“Middleview” Interview with Debut Author Polly Holyoke

Posted by Tamera Wissinger

Today, Polly Holyoke is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Polly’s debut middle grade novel THE NEPTUNE PROJECT, Disney/Hyperion, releases in one week, on May 21, 2013! Congratulations, Polly!

Here is Polly’s biography:

Polly Holyoke has been imagining stories since she was in fifth grade and was a middle school teacher for many years. When she isn’t writing, Polly loves reading, camping, skiing, scuba diving and hiking in the desert. She lives with three rescue dogs, two spoiled cats and a nice husband who is tolerant about the piles of books all over their house. She thinks the best part about being an author is going to work in her sweatpants and getting paid for daydreaming!

 Here is a description of THE NEPTUNE PROJECT:

THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is set in a future where the seas are rising and wars and famines wrack the surface world. Nere Hanson and her teen companions are shocked to learn that they have been genetically altered by their desperate parents to live in the sea. Protected by her loyal dolphins, shy Nere leads the rest on a perilous journey to her father’s new colony. Fighting off government divers, sharks and giant squid, can Nere and her companions learn to trust each other before their dangerous new world destroys them?

Here are links to Polly online: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Amazon

Now it’s time to hear from our guest:

Smack Dab Middleview with THE NEPTUNE PROJECT author Polly Holyoke

1. What does your main character Nere want?

More than anything else, Nere wants to be accepted and respected. An outcast at school, she is ignored by her peers, and even her driven scientist parents often don’t have time for her.

2. What stands in her way?

Nere has been discounted and ignored for so long, she doesn’t have much faith in her own abilities. For much of the book, she refuses to believe that she could lead her companions as they face countless dangers in the sea. But her knowledge of the ocean, her bravery and the way she looks out for others make the rest of the Neptune kids realize that Nere is a leader before she ever reaches that realization herself.

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

Actually, I did know this would be my story. I often write about the shy but capable kids on the outskirts who long for acceptance and a chance to prove themselves. I think that’s a theme many middlegrade kids can relate to. Nere’s challenges became even greater because the other Neptune kids and even the dolphins who protect them developed such strong personalities as the story evolved.

4. Was The Neptune Project always for middle grade readers or not? If not, what had to change for it to be considered a middle grade novel?

Neptune was written for a YA audience, but the editorial staff at Disney Hyperion thought Nere was more of a MG protagonist in many ways, and I agreed with them. We did have to dial down the romantic elements and change the characters’ dialogue. Middlegrade characters, I was surprised to learn, can’t even say words like, “crap.”

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

I love the fact that middlegrade readers haven’t learned to be cynical yet. I know they will believe wholeheartedly in even the wildest parts of my story as long as I build my world and my plot well.

6. Is there any downside?

I don’t think the dialogue in most MG novels being published today is very authentic.  I know this age well, and I know how colorful their language actually is.

7. Is there was one MG rated question you wish you could answer about writing, your book, or the author’s life that you’ve never been asked?

Actually, no one has ever asked me what I wanted to be when I was in middle school. I very much wanted to be a veterinarian or a dolphin trainer. I guess writing a book about dolphins is the next best thing! 

Thank you for joining us for a Middleview at Smack Dab Blog, Polly. Again, congratulations on the release of THE NEPTUNE PROJECT! We’ll look for it on bookshelves!


  1. Congratulations, Polly! Sounds like a great story.

    I'm sure many shy capable kids on the outskirts thank you.

  2. Yes, congrats, Polly! Love your author pic...

  3. COngrats on your book, Polly! I agree, Nere sounds like a character many, many a middle grader will relate to. Glad you and your editors discovered Nere's true self!


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