Posted by Tamera Wissinger
Today, Jennifer Ann Mann is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Jennifer’s debut middle grade novel SUNNY SWET IS SO NOT SORRY, from Bloomsbury Publishing, released yesterday, 10/01/2013! Congratulations, Jennifer!
Here is Jennifer’s short biography:
Jennifer Ann Mann grew up in New Jersey, the second of four sisters. Her short stories have been published by Highlights for Children, where she won the 2007 Fiction Contest. She lives in Boston in a giant house filled with kids and cats. This coming fall, Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books will publish Jennifer’s debut novel, Sunny Sweet is So Not Sorry, the first book in the Sunny Sweet Series.
Here’s a description of SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY:
One little sister, some homemade super glue, and about a million plastic flowers. That’s all it took to make a totally regular morning turn into a super crazy day! Masha has always known her little sister, Sunny, was an evil genius. But this time, Sunny has gone too far. The glue she used to attach plastic daisies to Masha’s head won’t come off! The girls have to stay home from school, and Sunny sets out on an adventure to help fix Masha’s head. Fix it? Yeah, right! Masha just wants to stick to the rules for once. Sunny plans on testing every single one. When this adventure is over, Sunny Sweet is going to be so sorry!
Now it’s time to hear from our guest:
Smack Dab Middleview with SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY author Jennifer Ann Mann
1. What does your main character, Masha want?
Masha wants her old life back, before her parent’s divorce and their subsequent move. In that old life she was Masha Sweet, daughter to Principal Sweet. She felt important and had a deep sense of belonging. In her new life, Masha lives in a town where no one can say her name correctly, attends a school where she has zero friends, and is forced to be more responsible for her little sister, Sunny, since her mother has a new job. This last part is so NOT easy…considering that Sunny is an evil genius who never stops tormenting her big sister. The story begins with Masha waking up for school and discovering that Sunny has glued plastic flowers into her hair.
2. What is in her way?
Masha believes all her troubles stem from her little sister, Sunny Sweet. In reality, Masha is in her own way and needs to accept that things have changed. This is not easy for anyone, especially not for an 11 year-old that has just woken up with plastic flowers glued to their head!
3. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did the story evolve?
I grew up the second of four sisters. You could say that I was born to write a sister story. As a long suffering big sister, I (of course) wrote a story where everything is the fault of a dastardly little sister.
4. Was SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY always for middle grade readers or not? If so, why did you choose middle grade? If not, what had to change for it to be considered a middle grade novel?
Not once did I think about the age I was writing for; I just wrote. My agent pronounced it MG, and after the book sold, my editor had me tone down the divorce. The original manuscript had a lot more detail regarding the divorce, including an affair of the father’s and more anguish on the part of the mother. (The story was generally darker.) My editor asked me to focus on the sisters and their relationship so that Sunny and Masha could continue their capers as a series. At first, I admit that there was sadness on my part for the loss of this aspect of the story, but soon, the shenanigans of Masha and Sunny had me laughing and writing.
5. What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?
Most days I still feel as if I’m 11 years-old, so writing MG comes naturally. I also love the way kids this age think - they’re not yet focused on self and sex and therefore have more time to ponder life’s bigger questions. They’re like adorable mini philosophers looking at life in a very pure, un-jaded way.
6. Is there any downside?
Absolutely none when it comes to the writing of the story, although the marketing of middle grade seems to be more difficult than for young adult. Older kids and adults make their choices in purchasing and reading books while younger kids rely much more on adults to make the choices for them, creating an extra layer between the book and its reader.
7. What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Plot. I love character. I have a blast thinking, chatting, and feeling as Masha and Sunny. I spend hours writing my characters thoughts about food, friends, making their beds, homework, parents, etc. It’s so much fun. I hate the fact that something has to happen!
Thank you for joining us for a Middleview at Smack Dab Blog, Jennifer. Again, congratulations on the release of SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY! We’ll look for it on bookshelves!