That would be Wendy Mass! Wendy is an amazing author who has a keen knack for writing for tweens. Her sixth sense in what appeals to them and what their experiences are is nothing short of uncanny. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Wendy since the first Princeton Children's Book Festival back in 2004. She has been a pleasure to know and to work with through these years. This will be Wendy’s fourth visit to the festival, but this time I thought she deserves a little more recognition.
I was contemplating what I would write for my blog installment, when it hit me—ask Wendy a few choice questions. So, without any further ado here is my interview with the “Goddess of Tween Novels” … Wendy Mass.
Me: Describe yourself as a middle school girl. Were there any similarities between you and characters in your books?
Wendy: Well, in my middle school yearbook I was voted "Most Likely to Solve the Rubik's Cube" so that gives you a little insight into my coolness factor! Other than my obsession with small plastic multicolored games, I think my experience was pretty normal — just trying to keep it all together while you change every day. I'll take details from my experiences and fictionalize them, but they are usually little things. That's why I encourage any young person who likes to write to keep a Writer's Notebook and jot down what goes on around you — the girl who shows up to math class orange from a botched self-tanning incident. Or the girl who sits behind you in social studies reading the romance novel inside her text book. Or the boy who slips out the window in history class and returns with a pizza. Who needs to make stuff up when you have middle school?
Me: Was there a particular book your read that influenced you to become an author?
Wendy: In seventh grade I read a book by Edith Konecky called "Allegra Maud Goldman." It was about a girl who wanted to be a writer and it really opened my eyes to that possibility. It was also really funny and quirky. Other than that, I just loved to read so much that I wanted to be a part of the world of books. I worked at my public library at 14, and my local bookstore at 17, then went into the publishing field after college. I was pretty single-minded in my goals to write for kids and teens (a huge roll of rejection letters attests to that!), and am very honored to be allowed to do it today.
Me: Of all your books which was the most difficult to write? Which was the easiest or most fun?
Easiest first–a tie between "Leap Day" (a book for teens that all took place on one day) and "11 Birthdays" (a book for 4th grade and up about a girl whose 11th birthday keeps repeating). Those two, "Leap Day" especially, just flew out of me and were a joy to write. I also had a lot of fun with "Rapunzel, The One With All The Hair." Then "A Mango-Shaped Space" and "Every Soul A Star" were probably the hardest. I had to balance teaching the reader about the topic (synesthesia and astronomy respectively) while also trying to tell an engaging story. It was a hard balance.
Me: Give us a teaser please. What is new and exciting that your fans can look forward to?
Wendy: "Beauty and the Beast," the third book in the "Twice Upon a Time" fairy tale series, just came out. Then next spring will bring "Pi in the Sky" about a boy who finds himself with the surprising task of rebuilding the solar system after it has mysteriously disappeared. It's science fiction, but wacky.
Me: When you aren’t busy being the fabulous author Wendy Mass, tell us about just being the fabulous Wendy.
Wendy: I have 6-year-old twins who are starting first grade this year, so I try to be fabulous Mommy! They come with me sometimes to book events. In kindergarten when asked what their parents do for a living, my son replied, "My daddy is a teacher, my mommy signs books." I had to laugh at that! If only i could skip the writing and go straight to the signing! :o)
So there you have it, folks. Wendy will be with us on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival. She will be seated in the red tent/table area at table 6. Be sure to stop by and say hello!
Wendy's photo courtesy of authorbytes.com