We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. One author, four questions. Today we’re talking to Lauren Magaziner, MG author of THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

The quick pitch:

THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES is a humorous middle grade fantasy. Like if Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES and Louis Sachar’s WAYSIDE SCHOOL had a wonky, silly, and slightly twisted lovechild.

The forever-and-a-half version:

Rupert Campbell hates Mrs. Frabbleknacker so much that he would rather be gummed to death by toothless bunnies than sit in her fifth grade class. She forbids Rupert’s classmates from talking to each other before class and after class. Worst of all, she trades dissected frog guts to Gliverstoll’s resident witches in exchange for gruesome potions, which she likes to test on her students.

So when Rupert sees an ad to become a witchlings’s apprentice, he knows that the job is an ideal after school pick-me-up and a surefire way to make a friend. Witchling Two is the battiest person Rupert has ever met, with a hankering for lollipops and the magical aptitude of a toad.  She can turn sweaty socks into chicken pox, but she can’t conjure up a simple milkshake—which is completely useless, in Rupert’s opinion. And unless Rupert can help Witchling Two improve her spell-work before her Bar Exam, she’ll be stripped of her powers and forced into exile.

But once the Witches Council finds out that one of their own enlisted Rupert’s help, he is in grave danger—especially from the notorious head witch, The Fairfoul Witch, who would love nothing better than to boil his knuckles into Knuckle Soup (which tastes like very crunchy clam chowder).  It’s up to Rupert to do it all: help Witchling Two, avoid the Witches Council, bamboozle his witch-fearing mother, and complete Mrs. Frabbleknacker’s 500,000 word essay on worms!

As for some fun and interesting facts:

1.  One of Rupert’s classmates (But I won’t say which one!) is an extremely exaggerated caricature of a certain best friend of mine.  And that character might just be my favorite of Rupert’s classmates.
2.  I wrote it while studying abroad in Edinburgh… in some of the legendary cafes where JKR wrote Harry Potter! See the picture (to the left) of the city that inspired all my witchy thoughts!
3. I wrote the first draft in two months, which is one of the fastest drafts I’ve ever done. (But surprisingly, not the fastest!)
4. I stole the name of the Head Witch (The Fairfoul Witch) from a gravestone in St. Andrews, Scotland.
5. The book officially sold to Penguin on 11/11/11.  Talk about a LUCKY DAY!

Where did you get the idea for this story?

In the end of March 2011, I had been living in Edinburgh for three months, and the castles, myths, ghost tours, and history were starting to seep into my thoughts.  I wanted to write a witch story—a good, original, cackly witch story.  I tried to set the story in Edinburgh with a dark narrative voice, but it wasn’t working. I could tell something was off, but I didn’t know what.

Flash forward two weeks, and I was taking my spring break in Italy.  I was in Positano with a friend, which is the most beautiful place ever.  On the morning of departure, my friend and I decided to take a taxi to the Naples train station (instead of catching a bus to catch a bus to catch a train to Naples.  Yeah, Positano is remote).

As soon as we stepped into the cab, my friend fell asleep, and I was all alone in a speeding taxi as it rounded the bends of the Amalfi coast at speeds that were probably not legal.

I kept looking behind me, watching Positano get further and further away as the taxi got closer and closer to the edge of the cliff.  I clung to the car door for dear life and thought, What a beautiful place to DIE! WAHHHHHHH!

And then everything clicked.  Instead of watching my life flash before my eyes, I thought of Rupert, the eager fifth-grade apprentice to a witch—no, a witching! A silly, garbled witchling. And of course, they lived in a seaside town, built into a rocky mountain—with a view like Positano.  And this rocky seaside town had resident witches, plenty of them… a cackling hoardeful!

Later, I found pen and paper—and scribbled down a few pages.  Three days later, I wrote the first chapter (which is now the third chapter) in the air on a turbulent budget airline flight back to Edinburgh.  (Nothing like near-death vehicles to get me inspired!)

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

SPOT ILLUSTRATIONS. Can I say that with any more enthusiasm?!?! (Hint: probably not!!!)  I can’t WAIT to get an illustrator—for the cover and the insides.  There are some funny action sequences and slapstick moments, and I am excited to see how that translates into illustrations. Illustrations have the ability to transform a book into a much more visual experience!  And I’m psyched because if I did my own illustrations, they’d look like this:

(Aka terrible.)

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • I’m a recent, proud graduate of Hamilton College!  (Also the college of authors Sarah J. Maas and Meagan Spooner. HamiltonKidLit represent!!!)
  • I’ve been writing books since I was thirteen, and I’ve completely lost count of how many complete manuscripts I’ve written. I’m thinking maybe it’s about 10ish total… maybe?
  • I once broke my arm tripping over my shoelace.
  • I’m OBSESSED with Harry Potter to an unhealthy degree.  I have memorized the first three movies, quote book lines at any/every opportunity, and I even ran a Harry Potter and Philosophy discussion group at my college, where we debated the ethics of magic, the metaphysical problems of separating the “soul” from the original body via Horcruxes, and whether which house you’re in can influence the person you grow to be (would Voldie have been a softie as a ‘puff?  Do we, as Dumbledore says, sort too soon?). Deep stuff, dude!
  • I’m also obsessed with Doctor Who.  (10th Doctor, obviously.  Molto bene!)
  • And I’m obsessed Avatar: the Last Airbender.
  • Actually, just color me a generally obsessive fangirl of all fandoms.
  • People tell me I have a great Gollum impression.  (No, I can’t do it for you here because the Internet is forever, preciousssssss.)
Lauren Magaziner is a 4th grader at heart, watches entirely too much TV, and loves to steal people’s toes to make Toecorn, which tastes like very chewy, meaty popcorn. Only one of those things is true. (Okay… you caught me. They’re all true.) THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES—about a boy who secretly becomes a witchling’s apprentice in a town full of dangerous witches who love Toecorn—is forthcoming from Dial/Penguin in Summer 2014.

Mary McCoy: DEAD TO ME

Today we’re talking to Mary McCoy, whose debut novel DEAD TO ME will be published by Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2014. 

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

DEAD TO ME is a YA crime noir set in 1940s Hollywood, because how could it not be? Even if I’d set out to write a romance novel set in 1940s Hollywood, it probably would have ended up with a body count.

The book is about a 16-year-old girl named Alice who is investigating the attempted murder of her older sister, an aspiring actress-turned-teen runaway. Along the way, however, she uncovers something even more sinister.

It’s full of nifty little tidbits about Golden Age Hollywood, glamorous night spots (and less glamorous flophouses), notorious crimes, and corruption in high places. I spent a lot of time digging through old microfilm and maps and photographs so I could get the atmosphere just right.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

My parents are actually much cooler than I am – my dad is a beekeeper who can fix anything and my mom has a cake decorating and cookie-making business. As for me, I’m a librarian who wears too much black and owns too many pairs of boots. I had a misspent rock and roll youth, during which I was a bass player in several bands of little to no renown, and I once appeared in an episode of History Detectives on PBS.

Also, I never met a cheese plate I didn’t like.

Do you have any writing quirks–places you need to write or things you need to have with you?

I love baseball, so between April and October I usually have a game on in the background when I write. I’m lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, which means that sometimes the baseball announcer is the brilliant Vin Scully, who has been calling Dodgers games since 1950. Just the sound of his voice is a surefire cure for writer’s block. I believe that if an 85-year-old man can spin a baseball game into poetry the way that Vin always does, I can certainly sit down and write a few lousy pages.

What are your desert island books?

These are the books that I’ve read and re-read, and even though I almost know many of them by heart now, they teach me something new (about life and about writing) every time I read them:

The BFG by Roald Dahl, The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter, Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, The Owlstone Crown by XJ Kennedy, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, The Old Forest by Peter Taylor, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (incidentally, Fitzhugh was Peter Taylor’s niece – I love that two of my favorites are related), The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and I, Claudius by Robert Graves.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t include The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. I’ve had the same copy since high school, and I still use it frequently, habitually, recurrently, customarily, often, and as a common thing.

Mary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. Her debut novel, DEAD TO ME (Disney-Hyperion, Fall 2014), is a YA mystery set in the glamorous, treacherous world of Golden Age Hollywood. She likes new dresses and old cookbooks.

GETTIN’ LUCKY: An interview with Elsie Chapman, author of DUALED

dualed_final_heroToday, we’re happy to interview Elsie Chapman, author of DUALED, which releases today!  Here’s the blurb.

Two of you exist. Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

DUALED has a fascinating premise. Everyone is born with an Alternate, and they have to kill their Alt in order to survive to adulthood. How did you come up with it?

My son asked me out of the blue one day how did we know for sure we all didn’t have an other out there and just didn’t know he or she existed. The question was the spark, so to speak, and then I started thinking about what it could mean if only one of the pair could continue to exist.

If you were activated today, how would you go after your Alt? And which of your weaknesses could your Alt exploit to kill you?

I think I’d have to rely on being sneaky or tricky because I’m not physically coordinated enough to pull off much in terms of direct action. For my Alt, all she’d have to do is scare me by pretending to be a ghost or something. Anything supernatural scares the crap out of me.

West is a great shot with a gun, and a less impressive knife thrower. Do you have any real life weapons experience?

Not at all. I can barely cut vegetables without hurting myself. Even my kids can’t watch me handle a knife without cringing. And I’ve never held a gun in my life (unless water, nerf, or glue guns count).

Death and killing obviously play a central role in DUALED. And it occurs in many contexts. Sometimes people die so that their Alt can live. Other people die accidentally as “peripheral kills” when Alts are battling each other. And yet others are killed by strikers, hired by their Alts to do their dirty work for them. As you were writing this, what were your thoughts about portraying killing and its ethical implications in all its different contexts?

I guess writing all those death scenarios was my way of exploring human loss and all the ways we learn to cope with it. So it was more the aftermath I was interested in looking at, versus the act itself that led to it, whether it was a direct killing or an accidental death.

What’s your best advice for writers in the 1) drafting stage, 2) querying stage, 3) submission stage and 4) post book deal, pre-release stage?

1) Drafting stage: Write what feels right, not what you think you should be writing. It’s smart to pay attention to the market if your end goal is to be published, but don’t it be what drives you.
2) Querying stage: It’s okay to get down about rejection, and you will be rejected. The important thing is finding a way to move past it and keep writing. It only takes one agent to love your book.
3) Submission stage: Same as above, except it can be even harder because mentally, you’re always thinking, this is it, this is the last stop. Which isn’t necessarily true since there’s lots of houses to which your agent can submit your manuscript. But it’s hard to remember that, so just work on something new while you wait. Whatever it takes to keep from going crazy.
4) Post book deal, pre-release stage: Goodreads is not your friend, and you’ll save yourself a lot of mental anguish by staying away. You also don’t need to be reading reviews, good or bad, because none of that will help with your writing (and if there is anything you do need to see, your editor will let you know). Enjoy the good stuff because there’s going to be a lot of it, and do your best to let the not-so-good stuff roll off your back. Getting published is an incredible thing, and there is a reason why you’re getting published. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

Instead of picking just two or three individual books, I can tell you what authors I used to always look for in the library. I loved Christopher Pike as a kid, also VC Andrews, Lois Duncan, and Stephen King. I read anything they wrote, they were my go-tos.

Livia Blackburne is a fantasy writer and recovering neuroscientist. She wrote her debut MIDNIGHT THIEF while conducting her dissertation research at MIT on the neural correlates of reading in children. She blogs about the intersection of psychology and writing on her blog A Brain Scientist’s Take on Writing.


We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. One author, four questions. Today we’re talking to Robin Talley, YA author of LIES WE TELL OURSELVES.

What’s your debut book about?

Here’s a summary:

It’s 1959, and 17-year-old Sarah Dunbar is the first black student to integrate the all-white Jefferson High School in Davisburg, Virginia. No one wants her there. Hundreds of white students line the school halls, screaming, spitting, and throwing rocks at Sarah and her friends.

When Sarah meets Linda Hairston, the two girls have every reason to hate each other. Linda’s not only white ― she’s the daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. But the world is changing fast. And whether they like it or not, Sarah and Linda are changing too. Both of them are beginning to feel something they’ve never felt before. And they’re both determined to ignore it.

Because it’s one thing to be frightened by the world around you ― and another thing altogether when you’re terrified of what you feel inside.

Did you do a lot of research for your book?

Quite a bit! I spent months researching the history of school desegregation and life in the 1950s before I wrote the first word of LIES WE TELL OURSELVES. This included a lot of listening to oral histories, reading newspaper archives, and pouring through vintage high school yearbooks.

For a taste of it, here are some of my favorite photos from 1950s yearbooks:

(If you love this sort of thing as much as I do, I posted some more vintage yearbook photos here.)

Where did you get the idea for this story?

I was first inspired to write LIES WE TELL OURSELVES during a road trip with my parents. We were talking about their school days back in the 1950s and 60s, and the conversation turned to their fears that the schools would be closed due to the state government’s efforts to resist school desegregation.

Both of my parents were students in all-white Virginia high schools during integration. They both saw first-hand the torment that the few black students in their schools were subjected to. These were stories I’d never been taught in history classes, even though I grew up in Virginia too.

I did some research and discovered just how well-organized opposition to the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board desegregation ruling had been throughout the South, especially in Virginia. In the city of Norfolk, 10,000 students missed out on half a year of their educations ― because the governor closed down the white schools rather than let 17 black students into their classrooms.

I wondered what it would’ve been like to be one of those 17 black students. And what would happen if you were dealing with that ― and if you were gay, too. In 1959, being gay wasn’t something you could tell anyone about. Not unless you wanted to risk everything.

By that point, I was sucked in. I had no choice but to write Sarah’s story.

Do you have any tips for beginning writers?

Figure out what works for you, and do that. There are a million writing guides out there ― books, articles, podcasts, videos, conferences, crit groups, you name it. None of it is useful unless it works for you. Try different tricks and techniques until you find what works, and then stick with that. Don’t second-guess your own instincts.

Robin Talley lives in Washington, D.C., with her ornery cat and her opposite-of-ornery fiancée. Robin’s debut novel, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES (Harlequin Teen, September 2014), follows a black girl in 1959 Virginia who’s the first to desegregate an all-white high school, and winds up falling in love with a white girl in the process. Robin tweets at @robin_talley.

Whitney Miller: THE VIOLET HOUR

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. One author, four questions. Today we’re talking to Whitney Miller, YA author of THE VIOLET HOUR.

Hey, you’re getting published! What was your path to publication?

A little over four years ago, I started a job that requires me to commute by bus for two hours every day. Ugh, right? Well…maybe not! I decided I would use that time to pursue something creative. I’d always wanted to write, and I’d just gotten sucked into TWILIGHT (yes, I’m one of those). I started spending my time on the bus writing. A year later I got my agent (Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary) and the rest was history. Well, the rest was a lot of late nights, drafting, re-drafting, throwing things at the wall, and re-drafting again. But you get the basic idea.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

The “pitch”: Harlow Wintergreen is keeping a dark secret. The daughter of a charismatic cult leader, she hears a sinister voice that whispers to her, showing her visions of a dizzying, blood-soaked alternate reality. When those visions begin to literally bleed into reality, Harlow must choose to either  expose the evil within or endanger her family, her friends, and the boy she loves.

The “cool” factor: THE VIOLET HOUR takes place all around Asia – Japan, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I adore international adventures in real life, and I love to take readers on them in book life!  TVH also has a hot, broody love interest with mysterious tattoos all over his body. So there’s that, too.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

This is going to sound weird, but writing the acknowledgements. They’re my favorite part of every book, and I always read them first. I am determined that, if nothing else, my debut will set the gold standard for acknowledgement writing. 😉

What are your desert island books?

Obvi I have to choose TWILIGHT as one, because it’s what set me on this life-changing journey and it’s the only book I’ve ever read more than twice. It’s also the only movie I’ve seen shmershmer times, but we won’t get into that. On to that I’ll add A WRINKLE IN TIME, A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, and THE BOOK THIEF. On to that I’ll add an e-reader with unlimited adds because you didn’t specify any rules and I can’t be stuck on a desert island with only four books.

It’s been so fun talking to you. Thanks for having me!

Whitney Miller lives in San Francisco with her husband and a struggling houseplant. She’s summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, ridden the Trans-Siberian rails, bicycled through Vietnam, done the splits on the Great Wall of China, and evaded the boat police in Venice, but her best international adventures take place on the page! Her YA Horror THE VIOLET HOUR drops in March 2014 from Flux.


We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. One author, four questions. Today we’re talking to Bethany Crandell, YA author of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS.

Bethany CrandellWhat’s your debut book about?

Here’s the Goodreads synopsis: Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell.

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there’s life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she’s ever had.

Can you share any cool details with us?

No way! You have to read for all the juicy tidbits. I can tell you though, that it’s highly irreverent and painfully honest. Chances are you’ll feel a little uncomfortable at certain points, but you’ll hear yourself laughing none the less.

What do you do in your daily life outside of writing?

I watch a lot of TV, eat more guacamole than is healthy, and complain about things. My most recent gripe is that my favorite grocery store is closing. It may seem insignificant, but I’m all about routine. Dropping me into an unfamiliar place with an empty cart and a self-imposed, 45 minute or less deadline, is my own personal purgatory.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

It’s probably cliché, but walking into the book store and seeing my little book on the shelf. That’s going to be pretty exciting—and overwhelming.

What inspires you to write?

A better question would be what doesn’t inspire me to write. My two girls are the obvious go-to, but my husband, my spatially-challenged dog, my boss, the homeless dude by the 7-Eleven, a jaw-dropping sunrise, or bowl of guacamole…I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. The key is using it for got instead of evil…

Bethany Crandell and her husband Terry live in San Diego with their two daughters and a chocolate Labrador who has no consideration for personal space. She writes Young Adult novels because the feelings that come with life’s ‘first’ times are too good not to relive again and again. SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS is coming spring 2014 from Running Press.


Today, we’re talking to Sarah Combs, author of BREAKFAST SERVED ANYTIME. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication)

My story was conceived in the waning hours of November 30, 2010, during what my husband and I refer to as “Adult Swim,” i.e. the golden part of the evening when our two young boys are safely asleep and we haven’t yet collapsed ourselves. We were musing about the upcoming year and my husband wondered aloud: Are you gonna write that book, or what?

I remembered an announcement that had lately arrived in my Inbox—something about a YA Novel Discovery Contest, the requirements for which were still, in that moment, within the realm of possibility: Before midnight on November 30, submit only the title and first 250 words of a YA novel or novel-in-progress. With maybe an hour to spare, I parked myself in front of my laptop and entered exactly 250 newborn words into this online submission box. Then I went to bed and promptly forgot about the whole business until the following February, when I was shocked (and horrified and ashamed, truth be told, because I didn’t have a novel! I had 250 words that were lost to the ether because Smart Girl hadn’t even bothered to make a copy!) to learn that BSA had won the contest.

The contest win fueled me to finally commit to paper the story that had been occupying my heart and imagination for so long. I wrote during my boys’ naps, and it took me almost a year to complete the manuscript. Just to see if my accidental success was in fact the fluke I suspected it was, I submitted the first 10 pages to another YA Novel contest, this one sponsored by She Writes. When BSA was selected as one of five winners, it earned a glance from several editors and agents including Elizabeth Kaplan, who became my agent when I sent out a round of formal queries shortly thereafter. The book sold to Candlewick’s Nicole Raymond, who happened to be one of the final judges of the first contest I entered. It was kismet all around, and proof positive that truth is waaaaaay stranger than fiction. There’s no way I could make this stuff up, and I’m still not sure I believe any of it.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Breakfast Served Anytime follows 17 year-old Gloria to Geek Camp, where she and her misfit classmates follow a series of scavenger hunt-esque clues left by a professor called X. It’s a coming-of-age book; a summer-that-changed-it-all book; a book about butterflies, the literal and the figurative kind. Mostly, though, it’s a story about Finding Your Tribe. It’s also a love song to my native Kentucky, and, because I’m of the opinion that there’s not a book or a life that can’t be enhanced by the presence of a dog, there’s a dog in it: a raggedy-eared Boxer puppy named Holyfield.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

I’m inordinately excited about writing my Acknowledgments Page. I cannot wait to start Acknowledging people all over the place. If I’ve learned anything in this process, it’s that bringing a book into the world is not unlike bringing a child into the world in that it takes a village, and my Village rocks. The high school English teacher who made us memorize Strunk & White’s Elements of Style; my teenage students and the writers whose lucky student I’ve been; the girlfriends whose voices ring through my ears as I write; my modern-day-Atticus-Finch of a husband, whose acquaintance I first made at a Geek Camp not unlike Gloria’s almost two decades ago…there are so many Villagers, and this story belongs to them as much as to me.

Also? I’m inordinately excited to see if Interpol (the band, not the international police organization) will grant us permission to use a handful of their lyrics in the all-important Makeout Scene.

What are your desert island books?

Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Donna Tartt’s Secret History, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings, and J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. As proof of my devotion to that last one—and as a reminder that a good writer is one who can write about the contents of a medicine cabinet and make it entirely fascinating—I keep a marble in my medicine cabinet. The marble would need to accompany me to the island, too, of course.

Sarah Combs is an erstwhile high school Latin teacher and former librarian, but she still loves dead languages and books as much as ever. These days she leads writing workshops at a nonprofit literacy center in Lexington, Kentucky, where she lives with her husband and two young sons. Her debut YA novel, BREAKFAST SERVED ANYTIME, is coming from Candlewick Press in Spring 2014.

GETTIN’ LUCKY: An interview with Liz Fichera, author of HOOKED

We’re talking with Liz Fichera, author of the contemporary romance HOOKED, which is in bookstores now.

From Goodreads:

When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile…


Hi, Liz! Welcome to OneFourKidLit! What’s been your favorite part of the road to publication? Any part of the process you found surprising?

Thank you for having me! Nice to be here.

There have been so many favorites, but I think my all-time, hands-down, will-never-in-a-million-years-forget favorite was receiving my first box of ARCs.  It was so cool to hold my story in my hands.  A surprising part was discovering the sheer number of book bloggers who read and devour anything MG and YA.

What inspired you to set Hooked on a golf team?

I was driving down a long stretch of mostly desolate desert road near my home in Phoenix, Arizona, called Pecos Road.  Pecos Road also happens to run parallel with the Gila River Indian Reservation. An image of a Native American girl popped into my head, and she was waving a golf club at me.  Weird, yes? But I took that as a sign.  The American Southwest, particularly Arizona, is plentiful of beautiful Native American culture and golf courses.  Rarely, however, do you find them in the same sentence, much less the same book.

HOOKED gives us a nice view into the worlds of Native Americans and golf. What kind of research did you do for this book, if any?

There was quite a lot regarding Native life and the sport of golf.  I was fortunate to have a number of Native American beta-readers, including teens.  That helped me a great deal because I wanted to make sure Fred’s voice was authentic.   With regard to golf, I come from a family who loves the sport.  My father taught me to play and my husband, sister and brother-in-law are quite good.  I’m a disaster but I do love the sport.

You do a great job of writing from both Fred and Ryan’s POV. How did you go about getting their voices down?

Thank you! As I start to *see* characters in my head–in this case, Fred and Ryan–I try my best to get inside their heads too.  In other words, try to understand their motivations, their desires, what makes them tick.  Interviewing your characters really helps too in terms of separating the voices (e.g. girl vs. boy).  I’ll do that a lot as I’m writing a first draft.  For this book, I had several male beta readers because I wanted to make sure that I had Ryan’s voice right, and that was tremendously helpful.

Your one piece of advice for writers?

Read a lot. Write even more.  Above all, write the story in your heart. Never chase trends.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

Just two or three?! Well, I loved the LITTLE HOUSE books and I think I must have checked out all of the books in THE BOXCAR CHILDREN series at least a thousand times.

Finish this sentence: If readers liked ________________, then they’ll love HOOKED!


Liz Fichera likes to write stories about ordinary teens who do extraordinary things. Born in Park Ridge, Illinois, Liz moved to the American Southwest after college, never expecting to live more than one year among cacti and people who’d never seen snow. She was wrong. To learn more, please visit LizFichera.com

Philip Siegel grew up in New Jersey, which he insists is much nicer than certain TV shows would have you believe. After college, he moved to Los Angeles, where he became an NBC page. Currently, he works in downtown Chicago and writes novels while sandwiched in between colorful characters on the El. His debut novel, THE BREAK-UP ARTIST (Harlequin Teen), about a girl who runs a business breaking up couples, hits bookstores May 2014.

GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Tim Federle, author of BETTER NATE THAN EVER

Today we’re talking with Lucky13 author Tim Federle, whose debut BETTER NATE THAN EVER is available in bookstores, just waiting for you to grab your copy. You guys. This book is the BEST. Funny and heartfelt and thoughtful… and I could gush all day, but I’ll let the blurb speak for itself:

Nate Foster has BIG dreams.

His whole life Nate has wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune?

With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom. Now’s his chance to explore the city, wow the casting director, out-sing the competition, and hop the last bus home before anyone notices he’s gone. No big deal, right? But exciting as it is, the Big Apple can be big trouble. And if Nate isn’t careful, he’ll be lucky if he makes it through Times Square, much less the audition.

Tim Federle writes a warm and witty debut that’s full of broken curfews, second chances, and the adventure of growing up—because sometimes you have to get four hundred miles from your backyard to finally feel at home.

Ahhh! Doesn’t that sound AMAZING?

And now. The lights dim, and the curtain opens. A hilarious, brilliant author named Tim Federle (a young man with brown hair and a bright smile) steps onto the stage, followed by Lauren Magaziner the interviewer (a young woman with a mop of curly black hair).  The audience falls silent as Lauren crosses the stage:

LM: Hi, Tim! How did you come up with the idea for BETTER NATE THAN EVER?

TF: I moved to New York City to dance on Broadway. After 10 years and 5 shows, I ended up on the artistic staff of BILLY ELLIOT. I was so inspired by the wit and fearlessness of these children, and I thought that if these kids can face these giant audiences, I can face the blank page, which is something I had wanted to try for a while.  So I was inspired by the kids.

BETTER NATE THAN EVER, for those of you out there who don’t know, is about a boy who runs away from home to crash an audition for ET the Musical.

Were you ever in E.T. the musical?

Actually, there isn’t—

Oh my gosh, there isn’t one!

I specifically chose something that wasn’t real.  I love musicals, but sometimes they can be a bit… cheesy.  I thought it would be funny to take a movie that was perfect and imagine it as a show that’s not.

Well, I’m a huge musical theater buff, and I didn’t even realize until just now. You made it so believable—well done!  So, are you currently on Broadway?

These days I do some freelance choreography, but I’m currently writing full-time. My tap shoes are temporarily hung up.

How has your past theater experience help you to write BETTER NATE THAN EVER?

I’ve been in a lot of shows—ones that have gotten good reviews and some that have gotten bad reviews.  Writing books and dancing on Broadway are similar in that you’re putting your heart on the line.  Any artist who puts himself out there for review is like a writer.  With books, it’s a slower and quieter process as things trickle in.  The difference is that shows are all about collaboration, but for novel writing you can spend months, if not years, with your characters and the computer before you share.

So what was your path to publication like?

Strange, but also similar to a lot of other things in my life: I do a ton of preparation and research and then it all goes out the door in the final hour. Basically, I wrote Better Nate Than Ever — a bad, big, overwritten first draft — in a month. Then I polished and refined it during the mornings and researched agents at night. And then one day, without my expecting it and without having sent my first round of queries, I heard from an agent (Brenda! Bowen!). She’d been passed some of my writing by a colleague of hers/friend of mine. Brenda had brilliant thoughts on Nate, and we revised and then sent it into the world, and it found a very happy home at Simon & Schuster with the great David Gale.

What was the most surprising thing about publishing a book?  Or exciting?  Or both?

The surprising thing is how long it takes from sale to publication.  It’s like… the longest pregnancy ever, and then OHMYGOD THE BABY IS COMING.

The most exciting thought is that my book could make people laugh or feel something.  And it is exciting to lend my voice to something that is singularly my own.  (My own, plus a lot of hard-working people at S&S to partner with me. It takes a village to raise a book.)

That’s so reassuring to hear that it moves so quickly in the end.  What’s your typical writing day like?

Well, when I was writing BETTER NATE THAN EVER, I would wake up at 7:00 a.m., and I’d write until about noon.  Almost always, I’d finish a chapter. They weren’t very good chapters, but it would be a chapter.  I’d send them to my friend secretly and rehearse for Billy Elliot until 10 pm.  When I got home, I’d go to bed—then wake up and do it again.

Woah.  That’s intense!

Yeah.  But now that I’m writing full time, I’m trying to find moments to carve out time in between making plans and setting up events.  I try to wake up early.  It’s changed—there’s a big difference between writing when no one’s expecting something from you and writing on contract. Both have plusses and minuses.

So… now that you’re writing every day, we must know what future projects you have in the works!

I have three.  In the spring, I have a recipe book called TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD: COCKTAILS WITH A LITERARY TWIST from Running Press, which is all about literary cocktails.  It includes drinks like, “Are you there, God? It’s me Margarita!” and much more.

Then, in 2014, the sequel to BETTER NATE THAN EVER comes out from Simon & Schuster.

Lastly, I’m working on a middle grade book that comes out from Disney Books in 2015 about a rambunctious boy who gets out of trouble by getting into tap dancing.

Those all sound AMAZING, and I need them all NOW. *Grabby hands*  I won’t keep you away from your writing any longer (for selfish reasons because I want more Tim Federle books!). Last question: since we are a community All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what 2 or 3 books inspired you as a kid?

MATILDA was my favorite!  I so admired, even as a kid, that Roald Dahl was able to say, “Some people are not as nice as other people,” and that’s a reality.  He didn’t sugar coat it.  Even though Roald Dahl was writing about fantastical things, it felt real.

Then, there was a book called SONDHEIM & COMPANY.  It was non-fiction, and I read it cover to cover.  I remember thinking it was the coolest, greatest book ever.  I just wanted to lose myself in that world.

And there was STUART LITTLE by E.B. White.  Such a good reminder that you can do things in children’s literature that pushed the realm of believability—like talking animals.  But these talking animals had such real feelings, and I loved that about Stuart Little.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Tim! Congrats again! You have a standing ovation from the OneFours!

Meet the Author:

Tim Federle was born in San Francisco, raised in Pittsburgh, and moved to New York as a teenager to dance on Broadway. His debut novel, Better Nate Than Ever, was recently named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Junior Library Guild selection. Say hi at TimFederle.com and on Twitter @TimFederle.

This interview was conducted by OneFour member Lauren Magaziner, whose MG novel (title to be determined) releases from Penguin Books for Young Readers in Summer 2014. This interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s books authors debuting in 2013.



Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

At the risk of sounding like an 90’s British pop band, when it came to getting published, I was the King of Wishful Thinking. (Now see if you can pry that little ditty out of your head. You’re welcome.)

I had this thunderstruck moment during my final days of law school, and this idea sorta fell into my head (when really I should have been studying). At the risk of my GPA, I wrote about fifty pages, gave them to a friend of mine from Scotland, and was promptly informed, in that particular Scottish way, of how they were left wanting. I’ll spare you the actual flavor of his comments. The manuscript was set aside for a while and then I moved to England for a study abroad. There, I got re-inspired, came home, rewrote and finished the book. I spent a couple of months in the agent query pool and landed an agent with Endeavor. They merged with William Morris and, basically, I found myself without representation shortly thereafter.

Once again, I figured becoming an author was wishful thinking and that I’d fluked getting as close as I had. Nearly a year later, on a whim, I queried again, and scored with John Rudolph at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. He then sold THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM to Medallion Press.

Easy peasy.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM is YA thriller / adventure about a seventeen-year-old skeptic who, unbeknownst to him, is the Archangel Gabriel born human in order to stop the second war between Heaven and Hell.


What cool facts might readers not know about you?

I’m a lawyer. Wait…you said cool. Sorry.

I come from Alabama. No banjo on the knee. But I do play guitar!

I love to travel. (Who doesn’t, right?) Cool places I’ve been to include the Peruvian Amazon and the Galapagos Islands.

I play soccer. Though, the older I get, the more it becomes an exercise in diminishing results.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

I think that first moment you speak with a person legitimately connected to the Publishing Industry, usually your agent, and in their voice you hear genuine excitement for your work – that’s special. That’s something you won’t forget. I rank it higher than the You’re Going To Be Published Call because in the first call, there’s this sense of bewildered wonder at the possibility of what may come your way.  I promise you, that’s a feeling that is difficult to forget.

THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM (Medallion Press) is a YA adventure about an archangel born human to stop the second war between Heaven and Hell. S. L. Duncan can be found on Twitter @SLDuncanBooks and at INKROCK.com. He is represented by John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.