Friday, January 31, 2014

“Middleview” Interview with Debut Author Rebecca Behrens

Posted by Tamera Wissinger

Today, Rebecca Behrens is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Rebecca’s debut middle grade novel WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, releases on 02/04/2014! Congratulations, Rebecca!

Here is a little bit about Rebecca:

Growing up in Wisconsin, Rebecca Behrens dreamed of becoming the following: a zoologist, an Olympic swimmer, or an author. One out of three isn’t bad! Today she lives in New York City, where she works as a production editor for children’s books. Some of her favorite things are: the beach, bright shoes, running, doughnuts, and laughing.


Here’s a description of WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE:

First Daughter Audrey Rhodes can’t wait for the party she has planned. The decorations are all set, and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute for a “security breach,” squashing Audrey’s chances for making any new friends. What good is having your own bowling alley if you don’t have anyone to play with?

Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless—until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. The former first daughter’s outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun . . . and get her into more trouble than she can handle.

Here are the links to Rebecca online: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Now it’s time to hear from our guest:

Smack Dab Middleview with WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE author Rebecca Behrens
1. In a nutshell, what do your main characters, Audrey and Alice, want?

Both of my main characters want the same thing--freedom--but they want it in different ways. Alice wants freedom to “eat up the world,” which to her means travel, experience, and love. Audrey wants the freedom to live like a normal thirteen-year-old, despite the fact that she’s living in the White House. And, in a deeper way, both girls want the freedom to be her own person.

2. What is in their way?

Alice is largely constrained by her time period, the turn of the twentieth century. Many opportunities weren’t available to women then, and her lifestyle was further limited by her father’s political career. Of course, what other people (including her father) thought didn’t always stop Alice from going after what she wanted!
Audrey is constrained by security concerns and her parents’ busy schedules. Media attention on political families also gets in her way.

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 knew for a long time that I would like to write about a contemporary girl living in the White House, and I also had long wanted to write fiction about Alice Roosevelt’s wild life. Once I had the spark to combine those two ideas together via a long-lost secret diary, the story came about quickly. After doing preliminary research, I wrote Alice’s fictional diary entries first. Then I wrote Audrey’s story around them. It took quite a long time, and lots of revision, to blend the two narratives together.

4. Was When Audrey Met Alice 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?

When I wrote the first draft, I wasn’t sure if this story would be middle grade or YA, mostly because of Alice’s age (seventeen). Once that draft was done, it was pretty clear to me that Audrey was an upper middle-grade character at heart. I changed up some of Audrey’s hijinks to make them more appropriate for an upper-MG character, and I made some minor tweaks to Alice’s diary entries so she’d be more accessible to the MG reader.

5. What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?

I love how MG readers are hungry for good storytelling, and that they have so much excitement about the world. It’s inspiring to tap into that.

6. Is there one question you wish you could answer about writing, your book, or the author's life, but have never been asked? Here's your chance to Q &A yourself.
I’d ask myself what piece of writing advice has helped me the most.

And my answer would be this quote from Jane Smiley: “Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist.” Whenever I’m struggling with putting a story to paper, that sentence gives me the boost I need to carry on.

Thanks for joining us at Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Rebecca. Again, congratulations on the release of WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE!


7 comments:

  1. I'm really excited to read this book! I love the premise, and I love history… Congrats on your debut, Rebecca!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Louise. I love the premise of Rebecca's book, too.

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  2. I absolutely can't wait to read this book! Thanks for a great interview.

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    1. My pleasure, Darlene. This sounds like a great read to me, too!

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  3. Fabulous! Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca!

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  4. This book sounds interesting! Did you need to do a lot of research for the contemporary side of things?

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  5. Thanks, everyone!
    Andrea, I did do a lot of research for the contemporary side, too! I read books on White House life, studied maps of the interior of the WH, and I even got to take a tour of the grounds while revising. (It was a good thing I did, because seeing the South Lawn inside the fence changed one of my scenes quite a bit.) There were some details that I ultimately couldn't confirm, and I few more that I had to change for storytelling purposes, so I like to say that the contemporary part of the story is plausible if not 100% accurate.

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