Where did you get the idea for this book?
In the shower. I know, weird. But I had just submitted an idea about another story to my agent that wasn’t working and I had to do major rewrites and I was stressed. I got in the shower and stood there for a long time and the ideas started coming about a boy who couldn’t feel fear. I wondered how that could work in a story and what would be the scenario/plot he’d be involved in and it just sprouted into life. I’m now a huge advocate of promoting hygiene. Showers rock!
What is your favorite scene in THE WORLD’S GREATEST ADVENTURE MACHINE?
That’s a tough one! I have so many, but I love little Cameron and I suppose
the scene where he faces the giant moose is one of my all-time favorites. I personally have issues with moose. They’re like giant, alien deer. They freak me out and I projected my fear onto the page and poor Cameron had to endure it.
What did this story teach you about writing?
That sometimes it takes major rewrites to create something special. I had to rework so much of this novel that I’m sure I lost half the hairs on my head. I also learned that the creation process may begin with one author, but there’s no way I can take all the credit. My editor, my agent, my beta readers, my family, they all played a huge role in helping the story come to life.
What has been your greatest adventure in life so far?
My kids. My life has never been the same since my family expanded. I recently took my 15-year-old driving. I might as well have been on the Adventure Machine myself. Had giant bug creatures suddenly appeared and chased us down the road, I would not have been surprised. As a parent, I want so much happiness for my kids and through them I can live on, even when my old body doesn’t want to cooperate with adventures.
What advice do you have for those chasing their own adventures?
Give yourself a chance to live and enjoy life, but don’t forget that friendships and family can enhance that adventure. So often we feel that to truly have an adventure we need to tackle it as a solo mission. I disagree. Just as in any of my favorite middle grade novels, the main character rarely has to go alone. That’s how it should be (in most cases) in life too.
What is your favorite thing about middle grade?
I love that age. Some of my fondest memories happened when I was 12-13 years old. Real freedom and innocence exists at that age, and I love the fact that Harry Potter starts in middle grade. You can grow with characters in a middle grade novel or series. And I’ve always felt the right middle grade story never cheapens the experience by leaving out the gritty details that are often reserved for older books, but the level of adventure and excitement can be equally as satisfying.
Can you please list your top 3 middle grade reads?
Any one of the Harry Potter novels (though the older ones are more YA), The Graveyard Book is fantastic (I think that’s middle grade), and I really enjoyed the whole Fablehaven series.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to write middle grade?
Try to follow this basic system when creating your main middle grade character. Give them a talent (skill, attribute, ability), a weakness, a secret, a goal, and a friend. Some of these can be combined easily enough. Your main character can go through difficult scenes alone, if necessary, but it works better if the prospect of friendship exists early on in the book.