Today I am delighted to bring a post from my author friend Holly Schindler. Holly has written many award winning MG and YA books for children. Her latest one – WORDQUAKE – has her branching out into illustration as well. Here’s Holly:
Where did you get the idea for the story?
I was in the midst of doing a ton of Skypes for my MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY. I’ve actually met with all sorts of classrooms or reader groups in conjunction with that book—honor students to “kinda-sorta” readers. But I went through this streak where I was dealing primarily with reluctant readers—and around the same time, happened to see a few tweets from teachers about how MG books were brimming with readers (and good students). I kind of wondered at the time if those two things didn’t go together: if reluctant readers gravitated away from books because they weren’t seeing themselves in the protagonists. So I knew I wanted to write a story featuring a non-reader.
How did you come up with the main character (tell a bit about her):
I didn’t want to fall to stereotypes—so I didn’t want my non-reader to be a boy. In fact, in WORDQUAKE, the academically-oriented reader IS a boy! Izzy Ashby is, instead, an outdoor kind of girl—the kind of girl who loves the smell of dirt on her kneecaps and would rather be anywhere other than the library.
What 3 things does the MC learn from events?
Primarily, Izzy’s adventure teaches her about the power of words. One day, as Izzy is walking to the library, she shakes the words off her sweatshirt, and the textbooks, and worksheets, and bulletin boards and chalkboards! Our academically-oriented character, Alexander Gum, explains that her hatred has caused a wordquake (which is kind of like the text-version of an earthquake). This seems like a dream come true to Izzy—but the school day turns out to be an utter disaster. Izzy had no idea just how important words were until they’re all gone!
To a lesser degree, she also learns that actions have consequences, and that it’s best to keep an open mind (you never know what you’ll love—you’ve got to give everything an honest shot)!
I had those not-straight-A students in my head again as I started to sketch illustrations. Those students who were not quite seeing themselves in the pages of their books. I knew I didn’t want the illustrations to look perfect. I wanted them to look accessible. I think, at times, things that are too polished can be discouraging to some students—especially those who aren’t academically oriented. That’s certainly not the impact I wanted this book to have. I wanted students to be inspired to pick up a pen and put it to paper in some way. I’ve also long appreciated the quick, simple style of Liza Donnelly, who’s a cartoonist for THE NEW YORKER. So with that in mind, I drew simple graphics and illustrations of my own to accompany WORDQUAKE.
You can purchase the illustrated version of WORDQUAKE here:
Barnes and Noble (this one’s still in the midst of going live): http://bit.ly/2blNc4n
You can also purchase the e-only (non-illustrated version) here:
iBooks, B&N, Kobo: https://books2read.com/u/mV2gJm
Holly Schindler is a hybrid author of award-winning traditionally published and Amazon-bestselling independently published books for readers of all ages. Her MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, is currently nominated for the Mark Twain Readers Award and Oklahoma Sequoyah Award. Booklist praised her latest YA, SPARK, saying the book “cast a shimmering spell.” Contact her for a Skype visit with your own young readers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her at hollyschindler.com, facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, or on Twitter: @holly_schindler.
To win a free copy of Holly’s book WORDQUAKE, click on the Rafflecopter link below: