feel like I create a story so much as I “discover” it, sort of like how an archeologist digs for artifacts. I feel like I am unearthing a book, and merely telling a story that already exists.
Unfortunately, that means I need to write several terrible drafts before I can really start getting to know my characters and understand the emotional journeys my main characters need to take. By the time my editor sees my completed “first” draft, really it’s closer to my twentieth draft. I really wish I wasn’t such a messy, slow writer, but honestly, that’s the only way I know how to do it.
4.     The Charming Life Of Izzy Malone ends with Izzy and her friends Daisy, Violet, and Sophia starting a Charm Girls club. It feels like the girls will keep meeting and having adventures! Any chance readers will have a chance to meet these girls in a sequel?
Yes! Right now I’m working on a sequel to Izzy, which will be told from Violet’s point of view. It’s slated for Fall of 2017 and will be titled The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby. I can’t say a whole lot about the plot right now, but the details should be released in a few months here on Goodreads.

Thank you, Jenny!
If you'd like a chance to win an ARC of The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, enter a comment below. A winner will be drawn at random.





  1. Great interview!! This story sounds ADORABLE! I loved the inspiration and that line, too!! (-: Definitely on my MG Want List!! <3

  2. Sounds like a really fun story! (I have a friend who grows enormous contest-winning pumpkins, but I've never heard of a pumpkin regatta! Crazy!) :D

  3. I love Jenny Lundquist's books, and this one sounds delightful!

  4. This book sounds incredible! I can't wait to read it!

  5. This looks so, so cute! I love her books.

  6. Thanks for the comments! The winner has been drawn! Congrats to Jen Petro-Roy!

  7. Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here.