Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, August 7, 2017

An Inside Look #29 - Season #TWO (AUTHOR Interview)

An Inside Look With Elly Swartz

(Author of Smart Cookie)

*This was a new feature I added to the blog during the summer of 2016.  It was a shot in the dark that it would work, but much to my surprise; it took off and over the last year I conducted 22 interviews with a variety of authors.  

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*I didn't have time for interviews during the school year, but I'm excited to be back for "season #TWO".  

*I'm hoping to run this feature at least once a week.  There is nothing more satisfying than sharing and promoting a book/author/character that I have fallen in love with.  

*Thank you to Elly for being the Seventh author of the new season.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first TWENTY-EIGHT interviews…

*This is a bit of a full-circle moment for me.  Elly was the first author I approached about "An Inside Look" feature on the blog.  She said yes and over the last couple of years we have formed a really great friendship.

*I so admire the work Elly does for children around the country.  She is so personable and has such a knack connecting with her readers.  I was over the moon excited when I learned she was coming out with a new novel.  

*Here is a link to my review of Smart Cookie...

*Thank you Elly for writing this novel for middle-grade readers and taking the time to share your thoughts with us here on the blog...

Smart Cookie
by Elly Swartz (Released January 30, 2018)

Finding Perfect
by Elly Swartz (Released October 18, 2018)

How did you come to know Frankie?

Frankie came to me with a burst. Which seems fitting once you get to know her. She was spunky and strong, with a great, big heart.

What do you think is Frankie's most admirable quality?

I think Frankie’s most wonderful quality is her ability to love so completely. She wraps her heart around the people in her world she cares most about.

What do you think Frankie can offer to other young people that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?

I hope that Frankie can show readers there is no cap on heart space. Love is boundless.

I also hope Frankie can offer a new lens to understand what it means to be and have a family. Family so much bigger than those with whom we’ve shared a bedroom, a childhood, or even a name. It is a big malleable circle, fluid and wonderful in all the forms it takes.

How did you research Frankie and the circumstances she found herself in?

Frankie’s story is all about family. For me, family is at the heart of everything I do and everything I am. I grew up with a very close family. And 27 years ago, married the love of my life and began my own wonderful family. But when I was thirty, my mom died. She was 55. Her loss opened a hole in my heart that left an unfillable void. Over the years, I’ve learned that family isn’t about having all the pieces back in place, it’s about having people in your life who love you unconditionally.

As for Elliot’s ghost hunting, well, that was sparked by my youngest son and one of his childhood friends. When they were eleven (now 22), they went ghost hunting at my husband’s office. My husband’s office is the John Ebenezer Hancock House in Boston, MA. It was built in 1767 and owned by John Hancock until 1785. It is the oldest brick building in Boston. That fateful night, the boys entered the building, turned off all the lights, and roamed the office with their ghost hunting laser. After about forty minutes of silence, the boys screamed. Loudly. The needle on the laser’s meter sprung to life, the hair on the boys’ arms stood up. They’d found a ghost. Maybe.

Gram’s hoarding was something I researched with the help of a hoarding specialist. Dr. Gail Steketee helped me understand Gram’s symptoms and behaviors, and vetted the book to be sure the manifestation was authentic. Additionally, I did more traditional research and further understood this condition from adults I know who hoard.

Finally, Lucy and Winston, Frankie’s pets and companions, came to the page right from my home. Lucy, my beagle, was about eight weeks old when I started writing Smart Cookie. She is all spunk and love. Just like Frankie. And, Winston was my youngest son’s pet named Hippie. She was an African Pygmy Hedgehog, who kept him company all night long.

Do you and Frankie share any similarities?

Yes. I actually think Frankie and I are a lot alike. We both love completely and unconditionally, and both of our stories are all about family. Additionally, as the youngest of two older brothers, I can be feisty, spunky, and fiercely determined. 

What was the hardest scene to write about Frankie?

The hardest scene to write was the pink roses scene. It broke my heart for Frankie to think she had lost her person. That she was all alone. That no one needed her. I could feel her pain and overwhelming sense of loneliness.

Who do you think was Frankie's biggest supporter?

I think Frankie had lots of supporters. That was what she finally realized when she went to the cemetery and spoke to her mom. “I get it now. You can have more than one person.” Frankie’s herd included so many: Dad, Gram, Annie, Jess, Elliot, Mable, all those at Mills, and so many in the town. She had a very big circle of love.

What do you think Frankie is doing as the present time? 
             Something with her herd. And still losing to Mable in gin.

No comments:

Post a Comment