Day 9. I review and talk about a lot of young adult novels here, but sometimes some middle grade gets mixed in there. :) I like middle grade, my go-to middle grade recommendation is Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, but I want to read more of it.
Joanne Levy currently lives in Ontario with her husband and kids of the furred and feathered variety. Being the youngest and only girl among four children, she was often left to her own devices and could frequently be found sitting in a quiet corner with her nose in a book. Her debut middle grade novel, Small Medium at Large, came out on July 3, 2012 by Bloomsbury. You can find her at her website and on Twitter. :)
Q: Since it's an event featuring Canadian authors, I figured I'd ask all the authors who chose the Q&A to say how they would count as a Canadian author, be it they were born here, lived here, or moved here. So, how Canadian are you?
A: I’m 100% Tim Horton’s swilling, back bacon eating, “A Boot” saying Canadian. Born and raised and super-proud to be a Canuck! Does it get any more Canadian? I don’t think so.
Q: What first inspired you to write Small Medium at Large? How hard was the transition from writing it as a YA novel to an MG novel?
A: I actually woke up with the title in my head one morning, so I guess I’d have to say recognizing that was a pretty awesome title was what inspired me to write the book. And you’re right-it started out as a YA, but a very wise editor said she liked my voice for a younger audience and asked if I would consider rewriting it as MG. That was tough—I’d never written MG before and hadn’t read any since I was a middle grader! But I did lots of research and reading and channeled my 12 year old tween self and VOILA! It appears I may have never grown up...
Q: How important was it to make Small Medium at Large a funny book? Do you think it's important for kids' books to be funny while also having those moments of seriousness and lesson-learning?
A: It was REALLY important to make it a funny book for two reasons: 1. That editor said she loved that it was funny, so I definitely needed to keep the funny. And 2. I love funny and can’t help but put humour into my writing. You may have figured it out by now, but I’m a goof and will do just about anything to get a laugh. And, well, LIFE is funny, so it makes sense to have humour in books, especially for kids. Kids love to laugh and even when we’re talking about serious subjects (like death) peppering in humour makes the hard stuff easier to take.
Q: When Small Medium at Large came out last summer, some of the Toronto book bloggers I've met online were there at the launch (and really enjoyed themselves). What was the launch like? Was it what you expected or was it more of a surprise? How supportive has the Toronto/GTA book community been?
A: The launch was AMAZING and I’m not just talking about the cupcakes (although they were really delicious). Much of what made that day awesome was thanks to the support of the GTA book bloggers (or “Blogettes”). I was very honoured that so many came out to celebrate with me and make the day so special. I’d met some of them at other book events (they are SO awesome and come out to lots of book signings—I can’t imagine a more supportive crew of book lovers!) but having them make the trek into town to be at mine was something I’ll never forget. Being that I’m an obsessive planner, the day went pretty much as I expected, only way better. I didn’t faint from nerves and signed a ton of books and lots of friends-old and new-came out to support me and my little book. Can you imagine a better day?
Q: Do you enjoy how easy it is for readers to connect with authors and other readers and fans of books through social media like Twitter and Facebook? Do you find yourself having to limit how often you're on Twitter so you can get back to writing?
A: I love how social media has made authors so accessible—and this goes both ways. I follow my lifetime author-crush Judy Blume on Twitter and love seeing what she’s up to. And I have connected with so many bloggers (Hi Lindsay!), teachers and librarians and have gotten the word out about my own book in a way that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago. With MG, it’s hard to get right to the readers, but through social media, I have been able to plan school Skype visits and distribute bookmarks to teachers and librarians to give to kids. That said, it can be a huge time suck, so when I’m actively writing, I need to close down Tweetdeck and really focus. Usually, it doesn’t stay closed for very long, but I’m working on it.
Q: Are you currently working on another book? Will there be another book set in Lilah's world?
A: I’m between projects right now, but I have a sequel to SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE written—it’s up to my publisher if they want to put it out in the world. But I really hope they do—it’s another fun story about Lilah, her friends and of course, her crush, Andy. I also have another MG and a YA written, but nothing’s official just yet. Keep an eye on my website or Twitter as I’ll surely yell from the rooftops when something exciting happens!
Q: Do you have a favourite part of Canada that you've lived in or visited? Or a favourite food (apart from poutine or Timbits ;))?
A: I haven’t done nearly enough traveling through Canada, but my husband and I are hoping to make it out east this summer. His family is from St. Johns and I can’t wait to visit—we’re big fans of The Republic of Doyle TV show and every week is like a teaser. Also, my favourite food is lobster, so that will work out well, I think. ;-)
Thank you for dropping by, Joanne. Go check out Small Medium at Large! :)