“Middleview” Interview with Debut Author Adriana Brad Schanen
Posted by Tamera Wissinger
Today, Adriana Brad Schanen is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Adriana’s debut middle grade novel QUINNY & HOPPER, Disney-Hyperion, releases on 06/10/2014! Congratulations, Adriana!
Here is a bit about Adriana:
Adriana Brad Schanen was born in Romania, raised in Chicago, and now lives in the vibrant, diverse town of Montclair, NJ with her husband, two daughters and a shaggy 60-pound lap dog named Oliver. She can often be found in her attic study, writing books for kids and teens or the occasional screenplay. Her first early MG novel, QUINNY & HOPPER, releases June 10, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion.
Here is a description of QUINNY & HOPPER:
Quinny has a lot to say. Hopper gets to the point.
Quinny has one speed: very, very, extra-very fast. Hopper proceeds with caution.
Quinny has big ideas. Hopper has smart solutions.
Quinny and Hopper couldn’t be more different. They’re an unstoppable team. But when summer ends, things suddenly aren’t the same. Can Quinny and Hopper stick together in the face of stylish bullies, a killer chicken, and those new Third Grade Rules – especially the one that says they’re not allowed to be friends anymore?
Combining emotional realism and adventure-driven plotting, this young MG alternates between the comically-different perspectives of a boy and a girl whose close summer friendship runs smack-dab into the uncertainties of a new school year that could change everything...maybe even for the better.
Now it’s time to hear from our guest.
Smack Dab Middleview with QUINNY & HOPPER author Adriana Brad Schanen
1. In a nutshell, what do your main characters want?
Naturally, my two polar-opposite main characters start out wanting polar-opposite things.
Quinny wants: adventure, bustle, company and conversation. Above all, she wants to escape her sleepy new town of Whisper Valley and return to her bright, fast life in NYC.
Hopper wants: privacy, personal space, time to himself. He wants to swim laps without his brothers crashing into him. He’d rather skip his aunt’s chaotic barbecue and hang out in his room, juggling or sketching or exploring science books. Above all, he wants to be able to have his regular personality without people thinking that it means he’s sad. (Because he’s not sad. He’s deeply curious about the world – it’s just that he’s not in your face about it, like some people.)
QUINNY & HOPPER centers on the intense, odd-couple friendship that develops between these new neighbors and rising 3rd graders, with chapters that toggle between the first-person voices of exuberant, restless Quinny and the more reserved, pensive Hopper. Ultimately, of course, they discover they both want the same thing: a friend who truly gets them.
2. What is in their way?
Quinny and Hopper stand in each other’s way, mostly. This conveniently gave me something to write about. Also, Hopper’s great at holding a grudge. And Quinny’s melodrama and overreactions sabotage her at every turn.
3. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did the story evolve?
These characters started off younger and in a picture book manuscript, a format that ended up being completely wrong for the story —in large part, because I can’t write a picture book to save my life. Hopper was always Hopper, but Quinny went through a few name changes. Eventually I sorted out who they were, and how old, and that their story started the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade.
The transition from PB to early MG involved a lot of experimenting, second-guessing and flailing about. It was grisly at times – chopped up bits of various versions of the manuscript floated through my dreams -- but I always kept front-of-mind the idea that their friendship was the core of the story, and sought the format that best showcased it.
4. Since QUINNY & HOPPER wasn't always for middle grade readers, what else had to change for it to be considered an MG novel?
The emotional realism I wanted for this book made me dial it up from PB to early MG, where I felt I could better explore darker stuff like anger, loneliness, jealousy, girly relational aggression, the casual physical violence within male relationships, and the way resentments can bubble up within sibling/family relationships (mixed in with all the love, of course).
Slowly but surely, the story got to stretch its legs and become what it wanted to be. It may sound loony, but I do think of storylines as living, animate objects with a drive of their own.
5. What is the best part of writing for MG readers?
On the younger end, I love how those CB/early MG years are such a tender, in-between time. Picture books start receding – which is sad, but also exciting because it makes room for the ascension of “real books,” as my younger daughter likes to call them. (No offense PBs –you’re as real to me as any other kind of book!)
For my older daughter, age eight through nine was such great phase – like balancing in the center of the see-saw, in a way. She was able to lean in one direction, toward MG, and then back in the other, to PBs. It was a sweet, satisfying moment when there was almost equal interest in both directions. I love writing for this age, trying to keep kids in the game as they transition to longer-form narratives.
But really, all of MG is compelling to me. My next MG project is actually older, centering on a 12-year-old boy who’s being bullied from inside the popular group at school. Middle school is such dark, funny, fertile ground!
Thanks for joining us at Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Adriana. Again, congratulations on the release of QUINNY & HOPPER!