This week we are In the Middle with Adriana Brad Schanen, author of the adorable Quinny & Hopper.
Quinny has a lot to say. Hopper gets to the point.
Quinny has one speed: very, very, extra-very fast. Hopper proceeds with caution.
Quinny has big ideas. Hopper has smart solutions.
Quinny and Hopper couldn’t be more different. They’re an unstoppable team. But when summer ends, things suddenly aren’t the same. Can Quinny and Hopper stick together in the face of stylish bullies, a killer chicken, and those new Third Grade Rules – especially the one that says they’re not allowed to be friends anymore?
Combining emotional realism and adventure-driven plotting, this young MG alternates between the comically-different perspectives of a boy and a girl whose close summer friendship runs smack-dab into the uncertainties of a new school year that could change everything…maybe even for the better.
Q&A with Adriana
What draws you into writing for an MG audience?
I was a restless, reluctant reader as a kid. Picture books were fun, but I stalled after that. I remember sitting there in 3rd grade, staring out the window as the teacher droned on from a giant language arts textbook. And those numbered reading comprehension questions at the end of each section were just the pits. It all felt like an obligatory blur.
Today there’s often more choice and creativity in early elementary language arts curriculums, but I still think we lose a lot of kids in between picture books and middle grade. I want to grab hold of that 8 and 9 year old and keep it interesting for them, keep them in the game. If kids aren’t having that special relationship with a book and a flashlight under the covers at ages 8, 9, 10, they may not hang on with books at all.
I’m particularly drawn to writing contemporary/realistic early MG because that’s what reached me at that age. I could have used more Ramona, and older Ramona, and foreign Ramona, and Ramona in a wheelchair. Like millions of other kids, I loved Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume’s books, but that kind of flesh & blood reading felt separate and somehow less legitimate than the textbook reading we did in school.
If you had a time machine and could visit middle-grade you, what would you tell her?
Can I bring stuff, too? If so, I‘d go back and hand 2nd grade me The Year of Billy Miller and Anna Hibiscus. Then I’d zoom ahead to 4th grade me and offer her One for the Murphys and So B. It and The Penderwicks.
Lastly, I’d find 7th grade me and tell her to take her creativity seriously. Pursue it, indulge it, develop it. Don’t think of it as goofing off. It’s currency, lifeblood. It’s how you’ll try to make the world a more beautiful place.
Or maybe I’d just give her a copy of Miss Rumphius. No one needs picture books more than people who think they’ve outgrown them.
Is there an interview question you’d love to answer but haven’t been asked?
Well…I’d love to be asked how I manage to keep my home so clean and my children so well-mannered and my complexion so radiant, all the while producing profound, witty, world-changing books. Alas, it has not happened yet.
For the time being, life is filled with dust bunnies, tweeny bickering and insomnia-induced pallor — not to mention a meandering second manuscript in need of merciless revision. And the gratitude I feel for every crazy, beautiful moment of it all is bone deep.
Dust bunnies are part of the creative process, right? Thanks for dropping in, Adriana, and congratulations on your debut!
|Adriana Brad Schanen was born in Romania, raised in Chicago, and now lives in the vibrant, diverse town of Montclair, NJ with her husband, two daughters and a shaggy 60-pound lap dog named Oliver. She can often be found in her attic study, writing books for kids and teens or the occasional screenplay. Her first early MG novel, QUINNY & HOPPER, releases June 10, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion.
Connect with Adriana on her website, AdrianaBradBchanen.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Stuff I’m doing. If you are local to me, come see me Wednesday night, talking Twitter at Willamette Writers. Details on my events page.
Chickens, again—a little bit sadder. Due to an ill-timed gust of wind and a heavy coop door, we lost our Annie. Perhaps she has joined Phillis somewhere? I hope so. They were the best of friends.
Farewell, Chicken Annie!
And now for something happier! There are only
100 99 days until Hook’s Revenge is released!
Start practicing your pirate here.
Still chickens. I couldn’t resist. Meet Fat Amy (blonde) and Matilda (brunette).
BEA is a giant publishing trade show. This year, it was even better than ever before (at least for me) because the Disney*Hyperion booth was giving out advance copies of Hook’s Revenge!
This, right here, was the best part of the entire show:
— Ella Schwartz (@ellaschwartz) May 31, 2014
I also had a great time connecting with friends, my wonderful agent, my amazing editor, and other Disney team members. But I took photos of almost none of it. (I really need to get better at that.)
On Saturday, I saw the culmination of the last few months of hard work. My dear friend Claire Legrand invited the lovely Lauren Magaziner (please do yourself a favor and read their amazing books) and me to help her plan the Kids Author Carnival. This event was modeled on the popular Teen Author Carnival, but focusing on middle-grade books.
— Brooks Sherman (@byobrooks) May 31, 2014
Claire, Lauren, and I had high hopes, but even we couldn’t have predicted what a wild success it would be. We had 37 fabulous middle grade authors playing charades and Pictionary, leading writing exercises, and sitting on Q&A sessions in front of a crowd of about 200 readers, mostly kids.
— Marietta B Zacker (@AgentZacker) June 1, 2014
— Alexa S. (@alexalovesbooks) May 31, 2014
I got to sit on and moderate a panel with Bruce Coville, Danette Vigilante, Josh Burk, Kate Milford, and Dan Poblocki. Secrets were shared, such as the number of notebooks in Kate’s bag that evening (nine) and how one of Bruce’s books actually saved a pair of children from a carjacker.
— Alexa S. (@alexalovesbooks) May 31, 2014
Authors, parents, kids, librarians, teachers, and the booksellers at the event have all expressed to us what a special experience it was. The night was truly magical. I can’t wait for next year!