Last Tuesday I invited blog readers to submit questions for children's book author, Debbie Dadey. I said I would post the answers today, so after hesitating in light of yesterday's events in Boston, I decided to go ahead with the post. Debbie is all about bringing joy into the world to help raise strong, happy kids and I hope getting to know her brings a bit of comfort to everyone's day.
Debbie is the author and co-author
of 158 books, including The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series from
Scholastic and Mermaid
Tales from Simon and Schuster. Set for a May 7 release, her newest
book (#159!) The Lost Princess, continues the Mermaid Tales series, bringing ocean ecology and marine life into fantasy
stories. A former first grade teacher and librarian, Debbie lives in Bucks
County with her three children, three dogs, and handsome husband. She says that she loves visiting elementary schools and speaking with groups about writing. Her passion is helping reluctant readers. http://www.debbiedadey.com
LinkedIn Twitter Facebook.com/debbiedadey
To celebrate the new book, Debbie is giving away one copy of The Lost Princess to a lucky reader of my blog!
First, I need to give you Debbie's answers to your questions. So here's Debbie!
- From a YA writer attempting her first work for younger folk. What
do you think sets writing for elementary school kids apart from writing
for older audiences (even older middle graders?)
Hi Katia, I
think YA has filtered down even to fifth and sixth graders, so that’s important
to keep in mind. Many high schoolers
don’t read YA; they read adult books. Of
course, that being said, there are some adults who enjoy YA. So, it’s definitely a mixed bag of
readers. Young adult stories can use
harder words (but not just for the sake of being harder) and tougher
concepts. Some YA books are very raw
(think Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson) and some just a step above a middle
grade (perhaps with the only difference being length-think the first Twilight
book which was relatively tame). For
instance, a middle grade book would never have a sexual encounter and rarely
ever profanity. In YA books, this sort
of thing isn’t uncommon. The thing to
keep in mind is the audience and how they relate to one another. You want to keep the plot realistic and your
characters and how they interact ‘real’ as well. Good luck, Katia!
is your secret to your immense productivity? (related question: When did
you publish your first book?)
My first book, Vampires Don’t Wear
Polka Dots, came out in 1990. It turned
into a series called The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids. I was
lucky to co-author that, as well as several other series, with the very
talented Marcia Thornton Jones. She taught
me that there is no such thing as writer’s block. There may be a day when you don’t write well,
but you can always write-even if it’s “I don’t know what to write” over and
over. Pretty soon that gets boring and
you write, “I guess I could write about this….” I also brainstorm, do a rough outline, and
try to write every day. I believe in
working hard, but I’ve been very lucky and blessed. My newest book will come out in May, The Lost
Princess, which is #5 in the Mermaid Tales series. I am having such fun with the underwater
world and I think that makes me want to write more.
wants to know: how did you approach the agent vs. publisher debate when
you first started submitting? Has that changed over time?
|You can win me!|
My first 90 books were without an
agent. I started writing at a time when
children’s authors didn’t really need an agent.
I feel that may have changed as many houses only accept agented work. It hasn’t always been easy working with an
agent, but it is wonderful to have someone ‘in my corner.’ I would definitely work to get an agent if I
didn’t have one. I am currently with
asks: What’s the secret to holding a chapter book series together?
I think strong characters are very
important to a chapter book series. But
a fast-paced, action-filled plot is just as important. I also feel that kids must be able to relate
to the characters in some way, even if the series is fantasy. Somehow the story must be grounded. For each of my series, I have a big
binder. In it are maps, charts,
character sketches, and notes about the world I’ve built. For instance, in my new Mermaid Tales series,
I have a tail chart. Since my mermaids
and merboys (and their teachers and families) have different color tails I
needed to keep it straight!
are chapter books important? Can’t kids go right from picture books to
middle grade novels?
They probably could if all kids
were fabulous readers, but in the real world that isn’t necessarily the
case. Some kids, even as young as
kindergarten and first grade, want to read a chapter book. They don’t want a baby book (picture book).
Take it from this former librarian; it’s a big deal to read a book with
chapters. Not only is a middle grade
novel often overwhelming just in its length for a second grader, it is often
more difficult for them to comprehend.
So, that’s where chapter books come in.
They are books that are developmentally appropriate (in what a second
and third grader is interested in) and with a vocabulary that is on target.
Did you see that beautiful cover? If you missed the synopsis last week, here it is again:
In this Mermaid Tales adventure, Shelly’s not sure she’s ready to be royalty.
one of the merkids in Shelly Siren’s third grade class can believe the
shell-shattering news: Shelly is a princess! A real princess! It’s been a
deep, dark secret in Trident City, but now everyone knows—and Shelly
doesn’t know how to act. Should she start wearing a glittery crown? Or
move to a grand undersea palace? Will her friends have to call her
Princess Shelly? She knows it’s an exciting turn of events, but Shelly’s
not sure she can truly fit the royal part. Can she find a way to be a
princess and stay herself?
|Volume 1 of the series|
Now that you've read this far, it's time for the giveaway! Debbie is giving away one copy of The Lost Princess to a lucky reader of my blog! If you are 18 years of age or older and a resident of the U.S. all you have to do is leave a comment in this post to be eligible. If you share the post to Facebook or tweet about it, let us know and you'll get another entry. The winning name will be pulled May 5 (just in time for the May 7 release!)
So, what are you waiting for?