Looking for your next great middle grade read? Don’t miss Fadeaway, a “realistic, convincing, and moving debut portrait of grief and friendship” (Kirkus Reviews). We went behind the scenes with author Maura Ellen Stokes to learn more about this fantastic new book!
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
I learned that I enjoyed writing fiction when I wrote some pieces for seventh grade English class, including an epic story of turkeys training not to be selected for Thanksgiving dinner! I was into history in high school, and my first submission was actually to a regional historical journal for a piece on the influence of a New Hampshire trip by Abraham Lincoln on his decision to run for president. Despite a jazzy title—Cooper Union and Concord, Too!—it didn’t get picked up. I turned back to fiction with a creative writing course in college, and several years later, I got my first short story published.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Fadeaway?
When I grew up, a number of kids met early deaths. I was not particularly close to any of them, but they were kids I knew from school or the playground. I had always thought about how difficult it would be for those kids who lost close friends, especially that special best friend. I decided to write about that.
3. Which part of Fadeaway was your favorite to write? Why?
I enjoyed writing the dialog for any scene that included both Sam and dead Reagan (Reagan ‘returns’). They have this easy, somewhat sarcastic rapport, and they know each other so well that only complete honesty works. It was fun to write. Although their last scene together was as hard for this writer as it is for many readers!
4. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy cycling, and I have bikes for all occasions, like road riding and mountain biking. My favorite vacation is one that involves hiking, and I’ve hiked in both the Blue Ridge and Adirondack mountains in recent years. And I’ve rediscovered golf, which was a passion when I was a kid and young adult.
5. What was your favorite book to read as child?
I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid, but Gone-Away Lake (and of course Return to Gone-Away) by Elizabeth Enright was a favorite. I also remember returning from summer camp to find a new copy of Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh on my bed. I enjoyed that as well, although I had to get past Harriet’s love of tomato sandwiches! I still have my original copies of all three books.