Thursday, July 31, 2014

“Middleview” Interview with Debut Author Dana Alison Levy

Posted by Tamera Wissinger

Today, Dana Alison Levy is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Dana’s debut middle grade novel THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER, released from Delacorte Books for Young Readers on 7/22/14! Congratulations, Dana!

Here is a bit about Dana:

Dana Alison Levy pursued English Literature and Marketing in school, and has worked for a variety of business and nonprofit organizations. Several years ago she began to write full time, working for corporate and academic clients as well as writing fiction. Dana lives in Massachusetts with her family. THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER is her first novel.



Here’s a description of THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER:

Meet the Fletchers: four boys, two dads, and one new neighbor who just might ruin everything.

Sam, age 12 
Mostly interested in soccer. And food. And his phone.

Jax, age 10
 Psyched for fourth grade. Thinks the new neighbor stinks, and not just because of the skunk.

Eli, age 10 (but younger than Jax)
Delighted to be starting this year at the Pinnacle School, where everyone’s “the smart kid.”

Frog (not his real name), age 6
 Wants his new friends at kindergarten to save a seat for his invisible cheetah.

The start of the school year is not going as hoped for the Fletcher brothers. Their miserable new neighbor, Mr. Nelson, complains about everything. Even worse, each boy finds his plans for school success veering off in unexpected directions. As the year continues, the boys learn the hard and often hilarious lesson that sometimes what you least expect is what you come to care about the most.

From camping trips to scary tales told in the dark, from new schools to old friends, from imaginary cheetahs to very real skunks, the Fletchers’ school year—as always—is anything but boring.

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

Now it’s time to hear from our guest:

Smack Dab Middleview with THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER author Dana Alison Levy:

1. In a nutshell, what do your main characters, the Fletcher boys, want?

Oooh, this is kind of a tough nut (shell) to crack, because they each want their own thing. And what they think they want is not exactly what they turn out to want! (But I don’t want to give anything away…)

Sam thinks he wants nothing more than to make the elite soccer team;
Eli thinks he wants to be at his new school;
Jax thinks he wants to be just like Sam;
Frog...well, Frog does know what he wants. He wants a play date with his new best friend Ladybug.

2. What is in their way?

Sam finds himself pulled in a new direction that might threaten his soccer passion; 
Eli’s not sure that what he got was what he wanted after all;
 Jax has to figure out who he is separate from his brother or his (soon-to-be-former) best friend; 
Frog has to convince his family that Ladybug is a real person, and not a figment of his imagination!

3. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did the story evolve?

This story really did spring full-blown onto the page. I somehow just knew these boys  - I knew who they were right away. Some of the stuff that happens evolved as I went along. The neighbor, Mr. Nelson, definitely was NOT who I expected to show up!

4. Was THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER 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?

This was always a middle grade story. I write for older teenage readers as well, but this was always for younger kids. I wanted to write a book that was in the spirit of my favorite middle grade books as a kid: Elizabeth Enright’s THE MELENDY QUARTET, Edward Eager’s HALF MAGIC, Sidney Taylor’s ALL OF A KIND FAMILY. They’re the books I read and reread, and now my kids are doing the same.

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

 I adore books for this age group! I love to read them, even as an adult, because the best ones can do two things at once: they tell a tale engaging enough to keep kids reading, but also exhibit glorious writing, or a heartbreaking character, or an mesmerizing plot that holds its own for the adult readers as well. Writing for this age group challenges me, because I want to write those books that kids will adore but adults will find engaging too. Also, my kids are in this age group, and I read them each chapter as soon as it was finished. Nothing’s more motivating than them rushing up after school, asking if I’d written anything new!

6. Is there any downside?

 Well, as I said, I write for teenagers as well, so I tend to write with kind of bad language. I had to edit out all the swears and even the semi-swears. Which felt a little false, to be honest. In our house at least, these words find their way out (maybe a little too often)!

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.

One question I always wish I could ask authors of books I love is, “What happened next?” I can’t believe that they don’t know where the characters go once we close the covers of the book. If someone asked me that question, well...I have lots of thoughts about what happens next for the Fletchers. But to answer in general terms, (and to avoid giving anything away), I’ll just say that they definitely get more pets; Sam makes the elite soccer team; Jax decides to play ice hockey, even though none of his brothers play; Eli goes to the regional championship for his science project; and Frog, even though he eventually grows out of believing that Flare, his invisible cheetah, is real, maintains a wild imagination.

Thanks for joining us at Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Dana. Again, congratulations on the release of THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER!

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