A few years ago I attended Kate Messner’s Swinger of Birches writing retreat on Lake Champlain for the first time. Many authors I met there have become writer pals for life. One who leaped out at me (figuratively! Ahem.) was Sarah Albee. Smart, funny, clever, talented, and kind could describe every writer there, but there was something so cool about Sarah. (Don’t you want to hang out with the author of Poop Happened? I do!) She’s a rockstar writer, a jock, a scholar, a fascinating blogger, a living Pantene commercial (check her gorgeous hair), she worked for Sesame Street, and, for kicks, she knows *everyone.* I mean everyone. She’s dined with diplomats and celebrated with celebrities. She puts Kevin Bacon to shame. Next to her, I grew up under a rock. But she didn’t mind meeting maggoty me. I’ve been so slow in joining her blog hop that I’m, perhaps, a blog flop, but here goes.
Sarah Albee is the author of dozens of books for children, across ages, genres, and even names – she writes under several pseudonyms. (Learn why here.) She writes fiction and nonfiction, and she even gets to write about celebrities (told you she knows everyone) like Elmo, Dora the Explorer, Diego, and SpongeBob. Her nonfiction works, including Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up (Walker Books, 2010) and her forthcoming Bugged: How Insects Changed History (Walker Books, April 2014), ingeniously blend insightful social history into deliciously disgusting subject matter. Don’t let the comics fool you; Sarah is a rigorous and incisive historian. Check her blog for thrice-weekly doses of the same magic.
Thanks, Sarah, for inviting me!
The rules of this blog hop are that I now need to answer Sarah’s four questions, then pass the baton onto three more writers I love, whom you should get to know. Here goes.
Sarah: What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a new YA for Viking, set in medieval France. It’s got passionate romance, arranged marriage, burning heretics, vengeful clerics, a mystic, a matchmaker, a fortune teller, and a cat. There should always be a pet. I’m also finishing copyedits for my upcoming middle grade called TheScandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (fall 2014, Roaring Brook).
Sarah: How does your WIP differ from other works in the genre?
The particular chapter in history on which my YA (currently nicknamed Mystique) is based is one that hasn’t been written about much in young adult literature, or, for that matter, adult literature. I’m excited about that aspect of it. But also, I believe the format and voice I’m attempting to use will be, yuk yuk, rather novel.
Sarah: Why do you write what you do?
Mainly because I love to. I feel fortunate in my work in that respect. I get to write the sorts of books I’d like to read. I especially love the research involved. I think I would have enjoyed an academic career. Writing allows me to delve into, learn about, and research any topic that interests me, put my findings to creative use, and then, when I’m done, move on to another interest, possibly one entirely different.
Sarah: What is the hardest part about writing?
Finding time to do it can be really hard. I have four sons, a house to neglect, and an otherwise busy life. I also spend a great deal of time visiting schools, traveling, and speaking at conferences and writing events. Those things can become consuming. Creative inspiration is a fickle thing, too. While I’m a firm believer in writing regularly and not waiting for one’s muse to show up, I do admit that the spark that brings writing to life can be elusive. The challenge is to press on anyway.
Enough about me. It’s time to meet three fantastic authors I adore!
Carol Lynch Williams and I met at Vermont College of the Fine Arts in the same incoming class group, and we bonded instantly. She’s raw, real, and hilarious, combining the kindest heart with an uncensored wit. She calls it like she sees it, which I love. She’s prolific, and more importantly, she’s good. Good good. A masterful storyteller with a pitch-perfect ear for honesty in voice.
Carol Lynch Williams is the mother of five daughters and the wicked step-mother to more than 30 books for middle grade and young adult readers. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Adolescents from Vermont College, teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University and runs Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers (www.wifyr.com), in its 14th year. Her novels include THE CHOSEN ONE, MILES FROM ORDINARY, GLIMPSE and WAITING with four titles forthcoming in 2014: THE HAVEN, SIGNED SKYE HARPER and two titles in the Just in Time series written with coauthor Cheri Pray Earl. You can read about Carol and her newest book sale on her blog www.throwingupwords.wordpress.com. You can also find her on Twitter.
After my first novel, The Amaranth Enchantment, released, I met a pair of bloggers from Utah who wrote to me enthusiastically about it. I traveled to Salt Lake City to do a signing, and Stacey Ratliff and Sara Larson joined me there. We’ve stayed in touch ever since – in fact we now have a traditional dinner date every time I come into town. It’s thrilling to see Sara Larson now on the brink of releasing her first novel with Scholastic, DEFY.
Sara B. Larson can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books, although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes during naptime and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” On occasion you will find her hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish.
Sara is represented by Josh Adams, of Adams Literary. Her debut YA fantasy novel, DEFY, will be published by Scholastic in January of 2014.
[Back to Julie] One of my favorite local bookstores is Willow Books in Acton, MA. They take such good care of me there and always have plenty of my signed books in stock. I remember meeting Cal Armistead years ago there, and her telling me she was shopping for an agent. Then she had one. Then she’d sold Being Henry David. Then it was in stores, and earning glowing reviews. It couldn’t happen to a nicer person. Here’s Cal:
Cal Armistead has been a writer since age 9, when she submitted her first book, The Poor Macaroni Named Joany to a publisher. Sadly, this literary gem did not make it to print. But Cal continued pursuing her lifelong passion, and wrote copiously for radio, newspapers and magazines (Cal has been published in The Chicago Tribune, Shape Magazine, Body & Soul Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Chicken Soup for Every Mom’s Soul and others). Although it took years for Cal to try her hand again at fiction writing, her first young adult novel (Being Henry David) was published by Albert Whitman & Co. on March 1, 2013. Cal holds an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine, works at an independent book store, is a voice-over actress, sings semi-professionally, and lives in a Boston suburb with her amazing husband and a dog named Layla.
Check out these brilliant authors and their brilliant books. Thanks again, Sarah!