In celebration of Children’s Book Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with our friends in the literary world.Children’s Book Week is the national celebration of books and reading for youth. We hope you enjoy reading about some of our favorite authors. We really enjoyed putting this series together!
Today’s post is a guest interview, conducted by StorySnoops’ favorite book club, the Green Oompa Loompas.
Hi! We’re a group of fifth grade girls that are in a book club called the Green Oompa Loompas. Our names are: Holly, Hailey Anne, Julia, Avery, Hayley Kay, Gabby, Eva, and Maddy. We like to read books by different authors and all kinds of genres and talk about random things. This month, we read 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. We have also read another book of hers called The Candymakers. We love this author, so we decided to interview her to get to know her a little better.
Where did you come up with the idea for 11 Birthdays?
I wanted to write a lighthearted book about friendship and forgiveness and second chances. Somehow second chances turned into eleven chances! I was also really interested in writing a time travel book, but there seemed to be a bunch of those out, so instead I made them stuck in time. The same—but different.
What were you like when you were eleven, and if you could, what would you go back and say to the eleven year old you?
I was pretty fearless back then. I remember riding down a hill on my skateboard as though nothing was wrong with that idea. Of course I wound up bloody and bruised at the bottom! I think I worried a lot too, though. That year (5th grade) was hard because none of my friends were in my class and I had to make all new ones. If I could talk to 11 year old me, I’d tell myself to pay more attention in class, wear a helmet when skateboarding, and not to care when no one picked me to be on their team in gym class!
We know that your book Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is being made into a movie. Do you have plans to make any of your other books into movies?
Jeremy Fink is supposed to be out this summer, which is very exciting. I can’t wait to see it! None of the other books are headed to the screen any time soon, but hopefully in the future. I’d love to see 11 Birthdays made into a film, or The Candymakers.
What inspires the characters you write about? Where do you come up with them?
To create characters, I sit down and interview them. I ask a list of 20 questions and then the person comes to life through their answers. Things like, “What do you look like, what is your family like, your personality, strengths, weaknesses, etc.” That way each character is unique because I’ll pick different answers up front for them. I try to create people that the reader will care about, whether or not they completely identify with them.
Which character in all of your books is most like you?
Hmm…well, maybe Mia from my first novel, A Mango-Shaped Space. I think I put more of myself and my own experiences in the earlier books. But in a sense, every character (even the boys) has a part of me in them. I think that’s how it is with every writer, even when we try to avoid it.
How long does it take you to write a book?
That depends on how much research is involved. With real fact-based ones like A Mango-Shaped Space, or Every Soul a Star, which is about astronomy, or even The Candymakers, it took about a year or two. With the ones like 11 Birthdays or Finally, which require much less time reading other books or teaching myself new subjects, it’s closer to 8 months.
J.K. Rowling’s book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was rejected by publishers eleven times before it was finally accepted. How many times was your first book rejected, if any?
Hey, J.K. Rowling and I have something in common! Eleven sounds about right. I had many more than that (50!!) if you include other attempts both before and after the first novel came out. The whole process really taught me about the importance of perseverance, and about not giving up on something if it’s really important to you.
What book are you working on right now, and when is your next book coming out?
My next book, 13 Gifts, is coming out in September, followed by a fairy tale series called Twice Upon a Time that will be out the following spring/summer, followed by my first attempt at science fiction, which I’m really excited about. Then I get to rest for like, a week, and then it starts back up again.
Thank you for your time, Ms. Mass! We love you!
I love you guys, too!! Keep reading!!
For more information on Wendy and her books, visit her website. Check back tomorrow to hear from award-winning Australian author Richard Newsome. We’ve had a great time putting together these Children’s Book Week interviews and hope you’ll check out the entire series here, and let us know what you think!