Showing posts with label middle grade books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label middle grade books. Show all posts

August 11, 2014

Interview with author of The Briny Deep Mysteries trilogy

The new sci-fi/mystery trilogy, The Briny Deep Mysteries, is coming out September 1st, and it's going to be filled with twists and exciting turns that will keep middle graders reading!  To learn more about the writing of this exciting trilogy, we sat down with author Jennifer Torres:

Enslow Publishers: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Jennifer Torres: Since I was very young, I’ve always loved getting lost in a good book. Reading really fueled my imagination. I especially loved to read mysteries and stories about fantastical places. As I got older the idea of creating my own magical lands through writing was so exciting I just had to pursue it.

Enslow: How did you begin your writing career?

Torres: I began writing in journals as a child. My friends and I would also write scripts and plays and then share them with each other to review – and sometimes to act out.  After finishing school, I became a newspaper reporter and columnist. Over the years I worked as freelance journalist, writing for local and national magazines and newspapers. I’ve also written seven non-fiction children’s books, but THE BRINY DEEP MYSTERIES is my debut into middle grade fiction – and truly the kind of writing I’ve always wanted to do. 

Enslow: What inspired you to write “The Briny Deep” trilogy?

Torres: All the books I read growing up captured my imagination with incredible, edge of your seat stories that often involved secret passageways, doorways to other lands, or a compelling mystery seemingly beyond explanation. When I created the town of Briny Deep, I wanted to construct a place that had never existed before, populate it with a cast of amazing characters, and weave a spellbinding mystery that would engage and captivate readers in the same way I was as a child.

Enslow: Where there any particular obstacles you encountered while writing this book?

Torres: My ten year old was a bit of an obstacle because she wanted to use my laptop all the time to play her computer games. I tried to stick to an early morning schedule of writing – way before she woke up, so I didn’t have to wrestle her for it.

Enslow: When do you write best?

Torres: During the week, I like to get up early while it’s still dark outside and everyone else in the family is asleep. I brew a big cup of coffee and try to get a few hours of writing in. I feel most creative in the morning. But I also love to write when it’s raining outside or a storm is brewing. It really sets the mood for me.

Enslow:  If you weren’t a writer, what might you be doing instead?

Torres: I would be a detective or a private investigator.  I grew up wanting to solve mysteries. My childhood friend and I even opened our own “detective agency” – her dad built it for us in her backyard and we kept “files” on everyone in the neighborhood.

Enslow: What is your favorite children’s book?

Torres: I have so many books that I loved when I was growing up. My top three books would have to be; The Phantom Tollbooth, Harriet the Spy (she kept notes on everyone in her neighborhood too,) and A Wrinkle in Time.  Middle Grade books are my very favorite genre. The kind of books with secret passageways, time portals, and hidden paths to magical lands are the best.

Enslow: What kind of experience do you hope your readers have with “The Briny Deep” trilogy?

Torres: I want them to go on a thrilling ride, filled with fun twists and turns through the town of Briny Deep. As they read the series they should feel like they are on an adventure – and a quest for answers that keeps them excitedly reading until the wee hours of the morning, and leaves them with a true awareness of how much magic and wonder can be found inside a book.

Look for The Disappearing, The Return, and The Battle on, or with your favorite bookseller.  

November 29, 2012

Interview With Author, Sara Latta

What do these books all have in common? Yes, they are all Enslow books. But besides that, they were all written by author, Sara Latta. We thought it would fun to share our interview with Sara, a girl who was raised on a dairy farm in Kansas and grew up to become an author. Enjoy!

Enslow: Has anything in your upbringing influenced your interest in writing nonfiction?
Sara: I'm a science writer, so my interest in nonfiction grows out of my love of science. I was raised on a farm, and I was captivated by the world around me. I studied the behavior of red ants and discovered that they will bite when provoked. That was a painful lesson! My mother was understanding of dead birds in the freezer and the experiments with baby teeth and sugar. I thought I'd be a scientist when I was in college; I had a double major in Microbiology and English. It was only when I was in grad school that I realized that I'd rather write about science than DO science. 

Sara Latta at a school visit.

Enslow: If you could give a beginning writer advice, what would it be?
Sara:  Read, read, read, especially in the genre that interests you. And I mean read with a really critical eye. How does the author use everyday language to express complex issues? What is the role of narrative--everyone likes a good story! Familiarize yourself with your subject. Since I am a science writer, this often requires reading a lot of technical articles, but when you interview a scientist about his or her work, you want to show that you've done your homework in advance.
Enslow: Can you recall a specific challenge you had writing any of these books?
Sara:  You know, the three forensic science books (Bones: Dead People DO Tell Tales; Cybercrime: Data Trails DO Tell Tales; and DNA & Blood: Dead People DO Tell Tales) posed a real psychological challenge to me. I spent a good amount of time immersed in and writing about really horrible people and their horrific deeds. I wanted to tell the stories of how investigators used forensic science to solve real crimes, but I had to make sure the stories were appropriate for middle grade readers. It wasn't always easy.

Enslow: How did you overcome it?
Sara:  I finished the books.
Enslow: What is your main concern when writing nonfiction for children or young adults?
Sara: Well, good writing is good writing, so that's the main thing. But writing for children and young adults also requires putting yourself into the mind of the reader. I try to think about the metaphors that they would understand, and which concepts can they handle, especially those that might be disturbing or too abstract. But I think the key is to not underestimate the intelligence and curiosity of kids, and I don't talk down to them. I assume that they haven't bought into the idea that physics or chemistry or biology is hard. I'm hoping that my readers are the kind of kids who found out the hard way that red ants bite when provoked.
Enslow: Do you write only nonfiction?
Sara: I wrote a picture book about dark matter (Stella Brite and the Dark Matter Mystery, Charlesbridge, 2006), which is fiction but about science--something my friend Jacqueline Houtman calls sciencey fiction. And I have a couple of unfinished young adult fiction manuscripts that I hope will someday appear on bookshelves.
Enslow: Where is your favorite writing space?
Sara: My office. I'm fortunate that I have a room of my own, as Virginia Woolf put it. My husband bought me a comfortable writing chair, and I also have a sofa for reading and/or napping as the need arises. 

Sara's writing space.
Enslow: What types of books do you enjoy reading?
Sara: I classify my books into two categories. I am a huge fan of audio books; I listen to them while walking, exercising, driving, doing dishes and laundry, etc. I tend to listen to mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction. I listened to all of the books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. The books I sit down and actually read are all over the map--fiction and nonfiction. I write a YA book review column for our local newspaper, so I read a lot of books for young adults. One of my favorites this year was Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity.

Enslow: Who would you trade places with for a day?
Sara: I'd love to be an explorer, to go where no one has gone before. The last great unexplored frontier today is the deep ocean, so I guess I'd like to trade places with an oceanographer and explorer like Sylvia Earle. I'm afraid she would find my life a bit dull, however.