CE: Today I’m chatting with Rhonda Hayter, who is offering a book giveaway of her contemporary fantasy, The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams! Post a comment on this interview, and we’ll randomly choose one lucky winner to receive a copy. Please be sure your post links to your e-mail or website so we can contact you, or check back on Sunday’s post to see the winner.
CE: Rhonda, please tell us about your book.
I’m the author of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams, a middle-grade comic fantasy about a very normal girl, with regular problems like a strict fifth-grade teacher, too much homework and a little brother with some…um…behavior issues. Abbie and her family also happen to be witches so her problems get complicated by things like her little brother losing his temper, turning into a werewolf and trying to eat his first-grade teacher. But Abbie’s gifts also allow her to do some pretty incredible stuff, like meeting a great American from the past, who’s been enchanted by an evil witch determined to steal credit for his amazing inventions.
CE: Why did you choose to write in this genre? What inspires you?
When I started writing about Abbie Adams, who’s a fifth grader, I had a fifth-grader of my own in the house and I was immersed in the life of an eleven-year old. I heard eleven-year old voices in the back seat of my car, at birthday parties, soccer games, in the school yard and at the dinner table. So a voice like that started to come out of me when I wrote the book. I wanted to teach some things in my book but I knew from the discarded books around my house that was the fastest way to get a book abandoned…so I made it as fun and magical as I could. That way no one notices they’re being sneakily edified.
CE: Are there special challenges in writing speculative fiction? How did you deal with them?
I suppose the challenge is in discovering the limits of your own imagination. But that’s also the fun of course. There’s also the importance of creating a solid, unshakeable logic for your imaginary world…because nothing destroys suspension of disbelief faster than for a reader to sense that the rules and boundaries of your magical universe have been broken.
CE: Have you found any challenges in finding publishers? In reading readers?
You bet I’ve found challenges! But I’m not sure how special they are, I don’t think it’s easy for anyone. It was a circuitous road to publication because my first publisher, a Canadian house, closed their doors after acquiring me. (I got to keep the advance though, so that was nice.) A zillion passes later, Harcourt took me on and then Harcourt underwent all sorts of financial upheaval…which caused plenty of upheaval in me too…but finally, my editor, (and hero) Kathy Dawson left Harcourt and took me with her to Penguin. So I finally got published in April. Everyone please feel free to sigh with relief. I certainly did.
The challenge in finding readers is on-going and so SO slow!!! I’m a proud member of the Classof2k10 debut authors and we cross promote, I’ve done blog tours and arc tours and every other thing I can think of to do…but I ain’t hit the 100,000 mark yet, I can tell ya. Abbie’s coming out on the Scholastic book lists in the fall though, so I’m hoping for a big boost there. (From my keyboard to God’s ears.)
CE: If you could live in a sci-fi or fantasy world not of your own making, which would it be? Why?
I’d leap onto the deck of the Starship Enterprise and start cruising the universe baby! Even when it started in the sixties, it held a hopeful vision of the future that wasn’t yet being reflected in the world around it. Women on deck! Russians and Americans working together! Equality between the races! So okay, maybe Uhura was just a glorified switchboard operator and you still had a cocky white guy as the boss…but it was a great step in the right direction and its vision of the universe was so incredibly imaginative. Sad to say, my boys won’t sit through it with me. They think it’s the corniest thing they ever saw. I’m working on getting them into The Next Generation though.
CE: What would readers find surprising or interesting about you?
Well, I’m just naturally fascinating of course, but beyond that it might be my day job, which is as a reader for a movie producer. And let me tell you, it’s a lot more easy-squeezy critiquing other writers, than it is putting yourself out in the world to be critiqued. However it has put me in a position to offer a little valuable advice to people submitting work to be read…and here it is: Don’t subject a jaded reader (and they’ll all be jaded) to spelling errors, poor syntax or incorrect grammar and punctuation. They’ll be predisposed to write you off as an amateur and your work will have to be that much more brilliant to merit a second look.
CE: Readers, simply leave a comment to be entered in the drawing to win a copy of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams. Here’s a little more about Rhonda and her book:
THE WITCHY WORRIES OF ABBIE ADAMS debuted in April from Dial Books for Young Readers. It will be appearing on the Scholastic Book Lists this fall and coming out in paperback from Puffin next April. BOOKLIST says: …Abbie is an appealing, peppy protagonist who finds that there are “all kinds of magic in the world . . . with or without witchcraft.” Esme Raji Codell, author of HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO LOVE READING says, “The real magic of this book is that history is woven through the novel absolutely painlessly… The breezy pace, believable preteen voice (and vulnerability), good humor, eye of newt and toe of frog will work a spell of confidence-building success for reluctant readers.
Rhonda Hayter was born in St. Jean, Quebec. She was an actress for some time, appearing in plays on tour and in New York and Los Angeles. Now she works as a story analyst for a famous movie producer. When she and her husband found themselves with two little boys, one of whom morphed into a werewolf one day, The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams was born.