“Middleview” Interview with Debut Author Heidi Schulz
Posted by Tamera Wissinger
Today, Heidi Schulz is joining Smack Dab In The Middle Blog for a guest “middleview” interview. Heidi’s debut middle grade novel HOOK’S REVENGE, Disney•Hyperion, releases today: 09/16/2014! Congratulations, Heidi!
Here is a bit about Heidi:
Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. She lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband, co-captaining a crew made of their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, HOOK’S REVENGE, will be published by Disney•Hyperion on September 16, 2014. A sequel, HOOK’S REVENGE: THE PIRATE CODE, will follow in fall 2015. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, in 2016.
Here’s a description of HOOK’S REVENGE:
Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.
So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she’d bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland’s most fearsome beast isn’t enough to deal with, she’s tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited.
The crocodile’s clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz’s debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?
Now it’s time to hear from our guest:
Smack Dab Middleview with HOOK’S REVENGE author Heidi Schulz
1. In a nutshell, what does your main character, Jocelyn, want?
At first, more than anything Jocelyn wants adventure. But when adventure arrives on her doorstep with the charge to go to the Neverland and avenge her father at the jaws of the fierce crocodile that caused his death, it may be more than she bargained for.
Later she wants to fulfill her father’s last request and prove that she is capable, even if she is young and a girl. Only, she worries: What if she can’t?
2. What is in her way?
Her guardian grandfather, her prim headmistress, and even society itself all conspire to keep her from her piratical dreams and attempt to force her to become a lady.
Once she finally breaks out of that prescribed role, so many things threaten to keep her from her goal of avenging Captain Hook, but the biggest of these is her own self-doubt.
3. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did the story evolve?
From the start, I knew Jocelyn’s mission and I knew how I wanted the book to end. I also knew I wanted her finishing school training to come in handy some way. Plot details came about as I wrote my first draft, but the heart and soul of the story—who Jocelyn is, her friendship with Roger, and the emotional resolution—came about with revision.
I am a big fan of revision. Every round shapes and refines a bit more.
4. Was Hook’s Revenge 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 first started writing this book, I didn’t even know what middle-grade was. I didn’t know a lot of things about the business of writing, but I had a story to tell, so I did. I learned the rest as I went along.
In my earliest draft, Jocelyn was nine (still middle grade aged, though on the younger end of the spectrum). As I revised, she got quite a bit older. In the finished book she turns thirteen.
5. What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?
Middle grade readers are often beginning to question the world and their place in it. It is such a time for change and growth, but at the same time, there is still a sense of wonder. It’s an age when it might still be possible to find Narnia in your wardrobe or receive your acceptance letter to Hogwarts. I love that.
I also feel that for many children, this age range may present a last chance for them to become lifelong readers. If I can inspire a love of reading in just a single child, I will be happier than if I were to win the lottery.
Thanks for joining us at Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Heidi. Again, congratulations on today’s release of HOOK’S REVENGE!