Friday, June 9, 2023

Author Interview: Jarrett Lerner, Author of A WORK IN PROGRESS

Guys, I recently had the chance to read Jarrett Lerner's new book and ask questions, and no surprise: neither he nor his new book disappoint - They are wonderful!


My Take:

This book is a profound and moving glimpse into what shame does to people; in this case, does to a young boy. Lerner’s writing and illustrations are genius, and this book is profound on so many levels. While this book deals with being overweight, the story applies to anything that makes a person feel othered and ashamed. Expect this one to earn lots of awards. It deserves it.

1.     Jarrett, you know I am a total fangirl – your work brings such joy and creativity to your readers — but A Work in Progress feels so personal.  Can you tell our readers about how you came to write the book?


Thank you! I’ve wanted to write the book for well over a decade now, and had been trying off and on every year or so. I could never get the story out of me in a way that felt authentic and complete and, you know, right. In a lot of ways, I don’t think I was ready. I think becoming a parent, understanding the importance of modeling vulnerability, the power of sharing the stories of our largest struggles – all that contributed to me finally being up for the task of finding the right words and drawings to get this story down on paper.




2.     The story begins with Will finding himself in the crosshairs of a bully — who no surprise has his own issues — and gets called out for his weight. I found this such a true moment, not just in your execution of the painful scene, but Will’s oblivion to the fact that he might be a little overweight. This is so true for kids: we’re going along in life, being loved by our parents, even being loved by other little kids unequivocally in the early elementary years, when suddenly it switches and you feel thrown to the wolves for no reason you can understand. How many times did you have to rewrite this scene? It is so viscerally painful, even as it so beautifully written.


I rewrote every word in the book more times than I can count. Every page of every book is the product of hundreds, even thousands of decisions – but this book was without a doubt the most difficult I’ve ever undertaken. This scene, though, the flashback that begins it all – I knew that had to be a focal point. It wasn’t always right there in the beginning. It was deep into the process that I realized the book, and Will’s story, needed to start with it. But it was always central. I think the hardest part about it was the framing. Giving readers a quick sense of who Will was before that moment, and then showing him who became after it, and how and why. A few years after the incident, Will compares that moment to an atom bomb going off in his life, wrecking everything in its path. The work was really making sure my readers felt every bit of that.




3.     We don’t read enough in novels about the impact shame has on kids, which is one of the reasons I love this book so much. We’ve all experienced shame in our lives, but kids are mostly not equipped to process and deal with it in an open way. How important was it to portray Will’s shame and really go there?



This is a great question, and I’m really glad you touched on this aspect of the story. I think shame – and/or the fear of experiencing shame – is one of the primary motivators for human beings. We’ll all do a whole lot to avoid embarrassment. And when we do get humiliated in some way, all bets are off when it comes to our reactions and responses. We’re liable to behave in ways we otherwise never would – maybe even in ways that are against are values and morals and best interests. I also think that all of us, to some extent, carry around and live with shame on a daily basis, and talking about it with kids can be powerful. It can be a productive path toward the opposite of shame: self-acceptance, and hopefully even self-love.




4.     It takes a long time for Will’s parents to clue in that something’s up, and I couldn’t help wondering if it’s because weight is such a taboo subject, even as overweight people are shamed mercilessly for what society deems their lack of self control. Was it hard to get the right balance in Will’s relationship with his parents?



 I didn’t want to portray Will’s parents in any way that they could be blamed for what’s happening to him. It’s way more complicated than that. It’s not that they’re not paying attention. I suppose you could say they could’ve asked more questions, sure. But tweens and teens typically aren’t the most forthcoming with answers, especially when the questions are about sensitive subjects. Part of the problem, too, is that Will puts a lot of creativity and efforts into hiding what he’s doing. He doesn’t want to be found out, and he’s a smart kid. He deploys those brains to deflect unwanted attention from his parents. I think, heartbreakingly, that everyone has something they’re dealing with. Something that troubles them, that can make what might otherwise be an okay or even a good day not so good. But a lot of that suffering happens silently. A lot of it hides in plain sight. I wanted to show that. And I hope I did it in a way that doesn’t leave my readers despondent, but instead compels them to be gentler with those around them, and to maybe, genuinely, ask each other how they’re doing once in a while. 




5.     I’m not going to lie: I cried multiple times reading this book, and not just because of how beautifully the story is written, but also how beautifully you’ve illustrated Will’s story. The pain jumps off the page because of your illustrations, which is amazing. Did you always intend for this to be a graphic novel?



I mentioned before how many attempts I made to get this story onto paper, and it wasn’t until I landed on this idea of framing it as Will’s notebook that it really started coming in a way that felt right. The book is modeled after my own notebooks that I kept when I was Will’s age. They were a chaotic collage of free verse (which I happened upon without even knowing there was a term for it, just because it allowed me to get my thoughts and feelings and ideas out onto the page faster, without worrying about complete or proper sentences) and drawings of varying completeness. The form was perfect for me and this story for a number of reasons, one being that I always like to use words and pictures if I’m able (it’s how I think, and how I most naturally create), and also because I think it helped make Will’s story as raw and true and potent as possible. Will doesn’t know anyone’s reading his notebook. He’s sharing his story incidentally. And I think, because of this, it lends a certain power to everything. Because of this, an enormous knotty scribble means something. It’s not performative. He doesn’t know he’s sharing it with anyone. He’s just trying to get it out of him, for some sort of release or relief. The form sort of strips away any barriers between us and Will’s naked thoughts and feelings. If he was narrating in prose, if there weren’t the notebook lines – basically, if the story was told in any other way – I don’t think it would hit anywhere near as hard as it does.





6.     I know this book is so personal for you, but you should be so proud, because a lot of kids are going to feel seen, whatever their issue is, and a lot of discussions and empathy are going to be created. There’s going to be some pretty powerful school trips and letters about this book! Are you ready for that? (Pretty sure I know the answer!)



It’s begun! I just returned from a tour surrounding the book’s release. I’m fortunate to have now shared and discussed it with thousands of kids and adults. It was terrifying, at first – but after just a couple sessions, all that fell away, and it just felt good. Really, really good. Getting up in front of people and being vulnerable, talking about your toughest, darkest times – it is, perhaps paradoxically, extremely empowering. And the kids have responded so strongly to it. At my launch part for the book, I asked a friend of mine – the great Lynda Mullaly Hunt – if she had any advice for me, as I was starting my school visits for the book the very next day and, as I mentioned, I was terrified. She told me to get up on stage and be as honest and vulnerable as I could possibly be. Be a wide-open book. She told me the kids would see that, and respect it, and tune in, and even reciprocate. And she was right. I’ve been so impressed and delighted by how willing, even eagerkids are to discuss all the issues broached in the book. It’s been remarkable, and yeah – I’m very proud and grateful I can serve as a role model for these kids, and I hope sharing my story, and Will’s story, helps ensure that their stories never get as dark or troubled as ours. 



7.     What’s next?



A summer of rest and relaxation! When I’m not working to hit my looming deadlines, that is. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m fortunate to have a whole bunch of books lined up for the coming years. I can’t wait to share.




Thanks Jarrett – both for writing an amazing novel that is going to help and support so many kids and for being such an ally for kids everywhere! Bravo!

want to learn more about Jarrett and his book? Click here.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Author Interview: Casey Lyall, Author of Gnome is Where Your Heart Is


Another great interview about a truly fabulous and unique book!

I got a chance to read an advanced reader's copy of this book and I was hooked from the first page all the way to the end!


Lemon Peabody is certain that aliens visited Grandpa Walt thirty years ago, but she's running out of time to prove it before he forgets his best story. This humorous and tenderhearted story about family, friendship, and always believing in yourself is for fans of Greg van Eekhout, Stuart Gibbs, and Hour of the Bees.

Lemon Peabody loves spending time with Grandpa Walt. Even though he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved to an assisted living facility, he’s still the same funny, loving grandpa he’s always been. One of Grandpa’s claims to fame is his story about meeting an alien years ago—and that it looked like a garden gnome. Ever since, it’s been something of a town-wide joke, and the cause of a rift between Grandpa and Lemon’s dad. Lemon is determined to find those extraterrestrial gnomes and vindicate Grandpa Walt—while Grandpa can still remember it.

Late one night, after seeing the flash of a spaceship during a storm, Lemon enlists the help of two friends to find out what might have crashed in the woods. But then the aliens find her, and nothing goes the way she expected. Lemon is sure she can convince the aliens to fix Grandpa Walt’s memory and bring back the grandpa she misses so much for good. But the aliens are dealing with problems of their own. With a little creativity and compassion, maybe they can all help one another.


1)   In the introduction to Gnome is Where Your Heart Is, you tell a delightful story about how the gnomes just "snuck up on you”, as did Walt and Lemon, two of the many fantastic characters that appear in the book. Clearly, your subconscious was sending you messages, because the idea of aliens fits so perfectly with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s – it often feels like something otherworldly has taken over our loved one’s body and it’s difficult for us to know if what they are telling us is grounded in reality. How soon did you realize that Walt and Lemon and the aliens had a heart story to tell?


The story started with the idea of garden gnome aliens and as soon as I started asking those questions that you always dive into when you’re trying to break down an idea — Why garden gnome aliens? Why are they here? Who are they here for? What’s the problem? — that was when Lemon entered the picture and with Lemon came Walt and the pieces started to fall into place and I said “Ah. This is the story.”


2)    Lemon struggles with being disappointed in her father, just as her father struggles with being disappointed with Walt. At times it feels like these dysfunctional relationships are bred in the bone. How important was it for you to really showcase the pain this family has experienced after Walt’s first contact?


It wasn’t a story that I set out to tell, but one that evolved as I got to know the characters. It became really clear that this was the path they’d travelled and I wanted to do my best to give justice to their story, especially the ways that they work on healing.


3)    Belief plays a huge role in the book, and we see some characters who are more open to believing in advance of proof (Lemon’s friends Marlo and Rachel) and those who simply cannot believe unless they see something with their own eyes (Lemon’s dad). How easy is it for you to believe in things?


I’ve always been big on the power of belief and being open to things. And if we want to specifically talk about believing in aliens? I just think that statistically, there has to be someone else out there. I’m definitely more of a Mulder than a Scully, haha!


4)    The beginning of the first chapter that alien Gnedley appears in totally cracked me up. I could almost hear Bruce Willis muttering under his breath. It turns out the aliens have their own trust issues. When did you decide that the aliens’ side of the story would be part adventure/part finding out who you can count on?


That storyline kind of evolved naturally. I wanted Gnedley to have something as interesting to grapple with as Lemon’s storyline was for her. I liked the parallels of both of them going on this adventure and finding out that not everything is what they thought it was. And that callback to the power of belief and trust for both of them.


5)    Lemon believes blindly, thanks to her total belief in Walt, but the book does a wonderful job of pointing out the cost of blind faith – both for the humans and for the aliens. Was that an issue you wanted to explore early on or did it just evolve organically?


That was another part of the story that definitely came together as I wrote. My focus is always on character over theme. I try to immerse myself in the character and let them tell their story how it needs to be told. Any theme that comes out of it is often a by-product of being true to the character. I just to my best to listen to them!



6)    Finally: An alien spaceship lands in your backyard tomorrow — are you getting on?


Oh, man – I’d have to really think about it! I’d definitely want to check it out and poke around, but I also don’t think I’d be ready to leave everyone and go on a space adventure and I feel like that would totally accidentally happen to me. Maybe I’d settle for smushing my face against the window and seeing what I could see…



Thank you, Casey! Loved the book so much!  



Monday, March 27, 2023

Author Interview: Jaime Berry, author of HEART FINDS

Heart Finds is such a fabulous book!

As soon as I finished the book - which I read in one sitting because it was such a good book - I knew I needed to talk about with author Jaime Berry!

And now of course I need to go back and read her debut novel, HOPE SPRINGS!

About The Book:

Eleven-year-old Mabel Cunningham is a quiet loner who only feels free to be herself when she's "extreme treasure hunting" with her grampa—much to her perfectionist mother's disapproval. Nothing excites Mabel more than discovering a heart find, an item that calls to her heart, and the maybes that come along with it.

But when her friendships start to crumble and her grampa suffers a stroke, Mabel quickly learns that real-life maybes are harder to handle than imagined ones. Desperate to change things back to the way they were, Mabel devises a plan that she believes will fix everything. Except bringing her plan to fruition means lying to her grampa and disappointing her mother.

Will Mabel learn that letting go of the past doesn’t mean letting go of her grampa and that embracing the future might be one of her most important heart finds yet?

The Interview

1.     Hi Jaime! Congratulations on writing such a fantastic book! You had me hooked from the very first line: “My grampa always says the best treasures are the ones that hide in plain sight.” It’s a genius first line, because it lays out exactly what your story is about, both thematically and plot-wise! Was it the book’s first line from the get-go?


Thank you so much, Wendy! That first line came about after many, many revisions and I’m so happy it drew you in. First lines are so hard, aren’t they? And finding one that hinted at the theme and my main character’s journey took several tries. I loved my original first line, but it wasn’t doing the work a really good opening line needs to do, so I think it’s now buried in the beginning of Chapter 3. But as Mabel learns some changes are necessary and sometimes even better in the end.


2.     I love the term heart finds — as soon as I read it, it resonated with me: that feeling of connection with a person, a place or thing that is so visceral it can’t be denied. But you play with the theme beautifully in the book, because sometimes we don’t recognize something in front of us as being a heart find straight away. Has that been your experience, too?


Absolutely, yes. In the first draft I was calling them “amazing finds” and it just wasn’t specific enough. I have my editor, Sam Gentry, to thank for pushing me to really think about what I was trying to get across—that sense of connection that resonates in one’s heart. The main character, Mabel, is sort of a lonely kid, and I wanted that term “heart finds” to hint at what she was really searching for, more connections that made her heart hum, and not just to places or things, but most especially to people who loved her exactly as she is.


3.     The main character Mabel is caught in the middle between her single parent mom and her beloved grandfather at the same time she is navigating the politics of middle school. Mabel is a quirky girl, an old soul, who you know is going to grow up to be the most interesting person in the room. But those kinds of kids often struggle in middle school and high school. How challenging was it to write the truth about a girl who colors outside the lines?


Having been a kid who often didn’t fit in and didn’t fully understand the social complexities of middle school, I feel Mabel and I might be kindred spirits. Getting to know my main character is normally something I figure out as I go, but Mabel came to me fairly easily. I felt I knew her well before I even started writing, but I found feeling that close to a character to be a bit tricky. There were certain scenes that were difficult to write! I almost felt guilty creating moments that I knew would hurt her, but also were necessary to force her growth and push her toward finding people who appreciated her uniqueness. 



4.     When Grampa gets sick, Mabel’s world is up-ended, a common experience for kids the age of your readers. Your write so movingly about this – did you go through something similar when you were young?


I was very close to my grandmother—this book is dedicated to her. She was unruly, funny, creative, and sure of herself. When we spent time together, that self-assuredness was contagious. She made me feel like I was her absolute favorite person in the whole world, and she was definitely mine. She passed away when I was a teenager and it was really difficult to figure out how to find my way back to that feeling without her. I think it’s also worth mentioning that I wrote a majority of Mabel’s story during the height of the pandemic—another time in my life when I felt, along with many others I imagine, completely off balance and uncertain of what the future held. I hope people who read the book come away with the message that when we’re knocked off our feet as Mabel is, it’s okay to struggle and make mistakes as we get back up.


5.     Mabel’s relationship with her mother evolves during the book, and we come to have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the character. While Mabel is caught between her mother and her grandfather, we realize the unfair position they’ve both put her in at times. It’s not something you see enough of in books, how kids are often victims of issues between parents and grandparents. Was that important for you to portray this?


You’re right, it’s not something we see very often in middle grade. In my experience, even the best of family relationships is complicated, and kids are often caught in the middle. Through the course of the book Mabel gains a deeper understanding of her mother’s relationship with Grampa and she learns that she’s misjudged them both a bit—Grampa isn’t entirely blameless, and her mom isn’t entirely to blame. One of the things Mabel says about scavenging for finds with Grampa is that it can be hard to figure out what to hold on to and what to let go—relationships can be that way too in a sense. But by the end of the book, I think they’ve all figured out a way to let go of a few things, to do a better job loving each other, and come to understand that maybe their most valuable heart finds are one another.


6.     When can we expect another Jaime Berry book?


I wish I knew! I’ve just finished up a draft of another tug-at-your-heart, contemporary middle grade—it’s still far away from having a specific publication date. But I feel so very grateful and lucky to get to write books for kids and can’t wait to get the next one into reader’s hands! Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat about HEART FINDS.

You are so welcome!

Want to learn more about Jaime Berry? Visit her beautiful website here!

Thursday, December 15, 2022



Confession: the author had me as soon as I read the title. While Indigo spells his last name differently than mine — McCloud versus McLeod — our last names are the same. So I had to learn all about his horrible sisters!


Indigo McCloud’s sister Peaches is every adult's favourite child: pretty, golden-haired, polite and charming. But the children of Blunt know better: Peaches and her three sisters are a gang of bullies who will stop at nothing to get their way.

This is the story of Indigo’s battle to stop his sisters. Leaping across the rooftops of Blunt, he tries to keep one step ahead of their wicked schemes –but he has to tangle with 437 hungry geese, an avalanche of toilets, curry farts, bungling policemen, vicious eels, a pig in a witch's hat, a three legged spider with a toilet brush and a dangerous villain in odd socks …

What I Thought

This book is HYSTERICAL. And sooooo dark. 

The story begins with the sisters terrorizing a neighbour children who is unwilling to do their bidding. 

Her punishment by the sisters is cruel, but also funny, a theme repeated again and again in the story.

But Indigo's had enough.

And when new neighbour Mandy Tripe and her family are terrorized by his sisters, he's had enough.

Cue an elaborate revenge plot where Peaches and her sisters get their comeuppance and Indigo and the neighbourhood children finally find peace.

Filled with cheeky humour and some very gross experiences, kids are going to lap this book up!

John Hearne has written a book worthy of the Roald Dahl canon.

Publishes February 7, 2023 by Little Island Books.

Want to learn more about the author? Click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Review: MELTDOWN by Anita Sanchez, Illustrated by Lily Padula


I don't know about you, but I'm worried about glaciers.

When I was a kid (back when the dinosaurs walked the earth) I was fascinated by these massive ice rivers that rolled through mountains I could only dream about. 

Eventually I grew up and got to visit the mountains, and finally, in 2014, got to set foot on the Columbia ice fields just north of Banff, Alberta in Canada. 

But when I drove past that same glacier just a few years later, it had shrunk considerably.

Which is why I jumped at the chance to read Anita Sanchez' s new book MELTDOWN: DISCOVER EARTH'S IRREPLACEABLE GLACIERS AND LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SAVE THEM.

Anita is an award winning author of environmental science and nature books for children and it shows in this book, which is clearly written and organized in a way that draws the reader in.

First we learn about glaciers and the role they play in our planet.

Then she explains how we know they are melting, which teaches the importance of data gathering and scientific techniques.

Then we learn why they are melting, which was way more complicated and interesting than I had anticipated.

There is lots of cool information about what scientists are finding and learning from our glaciers, and great information about plants and animals that rely on glaciers.

Then we reach the hard part: what will happen if all the glaciers disappear.

And finally hope: if we take action now, we may be able to mitigate some of the effects.

There's also tons of additional resources for more information, along with a bibliography and glossary.

What I thought

Books about climate change are never easy.

We are learning things we wish we didn't have to know. 

But it is especially important for kids to learn this information now, as they can help lead us into a brighter future. (And yes, Greta Thunberg is included in the book)

Sanchez explains things clearly and gives the reader hope, but is also very open about what's at stake.

Meanwhile, Lily Padula's illustrations are great and very evocative:

This book belongs in every home and library, and teachers need to use it to help explain what's happening.

Sanchez and Padula have issued a clarion call for action.

My hope is that tons of people read this book and do something about it.

5 stars!

Click on her name to learn more about Anita Sanchez and her environmental science and nature books!  

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Rabbit's Gift By Jessica Vitalis


I recently had the opportunity to chat with author Jessica Vitalis about her wonderful new novel, The Rabbit's Gift, which comes out October 25th! I loved this book so much!

What it's about:

Quincy Rabbit and his warren live a simple yet high-stakes life. In exchange for the purple carrots they need to survive, they farm and deliver Chou de vie (cabbage-like plants that grow human babies inside) to the human citizens of Montpeyroux. But lately, because of those selfish humans, there haven’t been enough carrots to go around. So Quincy sets out to change that—all he needs are some carrot seeds. He’ll be a hero. 

Fleurine sees things a little differently. As the only child of the Grand Lumière, she’s being groomed to follow in her mother’s political footsteps—no matter how much Fleurine longs to be a botanist instead. Convinced that having a sibling will shift her mother’s attention, Fleurine tries to grow purple carrots, hoping to make a trade with the rabbits. But then a sneaky rabbit steals her seeds. In her desperation to get them back, she follows that rabbit all the way to the secret warren—and steals a Chou.

Quincy and Fleurine have endangered not just the one baby inside the Chou, but the future of Montpeyroux itself—for rabbits and humans alike. Now, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other to restore the balance. 

Told from both Quincy’s and Fleurine’s perspectives, The Rabbit’s Gift will enchant fans of Katherine Applegate, Gail Carson Levine, and Anne Ursu.

The Interview:

1.     Hi Jessica! I absolutely adored The Rabbit’s Gift! It is one of the most creative fairy tales I have ever read!  Can you talk about your inspiration?

Absolutely! After writing The Wolf’s Curse, which I always thought of as my “death” book due to the Grim Reaper mythology, I really wanted to write a companion novel about birth, but for a long time I couldn’t think of anything appropriate for middle grade readers. Then a critique partner asked me if I was familiar with La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy), which is a short, silent film based on the French mythology that babies grow in cabbage plants. As soon as I watched the film (I highly recommend googling it!), I knew right away that I’d found the seed for my next story––one where human babies are grown in cabbage-like plants and delivered by rabbits!



2.     I love that the first time we meet Quincy, he’s sharing his perspective on heroes and villains and his realization that whether we considered someone (or ourselves!) one or the other depends on whose side we’re on. What made you want to state that up front?

When I first tried writing The Rabbit’s Gift, I thought I needed an omniscient narrator since that’s what I’d used in The Wolf’s Curse. But my critique partners kept telling me the voice sounded too much like Wolf, so I decided to write from dual points of view—a young male rabbit and a human girl. Rather than label one of them the protagonist and one of them the antagonist, I wanted to play with how perspective impacts the stories we tell. When I sat down to start writing, Quincy showed up and insisted on talking about heroes and villains, so I let him run the show!  


3.     An interesting through-line in the story is that both Quincy the Rabbit and Princess Fleurine are forced into roles because of circumstances beyond their control — his size, her being royalty. What message do you hope your readers will take away from their attempts to change that narrative?

One of the things I’ve noticed in my own life as a stay-at-home mom, writer, and introvert, is that when I spend too much time alone, my own problems or issues take on an oversized importance relative to the rest of the world. In The Rabbit’s Gift, Quincy and Fleurine are both so focused on their own unhappiness that they both make mistakes with grave consequences; it’s not until they start to put others first and think about the world around them that their lives start to change for the better. So I think one of the messages in this story is that true happiness rarely comes from trying to change things out of our control; rather, it comes from working to build strong relationships with our friends, family, and community, and by doing our part to try to leave the world a little better than when we found it. 


4.     One thing that you do so well is show how easy it is for the older generation (and some of the younger!) to say “Well, that’s the way it always is.” Change isn’t easy, but I hope this really encourages your readers to push for a better future!

I hope so, too! There is so much happening in the world right that that gives us all cause for concern; it can be easy to feel small and inconsequential when there are so many systemic problems that need addressing, but I hope young readers will grow up feeling empowered to ask big questions and search for big answers. 


5.     The need for cooperation is central to the story and brought to mind how much healthier our planet would be if that was happening more. Can you talk about that?

Absolutely! In The Rabbit’s Gift, human babies are grown in cabbage-like plants and delivered by rabbits. In return, they receive the purple carrots essential to their survival. This symbiosis is the theme upon which the whole story is built, and I hope it shines light on our own tenuous dependency on the natural world. Because the story was written in the first half of 2020, when our divides as a modern nation were coming into sharper relief than ever before, I also wanted to write a story that reminds readers that it’s not only our connection to the natural world that we need to mind, but our connections with each other—as family, as friends, as neighbors, but most importantly, as humans. 


6.     All of the characters are wonderful, but I adore Quincy!  How hard was it to write from a rabbit’s perspective?

On one hand, writing from Quincy’s perspective wasn’t all that difficult because I knew he needed to have the same type of character arc as all of my characters. And it was actually a lot of fun trying to envision seeing the human world for the first time from his perspective. On the other hand, I discovered while writing this story how little I actually knew about rabbits! For example, it wasn’t until I built their entire world around the rabbits needing nutritious purple carrots that I learned that carrots aren’t especially good for real rabbits due to their high sugar content. And I had no idea until after I’d already written certain scenes that rabbits are mostly color blind, are decent swimmers, and have an extra (clear) eyelid that allows them to sleep with their eyes open. Thankfully Angora Roux aren’t real rabbits, so I was able to take plenty of liberties for the sake of the story! 


7.     Finally: what’s next?

I’m glad you asked! My next book, Coyote Queen, publishes with Greenwillow/HarperCollins in the fall of 2023. Coyote Queen is the book of my heart, and the reason I set out to become a writer more than 15 years ago. It’s the story of a girl who enters a beauty pageant desperate to win the prize money to escape her abusive stepfather, only to discover that she’s turning into a coyote. Another (as of yet untitled) book will follow in 2024. 

Want to learn more about Jessica and her books? Click here!