Gettin’ Lucky: An Interview with Jennifer Ann Mann, author of SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY

Today I’m psyched to introduce Jennifer Ann Mann, the author of the hilarious middle-grade, SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY. Let me tell you, people, you will never look at your evil genius sister the same way again.

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One little sister, some homemade super glue, and about a million plastic flowers. That’s all it took to make a totally regular morning turn into a super crazy day! Masha has always known her little sister, Sunny, was an evil genius. But this time, Sunny has gone too far. The glue she used to attach plastic daisies to Masha’s head won’t come off! The girls have to stay home from school, and Sunny sets out on an adventure to help fix Masha’s head. Fix it? Yeah, right! Masha just wants to stick to the rules for once. Sunny plans on testing every single one. When this adventure is over, Sunny Sweet is going to be so sorry!

Welcome to OneFourKidLit! What’s been your favorite part of the road to publication?

Meeting other writers. Writing was something I did alone. I don’t do it alone anymore.

Any part of the writing process you found surprising?

Just how hard it is to plot! I so wish everyone didn’t expect something to happen in a book. It would make the whole thing much easier to do.

What inspired you to write a novel about sisters?

I am the second of four sisters. There were five women living in my house (incuding my mother) and zero men (not counting our dog Wilbur, my father left when I was young). In that same house there was only one bathroom and one telephone (this was the eighties). My well is deep with sister stories. For example, there was a period during the eighth grade where each morning I would wake up to find my toothbrush floating in the toilet, a joke my older sister thought was just hilarious.

Was there a particular scene from the book or character that tumbled onto the page differently than you had imagined?

Definitely that would be Alice, the friend that Masha makes at the hospital. When I first wrote the story, I imagined Alice frustrated with her spina bifida and with life in the hospital, and wanting to live a little through Masha’s situation. Although once I began to write her into the story, she turned out to be this capable and independent kid, with a big adventurous streak. She was frustrated, however, but with how the world insisted that her disorder define her. Alice has a much larger role in SUNNY SWEET IS SO DEAD MEAT, coming out in May of 2014.

Could you name some of your favorite sibling reads?

There is no equal to “Beezus and Ramona.” Beverly Cleary had me at “Beatrice Quimby’s biggest problem was her little sister Ramona.” I could relate…I had two Ramona’s. Judy Blume’s Peter and Fudge also supported me through some very dark sisterly times. (Although unlike Peter, I never did get a puppy!) Brothers, James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier gave me Sam and Tim in “My Brother Sam Is Dead.” They taught me that even if I didn’t always understand my sisters, I could always love them. I can’t leave the Baudelaire orphans off this list. Lemony Snicket’s trio reminded me that my sisters and I were playing for the same team. And finally, I’ll add Tamera Will Wissinger’s Sam and Lucy from “Gone Fishing, A novel in verse” which just recently debuted. These two highlight the beautiful lesson that although we may be stuck on the same “little boat” as siblings, we each have the choice as to whether we make the worst of it or the best of it. It’s a message that Masha Sweet learns the hard way!

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.

To the list above about siblings, I would add CHARLOTTE’S WEB, I never looked at a spider the same again, and THE HOBBIT, I was so much like Bilbo Baggins myself, secretly wanting adventure, but in love with my own bed and a nice hot meal at home each night.

Finish this sentence: If readers liked BEEZUS AND RAMONA by Beverly Cleary, then they’ll love SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY.

Thank you for joining us, Jen!

About the Author:

Jennifer Ann Mann, author photoJennifer grew up in New Jersey, the second of four sisters. Her short stories have been published by Highlights for Children, where she won the 2007 Fiction Contest. She lives in Boston in a giant house filled with kids and cats. This coming fall, Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books will publish Jennifer’s debut novel, Sunny Sweet is So Not Sorry, the first book in theSunny Sweet Series. You can visit her on her WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter.

Heather Demetrios lives in Brooklyn and various imaginary locales. She is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award for her debut YA novel about reality TV stardom, SOMETHING REAL (Macmillan), and is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE about jinn in Los Angeles (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN fantasy trilogy from Balzer +Bray), both out in 2014. She studies writing at VCFA.
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