In just one week, you will finally be able to get your hands on a sprinkle-covered treat. A cherry-topped sprinkled treat.
The author of that treat, Lisa Schroeder, was kind enough to answer a few questions as we await the release of her latest.
This line, from the Kirkus review of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS, would make me want to roll in it if I were you: “Schroeder skillfully evokes the turbulence of pre-adolescence as she explores the delicate balance of being a true friend while remaining true to yourself.”
That’s what all the best middle-grade books do! (Congratulations!) So, what are some of your favorite midde-grade novels?
I am a huge fan of Kate DiCamillo. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. I just think she gets so many things right in that book. And THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT inspired my upcoming fantasy MG (currently untitled) in a round-about way. I just adore her writing. Other favorites would be Tracie Vaughn Zimmer’s novels, REACHING FOR SUN and THE FLOATING CIRCUS; A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT by Linda Urban; and PRINCESS FOR HIRE by Lindsey Leavitt.
I find the territory you explore in IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES and SECRETS AND SPRINKLES–especially the friendships–absolutely delicious. What drew you to write about characters this age and their relationships? I know you also write young adult fiction. Is it always clear to you at the outset which genre a story will be? Have you ever knocked up against that cusp, that middle grade/young adult divide?
My first novel I wrote was a middle grade. And my second and third ones too. They just weren’t good enough to sell. When I think back to growing up, the strongest memories I have of reading and books is during that time when I was 8-12. I loved books SO much then. I can still remember the first time a book made me cry – where I was, how I lay on my bed for a long time after, so sad the story was over (WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, if you’re wondering). So, I think it’s natural that I love books for that age group. I may even be more suited for writing books for that age group than I am for young adults, I don’t know.
I think kids in that age group are learning they have different thoughts, opinions, and dreams from those they are close to. And it can be hard figuring out what that means, if they’ll still care about you, and so much more. I can clearly remember being 7 or 8 and going to my best friend’s house and having her tell me, I don’t want to play right now, sorry. I was crushed. It seemed so personal! And why wouldn’t she want to play with me when I wanted to play with her? There’s a lot happening in those years leading up to the teen years, and I just love exploring it in my writing.
As for YA, yes, I always know if a book is going to be YA or MG. Where MG books are about kids realizing they have wants and opinions separate from family members and friends, YA is more about how they see the outer world and where they fit into that bigger world.
Having said that, though, I think the lines of who is reading what are blurring. I have kids in 6th and 7th grade reading my YA books, because some kids that age are ready for some of the themes explored in my YA novels. It can be hard for those middle school kids to find books they like. I think your new novel, Audrey, is going to appeal to those middle school kids a lot! I sometimes wish bookstores would create a section for “tweens” because it can be really difficult for them to find books!
How did you come to write a sequel? Did you enjoy the process? Will there be another book?
Well, I made a mistake when I wrote the first one. I left one thing unanswered – I thought it would be fun for kids to use their imagination as to what happened. Well, I heard from many, many kids who were not happy with me. I felt so bad! I’ve learned this age group wants everything tied up as nicely as you can!! Anyway, the only thing I could do at that point was write another book, and see if my publisher would want to publish it. I actually proposed a sequel with Isabel as the main character, and she suggested a book from Sophie’s point of view (Isabel’s best friend). So that’s what I ended up doing (after I figured out a plot, which took a while). SPRINKLES AND SECRETS is actually called a “companion” but lots of people are calling it a sequel, and that’s okay. The important thing is that readers WILL have that one question answered they’ve been dying to know about. The nice thing about a companion is that someone can pick it up without having read the first book, and they’ll have a book that stands on its own. I really loved writing another book about Isabel and Sophie. I love these characters, so yeah, I enjoyed the process a lot.
As for another book, I would love to. But it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards at this time.
Oh yeah, so many friendships. I mean, I wanted to live with Ma and Pa Ingalls at times, and have Laura and Mary as my sisters. I wanted to have Mrs. Piggle Wiggle as my neighbor, or even my mother. I wanted to have Betsy and Star as my friends (well, maybe only Betsy, I think Star was the young one). Also, I’m pretty sure I had an intense crush on Encyclopedia Brown. I could NOT get enough of those books. I loved trying to solve the mysteries.
What are you working on now?
I just turned in the first round of revisions on my fantasy MG that I sold to Holt six months ago or so. There will be more rounds, and they hope to get an illustrator to do some illustrations, so I think the release date is a ways out. And, because I can’t seem to take a break even when I tell myself – okay, take a break – I’ve started a new YA that is very different for me. I’m having fun, and that’s the most important thing for me when I’m starting a new project. I write to entertain myself. What happens after that is icing on the cake. 🙂
Thank you, Lisa!
You can learn more about Lisa Schroeder and her books by visiting her website.