Foodie Kidlit Friday: Interview with Taste Test author Kelly Fiore (and giveaway!)

Foodie Kidlit Friday icon

Welcome to the first post in my brand new new blog series, Foodie Kidlit Friday! Every other Friday, I’ll be talking to authors of great food- and cooking-themed books for kids and teens, giving books away, and sharing recipes from my own forthcoming foodie middle-grade novel, All Four Stars.

To kick the series off, I am so lucky to welcome the talented Kelly Fiore to the blog! Kelly’s debut young adult novel Taste Test was published on August 27 by Bloomsbury USA–it’s received excellent reviews, and this particular reader just couldn’t put it down. 🙂

Kelly not only agreed to answer my questions, but is also giving away a signed book and swag to one lucky commenter (details at the bottom of the post), so be sure to leave a note and enter!

Here’s a little more info about Taste Test:

Taste Test by Kelly FioreIf you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She’s been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father’s barbeque joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she’s accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can’t wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means saying good-bye to her dad and her best friend, Billy. Once she’s on set, run-ins with her high-society roommate and the maddeningly handsome—not to mention talented—son of a famous chef, Christian Van Lorten, mean Nora must work even harder to prove herself. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn’t figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good. 

Tara Dairman: Welcome to Foodie Kidlit Friday, Kelly!

Kelly Fiore: Hi Tara – it’s so great to be here! Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat with your readers! 🙂

TD: Let’s jump in with some food talk right away. Your main character in Taste Test, Nora, is a serious cook—though her taste is more down-home barbecue than haute cuisine. Does that reflect your own culinary background, or was it more of a conscious choice you made specific to Nora’s character?

KF: It’s a little bit of both, I think. I’m from Maryland, where we’re know more for our blue crab feasts than barbecue, but I grew up next to the grill while my dad cooked his famous pork ribs. Like Nora says in the book, barbecue has its own language and I feel closest to the North Carolina style, with an emphasis on pork.

When I wrote Nora, I wanted to write her as a spunky, present-day Joey Potter (from Dawson’s Creek): a not-so-rich, not-so-uppity smartass who could hold her own next to tough competitors. I wanted her to be an expert in something that wasn’t considered “fancy” so that she could prove that the art of cooking isn’t just about ingredients – it’s about technique and flavor, too.

TD: One of the (many, many) things I loved about Taste Test was how each dish cooked by a teen contestant on the show reflected his or her personality. What was your method for coming up with the right choice for each character? Did you have to make lists and charts, or were you able to come up with the right food-fits on the fly?

KF: I think the food writing was, by far, the most difficult part – I worried a lot about things feeling authentic. It’s surprisingly (or not surprisingly?) hard to write that momentum of a food competition – the vigor and energy, along with the cooking itself. I’m glad you feel like the food reflects the contestants because I tried to make sure each contestant, especially Nora and Christian, was cooking food that they had experience with in their “everyday” life. I actually have a back log of recipes I didn’t use for the book because they really didn’t have a place in the final manuscript.

In terms of method, this is where I checked out the cooking competition Top Chef for ideas on themes and ingredients chefs gravitated toward. But, because this is a book for teens and I wanted teens to actually cook the recipes at the end of the book, I tried to pick things that would cater to their tastes as well.

Courtesy of YA Books Central, where you can enter another giveaway for Kelly's books! http://www.yabookscentral.com/blog/cover-reveal-just-like-the-movies-by-kelly-fiore-giveaway-us-only

Courtesy of YA Books Central, where you can enter another giveaway for Kelly’s books! (Click image to go to that post.)

TD: Taste Test is your debut novel, but you have more books on the way. Will they feature foodie themes, too, or go off in a different direction?

Unfortunately, no food 😦 But I have two books coming out over the next year and a half or so. Just Like the Movies is my sophomore novel, again from Bloomsbury USA. It’s about two girls – a bubbly-but-insecure track star and a quiet-but-sarcastic wallflower – who have nothing in common except an appreciation for great movies and the desire to have a perfect, Hollywood love story. When they meet by chance at a screening of Titanic, they formulate a plan to help spring their love lives into action – by using movie strategies made famous on screen. This book has everything – flash mobs, makeovers, meet-cutes, and, of course, the infamous John Cusack/Boombox scene – but this time, it’s using an iPod and speakers. 🙂 Just Like the Movies comes out in July of next year.

In contrast, my first novel with HarperTeen, The People Vs. Cecelia Price, is a far darker, more gritty subject. It’s still YA, but it focuses on the inner workings of a family that is struggling with addiction, and the aftermath of an unexpected death. The main character, Cecelia, is in custody for the murder of her brother, Cyrus. As we get to know CeCe, we find out how incredibly damaged and volatile her life had become – and how she had to shift from part time student to part time drug dealer in the blink of an eye. The People vs. Cecelia Price is scheduled to release in Winter 2015.

TD: These sound so different and intriguing, Kelly–congratulations on your success in writing and selling such a variety of books!

Last question: It’s Friday night. Are you at home trying a new recipe, or out on the town, trying an exciting new restaurant?

Since Book Club was last night and I had a delicious night out with some girlfriends, tonight I’m staying in. I think I’m going to make a spicy marinara with pasta for dinner tonight. I canned a heap of tomatoes over the summer, but I have a feeling they won’t last through to next year. Being married into an Italian family means Sunday Sauce (or Sunday Gravy, as some Italians call it) almost every weekend.

Thank you so much, Kelly! Happy writing (and eating)!

KFPhote3Kelly Fiore has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. She received an Individual Artist Award from the Mid Atlantic Arts Council in both 2005 and 2009. Her debut young adult novel, Taste Test, is available now from Bloomsbury USA. Her forthcoming titles include Just Like the Movies (July 2014, Bloomsbury USA) and The People Vs. Cecelia Price (Winter 2015, HarperTeen). She lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and two very feisty cats.

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Giveaway details: Kelly has been kind enough to offer the following prizes for one lucky commenter! (This is a US-only giveaway.)

-a signed hard copy of Taste Test
-a “foodie” charm bracelet with kitchen-themed charms

You can earn one entry by leaving a comment here, and up to two extra entries by posting about this interview on Twitter and/or Facebook! Please include a link to your tweet or FB status in your comment to qualify for the extra entries.

Sample tweet:
Win a signed copy of @kellyannfiore‘s TASTE TEST at @TaraDairman inaugural #FoodieKidlitFriday interview! http://bit.ly/1apItGj

Sample Facebook status:
Meet YA author Kelly Fiore and enter to win a signed copy of her foodie novel TASTE TEST! http://bit.ly/1apItGj

Thanks again for reading and entering! Good luck!

Links, a giveaway, preorders, ARCs, and a new interview series!

Whew! I guess the title says it all. Dear blog readers, it seems that I have quite a few things to catch you up on! Let’s jump right in.

Fair Coin by E.C. Myers1) I have a new post up at Emu’s Debuts called “How Being a Debut Author Turned Me Into a Book-Buyer” (which is also rather self-explanatory as blog post titles go). In the comments section, I ask people to share their own book-buying habits and advice on how to choose which books to buy and which ones to borrow. And all commenters are entered into…

2) A giveaway of Fair Coin by E.C. Myers! The winner will be announced next Monday, November 18, so please leave your comment this week if you’d like to enter. You will have your choice of a hardcover, e-book, or the brand-spanking-new audiobook of this fabulous, Andre Norton Award-winning novel if you win!

3) If you clicked on that Fair Coin link above, you found yourself at IndieBound.org, a great site that helps you find books you want for sale at your local independent bookstore. And guess what other book you can now find on that site, and from several other booksellers? (Hint: I wrote it.)

That’s right–All Four Stars is now available for preorder! The sites where you can order it are all linked on this website’s Books page. I’ll make additional links active as it becomes available from more booksellers. The book releases officially on July 10, 2014. Exciting!

ARCs of ALL FOUR STARS!4) Even more exciting than seeing my book for sale online has been holding the advance reading copies (also known as ARCs, or bound galleys) in my hands! They arrived on my doorstep in October, and they are gorgeous. All but one are already out there circulating among early readers, but I hope to get a few back and be able to do a giveaway or two at some point. Stay tuned!

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore 5) And last, but not least, I will be kicking off a brand-new blog series right here two days! It’s called “Foodie Kidlit Friday,” and will focus on awesome books for kids and young adults (and, let’s face it, us adults who love kidlit!) that feature food and cooking themes. I’ll be getting things started with an interview of Kelly Fiore, whose debut YA novel Taste Test (set at a reality cooking show for teens) released recently and knocked my socks off. And one lucky commenter will win a signed copy from Kelly!

I’ll be aiming to do this series every other Friday (on weeks alternating with the Colorado is for Writers series, which posts every other Tuesday). And in addition to interviews, I’m also planning to start sharing recipes for dishes featured in All Four Stars! So, this should be a very fun series indeed.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but pop back by on Friday for the Taste Test extravaganza. Thanks!

Interview with Colorado Author Maryanne Fantalis!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am thrilled to welcome my friend, writing-date buddy, and fellow ex-East-Coaster Maryanne Fantalis!

Maryanne-1First things first: Colorado native or transplant? Transplant. Once we had children, my husband and I really wanted a change of lifestyle from the east coast. The minute we got off the plane and saw mountains from the airport, I knew this was the right place for us. Unfortunately, FedEx won’t ship kids, so we did have to go back and sell the house and move our stuff. We’ve never looked back (although we do miss the bagels and the pizza…)

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress! Right now, I’m querying a book called Finding Kate, which is a historical fiction based on William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew. I also write young adult fiction. To support this habit, I do freelance writing and teach creative writing to middle school and high school students.

Maryanne's viewWhat’s the view like from your favorite writing space? Although I have a room in our walk-out basement that’s supposed to be my office, it’s also the work-out room, a part-time guest room, and the general dumping space for stuff no one knows where else to put. I love the color of the room, and the stuff on the walls and the desk all have meaning to me, but I can’t work in a messy, multi-purpose space like that, so I do most of my work in the dining room upstairs. It doesn’t have my personal stuff, but it does have a great view from the windows. This is a recent sunset, with the foothills of the Rocky Mountains off the west (right) and Pike’s Peak a solitary lump in the center of the photo (100 miles away).

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado? The other writers! I have met such great writers since moving here, people with great talent, skill and drive. Most of them have recently become published which gives me hope. I am humbled and honored to be included in their supportive, lively community.

Thank you so much, Maryanne–I’m honored to be part of this writing community, too. And I also miss the bagels and pizza from the east coast (though Moe’s out here isn’t too bad!). Good luck querying Finding Kate!

Fellow transplants (to Colorado, or elsewhere): What do you miss most about your hometown? Feel free to share in the comments!

Interview with Colorado Author Lindsay Eland!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am thrilled to welcome middle-grade author–and the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Rocky Mountain chapter of SCBWILindsay Eland!

Lindsay Eland First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

I am a Colorado transplant. I grew up in Pennsylvania–Pittsburgh, Punxsutawney (yep, with good old Punxsutawney Phil), and State College—then moved out to tornado country for college…cue music for Oklahoma! That’s where I met my husband. We got hitched and had two of our four kiddos there as well. But we knew we weren’t “home” yet because the words “small town” and “mountains” were always written on both of our hearts. So just one month after our second was born, we moved up to Breckenridge, Colorado where we found home sweet home and had our other two kids. We’ve been here for the past eleven years and have no desire to go anywhere else.

SummerSundays_FINALcvrTell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

I write heartwarming, humorous middle grade novels for readers ages 9 to 99. My first book, Scones and Sensibility, was released by Egmont USA in 2009 and is about an overly romantic and overly dramatic girl who sets to matchmaking in her small beach town with disastrous and hilarious results. My second book, A Summer of Sundays, which released this past July, is about an 11-year-old girl named Sunday Fowler who feels left out and forgotten in her large family and so spends her summer trying to make her mark. It’s a story that celebrates family, books, friendship, honesty, and finding your place in a crowded world—something that we all long for. As to something new, I always have a work-in-progress in my back pocket…so stay tuned!

Photo on 2012-10-01 at 10.42What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

Gorgeous! We live at the base of Baldy Mountain, so my view is snow-capped mountains in the winter, electric-yellow aspen trees in the fall, messy mud in the spring, and wild flowers in the summer. It’s paradise.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

Colorado is a playground for the senses with inspiration staring at you everywhere you turn. There is also an amazing group of supportive writers and it is a place where people appreciate and celebrate creativity, beauty, words, and art. Can’t get any better than that!

Thank you so much, Lindsay! I’m a huge fan of both Jane Austen and scones, so hearing the title of your first book always makes my mouth water. 🙂

Fellow writers: Does the view from your favorite writing spot change with the seasons like Lindsay’s does? If so, which seasonal view is your favorite? Share in the comments!

 

Interview with Colorado author Donna Cooner!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am thrilled to welcome young adult author Donna Cooner!

Donna’s widely praised debut YA novel SKINNY was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award, and she has another novel on the way. Let’s get to know her!

Donna CoonerFirst things first: Colorado native or transplant? 

I was born and raised in Texas.  I moved to Colorado about fifteen years ago and feel very fortunate to be able to live where Texans go to vacation! Most of my family is still in Texas, but I don’t think I’ll ever move back. I love Colorado.

Skinny coverTell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My debut novel, SKINNY, was published by Scholastic last October and in the UK (Egmont) in February, 2013. It’s a contemporary story set in my home state of Texas about a girl who dreams of being a singer, but is held back by her negative, self-critical inner voice she calls “Skinny.” I’m currently working on my second book, SENSATIONAL, a contemporary set in the same Texas town. It will be published by Scholastic and Egmont in 2014.

Donna's officeWhat’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I recently remodeled my study to better fit my writing needs. One of the coolest additions was a movable scene board (see picture). I can slide scene cards up into the tracks, much like an order rack at a restaurant, and rearrange them as needed. I’m usually have great company sharing my writing space–like Stu, my cat and the star of SENSATIONAL, and Roxanne, the Goat Dog, who is featured in SKINNY. And, of course, there are lots and lots of books.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

The best thing about being a Colorado writer is right outside my window. There is always an opportunity to get outside and breathe in the inspiration. When I’m stuck, I head to the open spaces, look to the foothills, and walk away my story issues. Sometimes with music, sometimes without. The Colorado views never fail to deliver what I need to replenish my writing drive.

Thank you so much, Donna! I’m with you 100% about the views, and I love your new scene board!

Fellow writers: Have any of your pets snuck into your stories the way Donna’s have? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks, and links

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed me, and shared links on Twitter and Facebook about my recent post “First drafting: Now 96% faster.” I’m so glad to hear that some of the techniques I shared are resonating with fellow writers. I’m planning to do a (much shorter) follow-up post soon on a wacky new revision technique I’ve been trying, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I have two new blog posts up elsewhere today:

Kayak In “So much for a quiet summer” (at Emu’s Debuts), I talk about all of the progress that’s happened on All Four Stars (copyedits! first pass pages! cover!) during the supposedly “slow” publishing season of summer.

SKY JUMPERSAnd in “GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Peggy Eddleman, Author of SKY JUMPERS,” (at OneFourKidLit) I talk to the terrific Peggy about her debut middle-grade post-apocalyptic adventure book, which I (and, more importantly, my MG-aged writing students!) couldn’t put down.

And tomorrow, right here, the Colorado is for Writers series will pick up again with Donna Cooner, author of the YA novel Skinny! See you there.

Interview with Colorado author Kristi Helvig!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am thrilled to welcome young adult (and fellow 2014 debut) author Kristi Helvig!

Kristi is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. She can be found musing about space monkeys, Star Trek, and various other topics on her blog. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and two behaviorally-challenged dogs. Find out more about Kristi at www.kristihelvig.com; she can also be found on Goodreads/Twitter/Facebook.

On to the questions!

Kristi Helvig

First things first: Colorado native or transplant? 

Transplant. My hubby and I came out here from the East Coast to do internships for our Ph.D. program. We loved it so much that we never left, and have been here 14 years and counting. Does that make us semi-native? 😉

 

 

BURN OUT Cover

Tell us a bit about your book.

BURN OUT is my debut YA sci-fi novel. It will be published by EgmontUSA on April 8, 2014. Here is the official blurb from Goodreads:

Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

 
Kristi's writing habitat

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?
Even though I have a desk, I do all my best writing right in this spot surrounded by my dogs. My hubby says I’m a little like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory because that spot on the couch is “mine.” I twitch a little if someone else sits there, but don’t we all have a little Sheldon in us?

 

 

 

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

Meeting all the other awesome Colorado writers. Plus, the scenery here can’t be beat and is great for creativity. My writer friends and I are going to do a weekend writing retreat in the mountains in a few weeks, and I love just being in nature and writing. It’s probably the only place I like to write besides my couch!

Thank you so much, Kristi! Fellow writers and scenery also regularly duke it out for the top spot in my list of reasons to love Colorado.

Readers: Do you think Kristi should get “semi-native” status? And do you have a little Sheldon in you? Let us know what you think in the comments! 🙂


Also, BURN OUT is already available for preorder! Find it at B&N * Amazon * BAM * Powell’s * Indigo

Interview with Colorado author Natasha Wing!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am thrilled to welcome prolific picture-book author Natasha Wing!

Natasha is the author of the “Night Before” series of picture books, which include several titles (like THE NIGHT BEFORE PRESCHOOL,THE NIGHT BEFORE KINDERGARTEN, and THE NIGHT BEFORE FIRST GRADE) that are perfect back-to-school reads. You can learn about these books and more at her website. Let’s get to know Natasha!

Natasha WingFirst things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Transplant. I moved here three years ago with my husband from northern California. He retired early and I can write anywhere, so we were looking for a place that was sunnier than the foggy California coast. He’s a mountain bike rider and I like to hike, so we chose Fort Collins.

 

 

The Night Before Preschool

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

I have a series of books based on the beloved The Night Before Christmas story. It’s a paperback series with holiday and school-themed stories. With school about to start up, there are three titles about preschool, Kindergarten and first grade.

The Night Before KindergartenParents have e-mailed me that the books have been conversation starters for them and their kids, prompting to talk about what to expect on the first day of school. And since the stories rhyme, kids love them! There are schools that use my Night Before books as a welcome present for kids, which I think is such a great idea. It’s cool to think little Kindergartners across the country are reading my book and are excited about going to school.

 

Wing office

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I write in a spare bedroom upstairs that’s been converted into my office. I overlook open fields, which (until a new subdivision goes in someday) are peaceful to view. To the left in the distance is the Anheuser-Busch plant. To the right is a glimpse of Richard’s Lake and a peak of the Rockies.

 

Wing view

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

There are many things! I love that I live where the library is open seven days a week. Plus, the library has many programs for writers. It’s wonderful that we have a city-wide Fort Collins Reads event where citizens are encouraged to read one book and discuss it. This year, it’s In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. He wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Devil in the White City, so I’m excited to go see him when he comes in November.

Kindergarten giftsetAlso, I’m glad to have a regional chapter of the professional children’s writers organization I belong to, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, right here in Fort Collins. Then there’s Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall, with its liquid yellow aspens that have inspired me to write some haiku (not published, though). People here are friendly, too, so I feel like I’ve met a lot of writers who are kind and generous with their advice and support. That’s a lot of best things!

Thank you, Natasha! How wonderful to know that your books are helping kids get ready for their first days at school.

Readers: Can you remember a book from your childhood that helped you prepare for a big life event, like a first day at school? Please share in the comments!

Interview with Colorado author Jessica Lawson!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am over the moon to be welcoming my good friend Jessica Lawson!

You might already know Jessica through her fantastic blog, Falling Leaflets, which educates aspiring writers about craft and agent-querying (the sidebar links alone are worth their weight in gold).

Or maybe you’ve heard great things about her debut middle-grade novel, THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER, which is coming in summer 2014 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. (I might have been the one who told you those great things. I adore this book!)

Or maybe you don’t know Jessica at all yet. Let’s fix that right now!

Jessica Lawson

The lovely Jessica!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

I’m a transplant, via a suburb of Chicago and Indiana. I went to college here because I thought Colorado/the mountains sounded like a beautiful change, but headed back to the Midwest for grad school. Turns out I couldn’t stay away from the mountain air and 300-plus days of sunshine. The view from my small-town home is the best I’ve had in my 30-some years—the mountain silhouette around twilight has a way of making every evening magical. The stars are pretty spectacular as well. 🙂

Please tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER is part origin story, part retelling of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, written from Becky’s point of view. Though much of the plot is fun/adventure/cherry-spitting/bacon-eating based, there is an internal plot thread that deals with grieving and loss. The publisher is Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and the publication date is set for Summer 2014.

The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher - cover

The gorgeous cover for Jessica’s book, by Iacopo Bruno!

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

The view from my writing space faces one of my favorite places in the house: the kitchen. The kitchen table (or “the office,” as I now call it) allows me to look right at my daughter’s rotating list of reading words stuck on the refrigerator: Who, What, Why, When are the ones I’m looking at right now. And a butterfly decorated at the library. Inspiration indeed. 🙂

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

For me, it’s living closer to a natural landscape and having mountains always on the horizon—my family has a national forest trail right down the road and we’ve got wildlife fiddling around the neighborhood on a regular basis…okay, so I could do without the black bears attacking my trash bin, but the daily possibility of seeing foxes and deer right outside my door provides a sense of wonder that meshes well with the journey of writing for children. And taking hikes with my little ones reminds me of the very unique, very cool way that those younger than us see the world.

Thank you so much, Jessica! I, too, moved to Colorado to live closer to nature, so I’m definitely with you on that. 

Jessica and me earlier this year. Critique partner love!

Jessica and me earlier this year. Critique partner love!

Also, how great does Jessica’s book sound?! 2014 can’t come fast enough. 🙂

Readers: Do you have a favorite retelling of a classic piece of literature? Or if you were going to retell a classic story yourself, which one would you choose, and whose perspective would you tell it from? Please share in the comments!

Interview with Colorado author Jeannie Mobley!

Colorado is for writersWelcome to the inaugural interview in my new series, Colorado is for Writers! Every other Tuesday, I’ll be talking to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. And this week we have a giveaway, too! See the end of the post for details.

Now, who better to kick things off than (spoiler alert!) Colorado native—and newly-minted winner of the prestigious Colorado Book AwardJeannie Mobley? Welcome, Jeannie!Author Jeannie Mobley

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Native, born and bred. In fact, my mother was also born in Colorado, as were both of her parents, in 1910 and 1912 respectively, so our family has some pretty deep roots here. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are a bunch of homebodies that never get out. We’ve explored pretty much every inch of the state in our summer camping and hiking adventures over the years, as well as traveling around much of the West. It was all that daydreaming in the car, on the trail, or at night under the stars that honed my writer’s imagination as a kid. That’s why Colorado/Western history features prominently in much of my writing.

Katerina's Wish by Jeannie MobleyPlease tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My first book, KATERINA’S WISH, was published in fall of 2012, and just won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for juvenile fiction! (Which I hope means books for juveniles, rather than being a reflection on my own personality.) It is the story of an immigrant family in the coal mining communities of southern Colorado at the beginning of the 20th century. Trina’s family came to America for a farm, but end up barely scraping by in the coal mines. Then Trina sees a fish that reminds her of a folk tale about a fish that grants wishes. She wishes for her family’s dream of a farm, and lucky things begin to happen. But is it magic, or is something else behind their success? It is the story of one family’s American dream, and the risks they must take to make a dream come true.

Jeannie's teenage grandmother and her friends at the family cabin in Silverplume, Colorado, during prohibition (which, you can see, they weren't exactly in accordance with)

Jeannie’s teenage grandmother and her friends at the family cabin in Silverplume, Colorado, during prohibition (which, you can see, they weren’t exactly in accordance with)

My second book, SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, will be published in fall 2014. It is the story of 13-year-old Pearl Rose Barnell, a romantic girl who waits tables in the Silverheels Café and delights in telling tourists a local legend of the dancehall girl Silverheels. But, as the summer of 1917 heats up, so too does the First World War, along with accusations of un-American behavior and the outrageous fanaticism of a local suffragist, with whom Pearl has taken a potentially dangerous bet.

Beyond those, I have a variety of other projects in the works, ranging from contemporary humor to historical fiction. I seem to get new ideas for stories much faster than I can turn them into books.

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I like to write either outside or where I can see the outside. When the weather is conducive, I write at my picnic table on the back patio. When it is either too hot or too cold for that, I work in the sunroom on the back of my house that looks out onto our back yard. It’s not a big back yard, but the trees and bushes make it feel peaceful and somewhat secluded (even though it really isn’t). And even though my room is called a “sunroom” I love working out here in the winter when the snow is falling outside the windows. Very peaceful.

Jeannie's family setting off on a camp trip, circa 1978. (That's Jeannie and her malamute in the backseat.)

Jeannie’s family setting off on a camping trip, circa 1978 (that’s Jeannie and her malamute in the backseat)

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

I love Colorado because of the scenery, the outdoor lifestyle, and because my family and my memories are here. I used to love it for the weather, too, although this year I’m not so sure. I could be a writer anywhere, but at heart, I am a mountain person. Mountains feed my soul better than any other kind of landscape. I listen to the mountains—there are stories in the silences of the high elevations and the old ghost towns. There are places where stopping and doing nothing is very productive. Where the stillness, the vastness, the timelessness bring my senses to hyper-awareness. The Colorado Rockies* awaken a sense of wonder in me that I try to keep at the heart of my writing life. I could work in another environment, but why would I want to?

*This refers to the mountains, not the baseball team. Although the MLB Colorado Rockies also awaken a sense of wonder—as in, I wonder why they can’t ever get a decent bullpen???

Thank you so much, Jeannie! 

Giveaway: Would you like to win a signed copy of KATERINA’S WISH (complete with a shiny gold “Colorado Book Award Winner” sticker on the cover)? Just leave a comment that answers this question: What kind of landscape leaves you with a sense of wonder? The winner will be announced next Tuesday, July 23.