Grab your instrument and get the band together – we’re going behind the scenes of The Major Eights series with the author! The newest book in the series, The Goo Disaster, published earlier this month.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
Hmm… I guess the short answer is: when I was 5, 16, and … an adult? When I was 5, I used to staple little pieces of paper into books and draw pictures inside. I kept doing that throughout my childhood; the paper got bigger and the paragraphs longer. But it wasn’t something I thought about wanting to be ‘when I grew up’; I just loved doing it. When I was 16, I went through a time of transition and realized I was holding onto writing (especially poetry and writing in a journal) as a lifeline. I knew I wanted to do something with it professionally at some point, but I didn’t know what. Then finally, a few years ago, I started writing a novel in earnest and really decided then that I wanted to write for a living.
2. How did you come up with the idea for The Major Eights?
I heard about the opportunity to write the series through my wonderful agent, and was immediately drawn to the idea of a girl band. I grew up immersed in music–I played piano, flute, oboe, trumpet, and guitar, sang in choirs and took voice, and did musical theater. My first instrument was piano, and I started when I was 8, the same age as the Major Eights! I remember wanting to start a band when I was about their age–I’d decided we were going to hold practices in my garage, and I was going to assign each of the neighborhood kids an instrument and invite them to play. HA! Thankfully, my mom helped me think through the logistics of my big idea before I invited the whole block over. I think she’d gotten wise after the incident two years before that. In first grade, I’d invited my whole class over for a rehearsal for my production of Annie, for which several kids actually showed up, much to my unprepared mother’s shock.
3. Which part from The Major Eights was your favorite to write? Why?
I really love all the characters and their personalities–Jasmine’s big ideas (not unlike my own at her age 😉 ), Scarlet’s sweet spunk, Maggie’s love of learning, and Becca’s determination to succeed. Especially, I love how they work together as a team, even when they disagree. In terms of plots, though, Book 3 (THE GOO DISASTER!) was one of my favorites to write. I’m a science geek at heart, and love doing kitchen science projects with my kids. There’s even a recipe for Maggie’s ‘goo’ at the back of the book! Book 6 (THE SECRET VALENTINE) was also really fun to write because it involved a mystery. In Book 6, Scarlet receives unsigned fan mail for the band in her class’s Valentine exchange, and the band has to figure out who sent it. (Book 6 releases 12/4/2018.) For all the books, I love seeing Emilie Pepin’s illustrations, too. She really brings the characters to life!
4. .What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m probably chasing my two kids around, driving them places, doing their laundry, etc. They’ve been such sweet supporters of the Major Eights. Every time a box full of my copies of a book arrives, they get the first two signed copies. My daughter was 8 when I started writing the series, and gave me reminders of what it’s like to be an 8-year-old girl. My son is super excited about the series, too, and wants me to read him the books at bedtime. He’s learning to read now, so can help a little. I also have an incredibly supportive and wonderful husband, who makes it possible for me to write full-time. When I’m not doing things for/with my family, I love traveling! Recently, we went on a waterfall chase in central Oregon. Absolutely breathtaking!!! I also love to read, and am obsessed with all things Harry Potter. My latest is the Hogwarts Running Club, that organizes virtual races to raise money for local charities. I usually just walk the races, but it’s a blast to be part of the community.
5. What was your favorite book to read as child?
Oh, man, there are so many! But especially anything by Madeleine L’Engle. I devoured her books. Maybe more so as a teen than when I was younger, but I loved the intrigue and mystery, and the way she blended everyday, ordinary adventures with the ethereal, extraordinary ones. She made me dream bigger! I just took my daughter to see the new Wrinkle in Time movie, and it was a really special experience to pass this on. Storm Reid’s portrayal of Meg was spot on, and it was the visually stunning movie I’d always wanted of the story as a teen. For a younger favorite, I also *loved* Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches and Other Stories. I even used one of the stories as a monologue for a play audition in high school! Ha! (And I got the part.)