Interview With YA Author Janet Fox.

I “met” Janet after reading her fabulous YA historical novels and letting her know how much I enjoyed them.  She was kind enough to read  WHEELS OF CHANGE before it was published and wrote a wonderful blurb that appears in the book. We’ve had an e-mail friendship ever since. I couldn’t wait to talk to Janet about her YA novels and her new venture: a debut MG. Janet was also kind enough to feature me on her blog today.  You can check out that post at: http://www.kidswriterjfox.blogspot.com

1. SIRENS takes place in the “Roaring Twenties”. What attracted you to writing about that era?                   Sirens front cover.indd
SIRENS is set in New York City in 1925. When seventeen-year-old Josephine Winter’s father ships her off to live with her rich cousins on the glittering island of Manhattan, he says it’s to find a husband. But Jo knows better–there’s trouble brewing, and in 1925, all that glitters is not gold. Caught up in a swirl of her cousin’s bobbed-hair set–and the men that court them–Jo soon realizes that this world of jazz and gangsters and their molls hides a nest of lies. But when she befriends the girlfriend of one of the most powerful and dangerous gangsters in town, Jo begins to uncover secrets–secrets that threaten an empire and could destroy everyone she loves. Jo is faced with a choice: hang on to her soul, or lose herself in the decade of decadence.

My first two YA historical novels were contracted for together, and I linked them by tying in  characters, although the second is not strictly a sequel. Just as I was putting the finishing touches on FORGIVEN my publisher contacted my agent and asked if I would be interested in trying my hand at a novel set in the 1920s. I said yes, and wrote a proposal, and they accepted it.

I don’t always say yes to suggestions like this. But I’ve always been fascinated by the twenties – it was a time of such rapid social change as to be explosive. Plus there are nuances like the fascination with the supernatural and the subtle political rumblings that led straight toward World War II. I had a lot of fun researching and writing SIRENS.

2. You wrote two other wonderful YA Historical Fiction books: FAITHFUL and FORGIVEN. How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

Thank you! It was a total accident. I don’t consider myself to be an historical fiction author, and in fact most of my current projects are anything but. FAITHFUL, my first novel, was really written as a way for me to deal with the sudden death of my mother. When I went to craft Maggie’s story about her search for her mother, I picked Yellowstone as a setting, and 1904 as the year only because I was interested in that period of history and it’s a fantastic period within the Park.                Faithful high res

FORGIVEN carries on from FAITHFUL but I set it in San Francisco because as a former geologist I wanted to write about the 1906 earthquake.    Forgiven with award

3. As someone who also writes historical fiction, I’m interested in how you conduct your research. Tell us about your process.

I almost never research ahead. It’s important to me to know my character first, so I often write quite a bit before I feel the need to dig into research. Once I know my character, then I try to craft a story that will delve into the rich human experience. And then I often research on the fly – hunting for material that I need to know.

For example, with SIRENS, I knew Jo and I knew she was going to befriend Lou, and I knew the two girls would get mixed up somehow with a gangster and bootlegging. But it wasn’t until I heard a radio interview one winter night with the author of a book about the 1920’s magician Howard Thurston that I realized that the twenties’ obsession with spiritualism would be central to my theme. It fit my character, it fit the story, and it was an interesting aspect of the twenties that doesn’t get much attention.

That said, at some point I do the following: read newspaper ads and articles of the period; read something written in the period; read the society columns of the time; find vocabulary lists or terms popular at the time; find clothing catalogs of the time; look for popular pastimes. These all comprise my socio-economic understanding, the atmosphere that surrounds my character.

4. You recently sold your first middle grade historical titled CHATELAINE: THE THIRTEENTH CHARM. Can you tell us about that and how it was writing your first MG novel?

Actually CHATELAINE is much more fantasy than historical. Yes, it’s set in 1940 and the children are escaping the blitz; yes, there is a German spy and an enigma machine. But after that, it’s very much a story about ghosts, a steampunk witch, an immortal wizard, children who are disappearing, artifacts with magical powers, peculiar teachers, a creepy castle, the rainy Scottish Highlands…in short, a slightly scary run-for-your-life mystery.
I loved writing this novel. It came out of nowhere – actually it was inspired by a piece of jewelry I saw on the internet – but as I was writing I was remembering all those days as a preteen when I was holed up in the corner on a rainy afternoon with one of the Narnia books or an Agatha Christie novel. Kat is such a great character and I had so much fun writing her story and then embellishing it with wild and crazy twists and turns…I hope readers will love it, too.

It sounds amazing Janet. I will definitely be adding that one to my reading list!

5. Of all your memorable characters, which one is your favorite and why?

Wow. That’s like loving one of your children more than the others!

I guess if I had to be pinned to the wall, I would say Maggie, because she’s my first. But then there’s Kula, feisty Kula, who begged to have her story told. And Jo – she’s such a determined, strong-willed girl – and Lou, who comes from nothing and has street-smarts. Now Kat, she’s the pragmatic girl who has to develop her imagination…and then there’s Rima, from my next novel…obviously, this is the impossible choice!

Thanks so much, Darlene!                                    janet fox

Janet Fox writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction for children of all ages. She became a children’s author in the mid-90s, when her son’s learning differences led her to develop her non-fiction book for Free Spirit Publishing, GET ORGANIZED WITHOUT LOSING IT (2006). Other work for children includes short fiction (Spider Magazine) and science non-fiction (Highlights for Children). Her young adult debut novel, FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin Group, 2010) was an Amelia Bloomer List pick, and was followed by a companion novel, FORGIVEN (Penguin, 2011), a Junior Library Guild selection and WILLA Literary Award Finalist, and a YA historical set in the 1920s, SIRENS (Penguin, 2012).
Her debut middle grade novel CHATELAINE: THE THIRTEENTH CHARM is an historical fantasy (Viking, 2016). She is a 2010 graduate of the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, a former Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a former high school English teacher. Janet lives in Bozeman, Montana, where Janet and her husband enjoy the mountain vistas.

You can also find her at http://www.janetsfox.com and at http://www.kidswriterjfox.blogspot.com

Blog Tour For WHEELS OF CHANGE

Originally posted on Darlene Beck-Jacobson:

I am now halfway through the blog tour to help promote the release of my first book, a MG historical titled WHEELS OF CHANGE. I’m excited to be sharing the journey with all of you and hope you will visit some of the stops on the tour to learn about how the book came to be.  Here’s the schedule, and please send me your comments about your favorite post; I’d love to hear from you.  There will also be two opportunities to win a free autographed copy of WHEELS OF CHANGE at two stops on the tour.

8-19- Marriah Nissen:  http://www.divinesecretsofthewritingsisterhood.blogspot.com   and   http://www.therandombookreview.blogspot.com    Interview and Book review.

8-22- Yvonne Ventresca:  http://www.YvonneVentresca.com/blog.html    5 Things about the cover.

8-26- Roseanne Kurstedt   http://www.rlkurstedt.wordpress.com    How teachers might use the book.

8-29-  Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen  http://www.nerdychicksrule.com    Character and author Interview

9-2-  Gail Terp   http://www.gailterp.com      Q & A regarding literacy

9-8- Kathy…

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Joy And Celebration: The Launch of WHEELS OF CHANGE!

Yesterday was a monumental and long awaited day for me: The Official Launch of my debut novel WHEELS OF CHANGE. I held the festivities at the local BARNES & NOBLE on the campus of Rowan University, in Glassboro NJ. It was a thrill to see so many people from all phases of my life turn out to show their support and help me celebrate.  Here are some photos of the day:   photo 2

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The "Arrival Survival" Team from B&N set everything up for a successful day.

The “Arrival Survival” Team from B&N set everything up for a successful day.

Friends make everything better...

Friends make everything better…

 

 

Having my daughter and husband at the event made it extra special.

Having my daughter and husband at the event made it extra special.

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Teachers LOVE books...thank goodness! I LOVE teachers!

Teachers LOVE books…thank goodness! I LOVE teachers!

bs8bs29bs 23bs 15Many smiles brightened the day, many hugs were given and taken, many books were happily signed, many words of congratulations were heard.  It was a wonderful way to send my book out into the world.  Thanks to everyone who made the event possible.  You are ALL wonderful and I will be eternally grateful for your generosity, enthusiasm and love.

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The first stack of books...came and went.

The first stack of books…came and went.

Three Great Books For Children

I’ve been reading a lot of great children’s books lately and want to tell you about three I recently enjoyed.

1. DON’T TURN THE PAGE by Rachelle Burk (Creston Books) – is a delightful PB about a young hedgehog named Sami who wants mama to read her a story as she gets ready for bed, but tries to prolong the routine by telling Mama “Don’t turn the page.”  Sami’s curiosity makes her question what happens next as she peeks at the next page of the story.  It’s the perfect tale for little ones who are reluctant to say goodnight.

2. EDGAR’S SECOND WORD by Audrey Vernick: This delightful PB tells the tale of a little girl who longs for a baby brother to play with and teach things to.  When Edgar finally arrives, Hazel is disappointed because he can’t talk or do much of anything until one day when he learns his first word.  It is NOT what Hazel expected at all! A charming story for any child waiting for a sibling to be big enough to play with.

3. JUNIPER BERRY by M. P. Kozlowsky: This MG novel is a spooky and engaging tale of a lonely girl whose famous acting parents are acting even stranger than usual.  Once loving and attentive, they’ve now forgotten Juniper is even around. One day she finds them sneaking out after dark toward an old, sinister looking tree.  What is it about that tree – and the blackbird that lives in it – that makes her parents behave so strangely?  Juniper is determined to find out, before it’s too late.

Check out these books and all the other wonderful titles that can be found at your local library or bookstore.  Start the school year off with a great story!

Princeton Children’s Book Festival

darlenebeckjacobson:

I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful post from ROBIN NEWMAN about the PRINCETON BOOK FESTIVAL.

Originally posted on Robin Newman Books:

Celebrating its 9th year, the Princeton Children’s Book Festival provides children, and bigger children like myself, the opportunity to meet some of their all-time favorite authors and illustrators, to learn about their craft, and to pray that their credit cards won’t exceed their credit limits because they’ve bought so many books. :)

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And here are some photographic highlights of this year’s festival:

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John Bemelmans Marciano

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 Laurie Calkhoven

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Ammi-Joan Paquette

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Floyd Cooper 

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Me & Leeza Hernandez 

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Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen 

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 Zachariah Ohora

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 Peter Brown 

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Corey Rosen Schwartz

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Dave Roman 

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Sophie Blackall

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Dan Yaccarino

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Brian Floca 

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Tad Hills

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Lauren Castillo

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Adam Lehrhaupt

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 Shhh! You didn’t see me.

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Ame Dyckman

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Donna Marie 

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Charise Harper 

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 Debbie Dadey 

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Nancy Viau

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Matt Phelan 

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Michelle Knudsen 

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Jon Scieszka

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Maryrose Wood

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Alison Ashley Formento

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Tommy Greenwald

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I had an awesome, amazing, super, wonderful, very, very good day at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival! And I’m looking forward…

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Lassie to the Rescue.

September is National Preparedness Month.  Heroic dog LASSIE  is teaming up with Save The Children to spread the word about the importance of having EMERGENCY KITS  for children.  These kits should include a recent photo, medical information, and more to prepare children for disasters such as storms, earthquakes, etc. To find out what should go in each kit and to see how LASSIE saves the day at Parade Magazine, visit: http://www.parade.com/lassie.                lassie

Visit the Save the Children website for more information: http://www.savethechildren.org/GetReady

Good morning, Kidlit and GOODNIGHT, ARK! Laura Sassi’s Debut! (plus a giveaway!)

Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):

Good morning, writers! (Yawn! Stretch! Crack fingers. Sip tea.)

Let me tell you the reason for my uber-early morn, besides rousting my middle-schooler from her zombie-slumber. Not only do I have a SCBWI event at a “hipster cafe” (according to said middle-schooler), but I’m here to announce another debut by a friend! I’m pleased to share with you an adorable Noah’s ark tale, GOODNIGHT, ARK by Laura Sassi. Once again, a picture book writer makes a breakthrough with a new twist on a familiar theme.

goodnightarkLaura, a lot of time on this blog is spent talking about inspiration and story ideas (because of PiBoIdMo). What’s the genesis of GOODNIGHT, ARK?

First off, I just love your play on words here. The Biblical story of Noah’s ark is indeed found in Genesis! And I’ve always loved the story of Noah and the flood and all those animals packed in the ark…

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