I was thrilled to receive an advanced reader's copy of Lisa Schmid's debut middle grade novel, OLLIE OXLEY AND THE GHOST: SEARCH FOR THE LOST GOLD! And I knew I absolutely had to interview her for Middle Grade Minded readers and do a giveaway!!!
1. Tell us about Ollie Oxley and the Ghost
Twelve-year-old Ollie Oxley is moving-again. His mom is starting another new job, this time at the Bingham Theater in Granite City, California. Moving all the time means Ollie has struggled to make friends, but he quickly connects with a boy named Teddy. To Ollie's surprise, though, his first friend in town is a ghost. The two, boys take on the school bully, search for long lost gold, and ultimately help each other find their way home.
2. Where did the idea come from?
When I first started writing Ollie Oxley, I had just moved to Folsom, home of the California Gold Rush. My new neighborhood was steeped in local history. At the time, my son, Ollie was a baby, so we took a lot of walks. Just about every day something new would present itself that would lend to my story. For example, one day at the park, I met a modern-day prospector who told me about all the gold he had discovered in Folsom. He was even carrying a metal detector. On another day, I met a man whose home served as the town courthouse in the 1800s. Prisoners were tried on the first floor, and if convicted, they were taken to the basement to be hanged. This anecdote, of course, made it into my story.
3. Ollie and Teddy become buddies, but they also rib each other quite a bit. Tell us about how you developed your characters and why it was important for there to be some tension between them.
Ollie is never in one place for long, so he never makes any friends. Why bother? Over the years, he has built up walls to protect himself and uses sarcasm as a shield. Teddy, on the other hand, is just happy to have a friend who can see him. He's loyal, good-natured and determined to help Ollie. Slowly, he chips away at Ollie's armor, and they become best friends. Both boys are coming from a place of loneliness. It's their vastly different approach to the situation that makes for the perfect dynamic.
4. Aubrey is a very complex character in the story. We think she is one way and then discover she is another. Have we heard the last of her?
You haven't heard the last of Aubrey. I haven't decided what role she will play in the next book, but I'm curious to see how she evolves. I've toyed with the idea of making her and Ollie friends.
5. Have you ever had any ghostly sightings? Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes. I believe! I love visiting "haunted" places like the Whaley House in San Diego. It's rumored to be the most haunted house in the United States. I have toured the historic home a couple of times, hoping to see a chandelier sway or a spectral vision glide across the room. No such luck. But, to be perfectly honest, if I did see a ghost, I'd probably Scooby Doo it right out of there.
6. If you could be haunted by anyone, who would it be?
I am a huge Roald Dahl fan, so it would be nice to have him whispering in my ear when I write. Interesting story . . . On the day he died, I woke up, and my first thought was Roald Dahl is dead. I opened the newspaper, and sure enough, there was the announcement of his passing. Weird . . . Huh?
Wendy note: this gave me goose bumps!
7. What’s been the most surprising thing about being a debut author?
I love all my new author friends. I am a kidlit fangirl at heart. How we met is the perfect example. The fact that I was literally reading your book when you started following me on Twitter is crazy. I geeked out! I also love school visits. Kids are so authentic and full of wonder. Best of all, they still believe in magic.
8. If you have one piece of advice for our readers who are aspiring authors, what would it be?
Join a writer's organization that fits your genre. I wish I would have known about Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) from the get-go. It's an incredible resource, and I have met some of my best friends.
To learn more about Lisa, visit her website!
Want to win an ARC of OLLIE OXLEY AND THE GHOST?
Leave a message below telling me your favourite ghost!!!!