Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interview with THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS Author Jane Kelley

Posted by Tamera Wissinger

It’s release day for Smack Dab in the Middle blogger Jane Kelley’s THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS, a story that has been welcomed with excellent reviews. Congratulations, Jane! We're lucky to have Jane with us today to answer a few questions about her newest release. 

photo by Keith Weber
Jane's Goodreads Bio:

Jane Kelley lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and her daughter. She was the 2013 Thurber House Children's Writer in Residence. Jane says, “I grew up in Wisconsin, near a forest that was my refuge and a source of inspiration. I still love to be in nature, whether I’m exploring Vermont or an untamed corner of our city park. No wonder I wrote my first book about a girl who finds herself by getting lost in the woods.”

Description of THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS from Feilwel & Friends:

Val and Lanora have been friends forever. Val expects their relationship to stay the same. But after they start middle school, Lanora decides to reinvent herself. Her parents have split up, and she wants to rise above that. Unfortunately Lanora's choices lead her into trouble. Val hates watching her friend lose her way. She wants to rescue Lanora, but how? Val doesn't know what to do until a stray cat leads her to a strange boy who lives in an even stranger bookshop. Together they embark on a quest. Will they be able to save a lost friend? Will they get lost themselves? Or will they find a way to help each other become who they want to be . . . .

Jane Kelley has created a nuanced, universal story about friendship and that delicate time of adolescence when there is much to lose and much more to find.

Kirkus Reviews Starred Review Excerpt:

...In this meticulously designed tale, Kelley takes an ordinary, realistic situation—upon entering middleschool, a girl decides to start fresh and jettisons her longtime best friend, who is unwilling to let matters rest—and imbues it with layers of poignancy and enchantment...

Interview with Jane Kelley, author of THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS:

Can you talk about how the idea for THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS came to you? Did you know right away that this was the book that you wanted to write, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did your stories evolve?

This book changed quite drastically. In fact, the only elements that remain from early drafts are the fire escape (as I wrote in my blog post) and a mysterious black cat. I had to keep Mau––or my own cat would have been mad at me. But all the other characters went through many changes until, after several drafts, one scene clicked into place. Halfway through the book, Val dares to force her way into a fancy office building to confront her lost friend’s father. That realistic quest had fairy tale elements; those glittering glass office towers reminded me of castles. After I got that scene right, I knew I could make the rest work.  

Was THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS always for middle grade readers or not? Why did you choose middle grade?  

It was always for middle grade. One of the reasons I love writing for this age group is that they are transitioning from innocence to awareness. My main characters remember when they did believe in fairy tales, but they are trying to be more adult. They must find new sources for comfort and courage.

What is the best part of writing stories for middle grade readers? Are there any drawbacks?

I like that I can still dip back into magic––even if the one talking about spells is a younger sibling. I don’t think there is a drawback. I think these readers can handle complexities of character and thought. And I’m happy that I, as author, can solve at least some of their problems at the novel’s end.

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.  

Actually I do have something I want to say. When I was young, my favorite book was called UNDERSTOOD BETSEY. Clearly I thought that no one understood me! But one of the most amazing things I find about being a writer is that I can encourage understanding. I can actually put a reader in a character’s shoes. I can whisper the character’s thoughts in the reader’s ear. I can (hopefully) describe emotions well enough so that the reader feels the fears and the joys of another person. That is a very good thing.


Thank you, Jane! Congratulations, again, on today’s release of THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS, available today from Feilwel & Friends. Best wishes to you and your new book. If you’d like to know more about Jane and her books, visit her Website or her Goodreads author page. 


  1. I am really looking forward to reading this book, Jane. Also looking forward to hosting you on my own blog later this month!

  2. Thanks, Tamera -- and Darlene, for giving me the chance to talk about my book.

  3. CONGRATS on your release! BOOK OF DARES sounds fantastic.

  4. Congratulations! I can't wait to read it!