An interview with Elly Swartz


Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My love of books and storytelling came from my mom and my gram. My mom always had a book in her hands and for my gram, it was the words, specifically the New York Times Crossword puzzle. Every Sunday, I’d sit with her and eat chocolate chip cookies from the bakery while she tackled the crossword.

I loved them both – the books and all the words. As a kid, I wrote stories about girls conquering the world. I also wrote lots of terrible poetry. And I read a lot. My favorites – Eloise and Pippy Longstocking and Ramona the Brave.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

Heart. Deep emotion has a way of weaving its way into every story I write.

What was the hardest part of writing Finding Perfect? 

Getting to know Molly was both inspiring and challenging. She was hiding in a dark place, and that is always hard to write. As the author, I had to get into her head, really embody her, and what she was experiencing to fully understand her feelings and write her story from a place of true authenticity. But, that’s what ultimately led to the greatest joy and inspiration. Molly’s acceptance of herself and recognition of her own strength.

The two most difficult scenes to write were Molly’s unraveling on stage during the slam poetry finals and her reunion with her mom. As a loving and affectionate mom of two sons, I wanted to protect Molly from hurt, sorrow, and fear. I wanted to wrap her in my arms and tell her it was all going to be okay. But, as the author, I knew that moment had to come later and it had to come from within Molly. She had to realize that she was going to be okay. That she was not OCD. That she was not one thing.

In the end, while there were scenes that made me cry while I typed, I was inspired by Molly’s courage, strength, and acceptance of imperfection.

Who are your favorite authors?

I have so many favorite authors, but the ones whose books inspired me to become a writer, were Judy Blume (everything), Lois Lowry (The Giver), and Barbara Park (Mick Harte was Here). All of these authors made me feel deeply when I read their stories.

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

I love doing anything with my family – hiking, skiing, cooking, puzzles, binge-watching our favorite shows. And, of course, reading, and walking my two-year-old beagle named Lucy.

What are you working on right now?

I’m happily in the middle of a few projects. I’m revising a middle grade novel about an 11-year-old girl named Frankie. This is a story about family, with a splash of mystery and lots of heart. I’m super excited about this project, and while I can’t share more at this time, I can say, stay tuned. Good news coming! I’m also diving into the picture book world and kicking off another new middle grade story about a girl named Maggie.

What did you drink while writing Finding Perfect?

Hmm. This is an interesting question. I write at all different times of day. So in the morning, I’ll go for a strong Starbucks coffee, by the afternoon, a raspberry lime seltzer. I love my Italian red wine, but generally save that glass for my post-writing, post-work day.

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

I love connecting with readers! Best ways to reach me are via Twitter @ellyswartz or on my site at


More great Finding Perfect information below:

Curriculum Guide:

 Finding Perfect audio trailer

 Unfolding Identity Project:

 RETURN to Best MG of 2016 list