Posted by Tamera Wissinger
Today, Lisa Ann Scott is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Lisa’s debut middle grade novel SCHOOL OF CHARM, Katherine Tegen Books, released on 02/18/2014! Congratulations, Lisa!
Here is a bit about Lisa:
Lisa Scott is a former TV news anchor who now enjoys making up stories instead of sticking to the facts. She lives in upstate NY with her hubby and kids, dog, cats, and koi fish. When not writing, she works as a voice actor.
Here’s a description of SCHOOL OF CHARM:
At the School of Charm, everyone has a wish to whisper. With an enchanting small-town setting, lively storytelling, and a hint of magic, this debut novel is perfect for fans of Ingrid Law, Clare Vanderpool, and Rebecca Stead.
Eleven-year-old Chip has always been her daddy's girl, so when he dies she pins her hopes on winning a beauty pageant to show her family of southern belles that she still belongs. But she'd rather be covered in mud than makeup! Can a rough-and-tumble girl ever become a beauty queen? A universal story about finding your place in the world, School of Charm explores themes of loss, family, and friendship.
Now it’s time to hear from our guest:
Smack Dab Middleview with SCHOOL OF CHARM author Lisa Ann Scott
1. In a nutshell, what does your main character, Chip, want?
Brenda Anderson (Chip) wants to find her place in her family after her father’s gone. She was Daddy’s girl and now that he’s dead, she doesn’t know whose girl she is. Her mama and sisters are all involved in the pageant world. She’s a tomboy who prefers mud to makeup. When they move south to live with the mean pageant queen grandma they’ve never met, Chip asks Daddy for a sign everything’s going to be okay.
2. What is in her way?
Her two sisters, mama, and grandma are in the way. None of them believe she’s “pageant material.” So she joins an unusual charm schools that she discovers and secretly trains for the Miss Dogwood pageant to show them she does fit in. But the lessons she learns aren’t what she expects.
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 discovered the story as I wrote. I woke from a dream one morning with the image of an older woman in a forest clearing holding some sort of class for a small group of girls. She had a knowing look on her face, like she was a keeper of secrets. I walked around with that image in my head for a while until I figured out who she was, what her school was all about, and who the girls were.
4. Was School of Charm 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?
Yes, this was always intended for middle grade. I chose MG because I knew the characters were that age, and the theme was appropriate for younger kids. I love writing for that age group. It’s such a huge time of transformation for children, and I think books and stories can help guide them through it.
5. What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?
Kids this age devour books. I know I did. I love thinking my book might help some child work through a problem or see the world in a different way. I think books read at this age can be so much more than just an entertaining story.
6. Is there any downside?
I think overall, middle grade fiction doesn’t get the spotlight like YA can. So, that helps make it even harder to market your work. And it’s difficult to reach these young readers. You have to reach out to the gatekeepers (parents, teachers, librarians and booksellers.)
7. 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.
Ooh, good question. No one has said much about the fact that I dedicated the book to my father who died when I was four, and also to my stepfather who my mother married two years later. As I was writing the book, at one point I asked myself if I was really writing my own story, since my father died too. But I realized losing a parent at age eleven is a lot different from losing one when you’re four, the age I was when my father died from a brain tumor. Chip’s father was her whole life at the time, and she’ll never forget him. I barely remember my father. So at eleven, you’re losing a huge part of your life. At four, that person will never get to be a big part of your life, so you don’t even know what you’ve lost. So that loss certainly effects her differently than it did me. But, I did grow up in the seventies and spent a lot of time in the woods, catching turtles, and getting dirty. No beauty pageant experience for me!
Thank you for joining us on Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Lisa. Again, congratulations on the release of SCHOOL OF CHARM!