A conversation with Jackie Yeager, author of Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Yay!  A new year of books! I’m excited to kick off my 2018 author conversations with Jackie Yeager. Spin the Golden Light Bulb (Buy the book: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound) is set in 2071 and finds eleven year-old Kia Krumpet determined to build her 67 inventions.  But she won’t have the opportunity unless she earns a spot at PIPS, the Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School. Kia, who has trouble making friends, has dreamed of winning the Piedmont Challenge and attending PIPS ever since she learned that her Grandma Kitty won the very first Piedmont Challenge. She wins, but that’s just the beginning. Things get complicated and Kia is in for the ride of her life.

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

I’ve always loved playing around with words and turning them into something. In elementary school, I loved writing plays for my siblings and neighborhood friends. Later, as a middle school and high school cheerleader, I loved making up cheers for our team to perform in between quarters, at halftime, and from the sidelines. For me cheers were more than just words though. They were like pieces of a story, each with a different message that would motivate the players at a certain point in the game. It wasn’t a conventional path toward writing but that’s pretty much where it started! It wasn’t until I became an elementary school reading teacher that I found my passion for writing actual stories. I loved the books my students were reading and soon felt compelled to write them too!

Spin the Golden Light Bulb is set in 2071. I love how life is familiar in some ways and yet dramatically different in others. How much world building did you do before you started writing or did it evolve as you went along?

Most of the world building happened as I went along at either the draft stage or during revisions. Though pretty early on, I realized that the story needed to be set in the future. That way, I could make it so the inventions found at Camp Piedmont, or that the kids created for the competition, could be absolutely anything—because anything is possible in the future. But I didn’t want it to be set so far into the future that life would be beyond recognition. I wanted readers to see the possibilities of what their very own future could look like if they worked to make it happen.

In your Author’s Note, you talk about your experience as a coach of Odyssey of the Mind. Are your characters based on your world final’s making team members?  

They were! After we returned from the World Finals competition, I knew that I had to tell a story similar to the experience we had just had—even though I had no idea at first what it would actually be about. The five kids on that team had such fun and different personalities that I had a lot of material to work with.

People have often asked me what it was about these kids that made them work so well together, where they were able to create such fantastic objects, costumes, and skits. I believe it was because they were so different from each other. Sure, they had their squabbles like any other team I had coached, but this team learned very early on how to play to each other’s strengths, overlook their differences, and motivate each other to create something special together. But most of all, they each had a certain quality, something special that I knew kids would relate to—even if I did exaggerate some of their quirks and personalities traits a bit. I mean this is fiction after all!

There’s a lot of suspense in this novel, edge of your sit type stuff. And thrillers need great characters to succeed. What came first for you – character or plot?

Thank you! It’s always a challenge to write a story with high enough stakes and I have to say that for this book, the characters came first. Even though I knew I wanted the story to be about a larger than life competition, I wasn’t sure right away what the competition itself would entail or what the stakes would be. The characters came to me right away and once I imagined them into the story, I was able to imagine the adventure they would be a part of.

Writing for middle grade readers can be a challenge. What about this age range/genre appeals to you?

 I love writing stories for this age group because kids are just beginning to form solid friendships and see themselves outside the world in which they live—the world their parents or other adult figures have created for them. But they also don’t necessarily want to veer too far away from them. It’s fun creating a world or situation for characters where they can venture out on their own a bit and grow into the best versions of themselves, but still want to come back home!

Who are your favorite authors?

 Oh so many! Some of my favorite middle grade authors are Jen Malone, Rebecca Stead, Suzanne LeFluer, and Trenton Lee Stuart, but I could go on and on! I read a lot of YA too though and my favorites are Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Young, and most recently Stephanie Garber. Caraval is my new favorite book!

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

 Oh let’s see…when I’m not writing, I love going out for bagels in the mornings with my husband—even though I don’t like bagels that much! I like going out to lunch or for coffee with my husband, my kids, my friends, my sisters, or my mom. I love meeting anyone in a cute restaurant or coffee shop to eat, drink, and chat! I love binge watching Netflix with my kids too. I have certain shows I watch with my son and ones that I watch with my daughter. But on a random day when it’s quiet at home and I feel like I can spare the time, I love doing yoga, watching The Young and the Restless, or planning our next trip to Disney!

What are you working on right now? Will there be a sequel to Spin the Golden Light Bulb?

Yes! In fact, when I signed my publishing contract, for Spin the Golden Light Bulb it was for a two-book deal. I recently completed the edits and the sequel, Flip the Silver Switch will be released on January 10, 2018! I can hardly believe it. I’m still getting used to the idea that I have a published book, and soon the second one will be out in the world too. I feel so lucky and so very grateful.

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

I love hearing from readers and the best way is through my website: swirlandspark.com. Links to my email address and social media accounts are there. I’m on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook quite a bit also so those are great ways to get in touch with me too!

(Don’t miss the book trailer!)

2017 Best Middle Grade Novels

When you think the world is falling apart and you just can’t take it anymore, I suggest a visit to your local bookstore or library. Browse the middle grade shelves. Pick up almost anything. What will you find?

Gold, pure gold.

Middle grade authors produce some of the best and bravest writing I’ve seen, no matter target audience or genre. Novels range from fantasy to contemporary to historical to completely silly and fun. (I have been known to shout “Funny or die!’ on occasion) These books embrace tough subject matter, not shying away from the difficulties of growing up in a complicated world. I appreciate, too, how girl characters are being elevated to positions of leadership and authority. It’s so important for girls to see themselves on the pages.

I say it all the time: what we read matters.

(Want a chance to win one of these titles? See details at the end.)




The Someday Birds, by Sally J. Pla (HarperCollins)

Authors talk a lot about ‘voice’ and how important it is to get it right. It’s hard to describe what exactly ‘voice’ is but when you encounter it, you know – you can feel it all the way down to your toes. You are with the character in his or her head, seeing the world through his or her eyes.The Someday Birds is a perfect example. Charlie struggles to fit in and understand the world around him and just when he thinks he’s got it nailed down, well, everything changes. I felt his pain and confusion and admired his passion. If this character suddenly walked into my living room, I would not be at all surprised. He is that real.

Read an interview with the author here.



The Countdown Conspiracy, by Katie Silvensky (HarperCollins) 

Holy cow, I loved this book!  Science, adventure, friendships, outer space, robots, bad guys. The stakes are high in this page turner and it will have you on the edge of your seat. Set in a future post war Earth, Miranda Regent is picked as one of six kids training to go to Mars. But things go immediately sideways and Miranda may be the only one who can herself, her family, her friends and, indeed, the world. Plus, this book has the best epilogue ever.




The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, by Karina Yan Glaser (HMH Books for Young Readers)

I loved this big, warm story about siblings trying to save their sprawling home, a New York City brownstone about to be rented out from under them. It’s an important lesson for kids that they are not powerless and their actions can have an impact. The neighborhood setting brings home the notion that children can experience an expansive world without leaving their city block. I read it in one sitting and look forward to the sequel, due next year.

Read an interview with the author here.

New York Times Book Review here.



Click’d, by Tamara Ireland Stone (Disney-Hyperion)

Best selling author Stone delivers a fun read with tech savvy Allie Navarro at its heart. Allie develops an app at code camp that helps kids make friends and it’s a hit. It might even be enough for her to beat arch enemy Nathan at an upcoming coding competition. But a glitch might bring down more than her game. Allie has to work fast to save her friendships and her chance at winning the competition. Along the way, she learns valuable lessons about what matters most. This story has all the elements of middle grade – friends, family, school – but bundled with the idea that girls can code as well as anyone. And I hope they do.



Kat Greene Comes Clean, by Melissa Roske (Charlesbridge)

Author Melissa Roske expertly captures the feelings of a middle school girl who finds herself dealing with how messy life can be. Navigating divorce and her mother’s worsening OCD plus a best friend who’s changing before her eyes. Kat’s bravery in dealing with the chaos broke my heart a little bit – kids being strong in the face of adversity gets me every time. But the message that we should never have to face problems on our own and that help is there no matter what is an important one that Roske brings home beautifully.

Read an interview with the author here.




A Dash of Dragon, by Heidi Lang & Katie Bartkowski (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

The premise of this book is completely delightful: A thirteen-year-old chef has a lot to prove as she tries to run a five-star restaurant, repay a greedy loan shark, and outsmart the Elven mafia in this entertaining novel that combines all the best ingredients—fantasy, humor, adventure, action, cute boys, and a feisty heroine. And the authors (who are sisters – cool, right??) deliver. This is the kind of book I would have loved as a kid and stayed up, hiding under my blankets with a flashlight, to finish. Good fun.

Read an interview with the authors here.




Ahimsa, by Supriya Kelkar (Tu Books)

As Ahmisa opens, it’s 1942 and Ghandi has asked families to give one member to the Indian freedom movement. In the case of Anjali, it’s her mother who steps up. As Anjali’s life changes, she’s forced to confront a new reality brought on my her mother’s commitment to the cause. I love stories where a girl is pushed out of her comfort zone and becomes a better, stronger version of herself. Anjali’s path is thrilling to follow and especially timely in today’s world.

Read an interview with the author here.




The Prisoner of Ice and Snow, by Ruth Lauren (Bloomsbury)

In order to rescue her sister from a maximum security prison, Valor needs to first be thrown in jail and then figure a way to bust out. The audacity of her plan tells us a lot about her character. She’s bold and daring and will stop at nothing to save her sister. I was taken from the start by Lauren’s intricate world building and edge of my seat pacing. There’s also a visual quality to her writing that had this tale unspooling like a movie in my head.

Read an interview with the author here.



Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy, by Gareth Wronski (Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster)

This novel has a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sensibility that I found irresistible. After a case of mistaken identity, Holly finds herself in outer space contending with bounty hunters, giant worms, perky holograms, cosmic board games, sinister insectoid librarians, and a robot who is learning how to lie. Things are complicated….and funny…but author Wronski never loses sight of Holly’s humanity and the struggles that abound in middle school.

Read an interview with the author here.



Karma Khullar’s Mustache, by Kristi Wientge (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

I loved the adolescent angst in this one because if felt so familiar! Twelve and thirteen year old self doubt is unique and this book offers kids a chance to realize they are not alone dealing with all the weirdness. Karma’s body feels a little bit alien and her best friend seems ready to trade up to a newer shinier best friend. Add in her dad as the new stay at home parent, a mom at work all the time and Karma is just confused. And alone. In true Judy Blume fashion, Wientge captures Karma’s emotions with honesty and charm.



Free Books!

What’s better than free books? Nothing. Duh. Sign up for my occasional newsletter and be entered to win one of these titles!





FREE Skype visits to celebrate the cover release of Power Play!

For a limited time I’m offering FREE Skype visits to your school classroom or library to celebrate the awesome new cover for Mrs. Smith’s Spy School 2: Power Play!

Visits are 20-30 minutes of Q&A about the books, writing or whatever reading related topics your kids are interested in.

Email me for details at Beth@BethMcMullenBooks.com

Order Mrs. Smtih’s Spy School for Girls on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Preorder Power Play on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Reese Witherspoon agrees with me…

Coming July 3, 2018!

(sing up for my monthly newsletter here)


I’m super excited about two things right now – first, I get to paint my daughter’s lovely perfect face with bloody wounds and scratches for her Halloween zombie costume. Okay, maybe that’s a lie but I am excited about the cover art for Power Play (Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls 2), the next installment of the trilogy!  It’s as good as the first and fits perfectly with the globe trotting elements of the story. Abby is all in trouble again – click here for details…

I want to thank everyone who bought the first book. It was such a thrill to hear from young readers (and their parents) about how they connected with Abby. If you liked the book (or your child did) please consider leaving a review on Amazon. It makes a difference! Here’s the link so you don’t have to waste time searching.



Now on to the important stuff. Have you read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman? It’s a-Mazing. And Reese Witherspoon is turning it into a movie so I guess she agrees with me. It’s about a woman living a very small life, trying to contain the trauma of her childhood. As she begins to let people in, everything changes in ways that are heartbreaking and funny at the same time (tears, laughter, tears, laughter, tears AND laughter – I was a mess). Also, I accidentally took out the Large Print edition, which weighed forty pounds and gave me tendinitis in my wrist but you shouldn’t have the same problem. What is it they say – no pain, no gain? Probably they weren’t talking about reading.




Is the weather where you are finally turning? In my ‘hood, we get excited when it drops below ninety. People put on sweaters and down jackets. I used to make fun of these people, the east coast transplant that I am, but now….well, let’s just say I’ve lost my credibility. As soon as I can turn on the oven without cranking up the AC to compensate, I bake. And these cookies are to die for. Make them and eat them while you read Eleanor Oliphant! I’m jealous already.



Okay, one last thing before I go. Have you tried Lore yet? Did you know that the saying ‘saved by the bell’ originated in the 1800s when people were occasionally buried alive (by mistake) and a bell was built into coffins so the victim could alert the living that he or she was six feet under and getting a little uncomfortable? No, me neither! I’ve also learned about the origins for vampire stories, silver bullets and that rampant consumption created a lot of terrifying superstition among the unenlightened folks in the early days of our country. The podcast is also a creepy six episode Amazon Prime show. Do not watch before bedtime



The Cover Art is Here!

PowerPlay (Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls 2) has the best cover! What do you think? Keep reading if you want to know what sort of trouble Abby is up to this time….

Abby and the rest of her friends go international as they embark on their first “official” Center mission in this second book in the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.

After discovering the truth about her spy school/boarding school—and her super-spy mom—Abby Hunter is ready for her next adventure, but what’s about to happen is something she never would have guessed…

Everyone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges.

After Drexel’s son—who is Abby’s friend, Toby—receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.

With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.

And with a little luck, they might just save the world.

An interview with Supriya Kelkar, debut author of AHIMSA

As Ahmisa opens, it’s 1942 and Ghandi has asked families to give one member to the Indian freedom movement. In the case of Anjali, it’s her mother who steps up. As Anjali’s life changes, she’s forced to confront a new reality brought on my her mother’s commitment to the cause. I love stories where a girl is pushed out of her comfort zone and becomes a better, stronger version of herself. Anjali’s path is thrilling to follow and especially timely in today’s world. This title is a valuable addition to any home, school or public library. (And the cover is so gorgeous!)

And now, the author answers our questions…

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

I grew up surrounded by books thanks in part to a book-of-the-month club membership my aunt and uncle had given me for years. I also grew up watching lots of Hindi movies, and my father had written a couple Hindi movies as well. The combination of the exposure to books and Bollywood made me want to become a storyteller.

AHIMSA was inspired by the life of your great-grandmother. In the research phase, did you learn things about her that you didn’t know before?

I did! I actually didn’t know much about her at all except that she was a freedom fighter, had been imprisoned, and became a congresswoman after independence. It wasn’t until I read her biography, written by my great-grandfather, that I learned the details of her work. One thing that was really fascinating to me was after she was arrested for leading a protest, the government sent word to her husband that if she would just apologize, they would let her go. But she refused because she knew what she was doing was right and so she remained in jail until a pact Gandhi had made with the viceroy of India freed political prisoners who were not violent.

Even though AHIMSA takes place in 1942, the issues of social justice in the book feel incredibly timely. Did you have the current climate in mind as you wrote?

I actually wrote the first draft of the book back in 2003. It wasn’t until I was working on the edits in 2016 that it dawned on me how timely the novel was.

How did you settle on a middle grade novel as the best way to tell this story? Was it your first choice?

It took a few stages to get there. I first tried to write Ahimsa as a screenplay about my great-grandmother. I don’t think I even managed to write a word of it. I just couldn’t figure it out. I then decided to write it as a fictional script, and thought rather than the protagonist being the freedom fighter, it might be more interesting to see the story through the eyes of the daughter of a freedom fighter. When I got stuck on that script, I decided to give novel-writing a try and thus the first draft of the book was born.

Who are your favorite authors?

Growing up I was a huge Ann M. Martin fan. I also really loved re-reading books by James Stevenson, Nancy Carlson and Holly Keller.

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

Besides hanging out with my family and friends, I’d have to say binge watching TV shows. I just love immersing myself in a new world this way.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a few pictures books and middle grade novels.

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

I have lots of information about the book at my website www.supriyakelkar.com and they can e-mail me at supriyakelkarbooks@gmail.com








Karina Yan Glaser, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. The Interview!

When I lived in New York, a million years ago, I used to take the train fairly regularly through Harlem,  the setting for The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. As the story unfolded I could see it happening. I could imagine the places. I wanted to crawl right inside and hang out with Vanderbeekers.  Not many books have me wishing for that. I’m feeling lucky I got to ask author Karina Yan Glaser a few questions. Have a look…

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

I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. I was the kid who brought books with her to recess and kept a book in my lap during dinner so I could sneak read while I ate. When my kids were born, I started a blog where I wrote hundreds of blog posts about being a new mom. I found out I loved telling stories, and when my second daughter started preschool I began writing The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street in a coffee shop.

What was the best part of writing The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street?

I loved revising and polishing, inserting wording or paragraphs that pulled me more and more into the story. For me, writing a novel is like putting together a puzzle. It doesn’t all come together at the first go; the full picture gradually reveals itself with time, patience, and diligence.

Your novel centers on a possible eviction from a beloved Harlem brownstone. Did you have a house in mind from your own past when you began writing or one in your current neighborhood?

The brownstone setting idea came from lots of walks around my current Harlem neighborhood. Thankfully I have a few friends who live in brownstones, so my familiarity with the buildings come from visiting and spending time in their brownstones. One day, if The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street sells a bajillion copies, I hope to move my family into a brownstone!

Both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus use the term ‘old fashioned’ (as in charming and lovely!) to describe this book. Did books you read as a child influence the tone of this work?

Definitely. I loved books like Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family­, Eleanor Estes’s The Moffats, and Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays. All of those stories were about big families, and All-of-a-Kind Family and The Saturdays were set in New York City. I’m honored that reviewers saw glimpses of that sensibility in The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street!

Writing for middle grade readers can be a challenge. What about this age range/genre appeals to you?

Oh, I love everything about middle grade books. That eight-to-twelve age range was when I fell in love with reading, and I love the themes of growing up and discovery that comes during that age. The best thing about having kids who are currently seven and nine is that I can share my favorite middle grade books with them!

Who are your favorite authors?

So many! Katherine Paterson, Jason Reynolds, Ashley Bryan, Grace Lin, Linda Sue Park, Louise Erdrich, Jack Cheng, Gary Schmidt, Cynthia Voigt, Elizabeth Enright, Richard Peck, Janice Nimura, Holly M. McGhee, Jacqueline Woodson, Sydney Taylor, Joyce Sidman, Eleanor Estes, Laurie Halse Anderson, Melissa Sweet, Jacqueline Kelly, Kelly Barnhill, Ada Calhoun, Ruta Sepetys, Jeanne Birdsall… those are just some!

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

Reading! Hiking! Eating chocolate!

What are you working on right now?

I am finishing up illustrations for the sequel to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. I’m also starting my third book.

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

I’m reachable through most social media outlets and by email!

Website: www.karinaglaser.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karinaisreadingandwriting/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KarinaYanGlaser

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarinaYanGlaser









Jake Burt, author of Greetings From Witness Protection. An interview!

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly says the biggest complaint kids will have with Greetings From Witness Protection is that it ends!  How amazing is that?  Sassy, snarky Nicki Demere—a 13-year-old foster kid with a big heart and the quick hands of a seasoned thief—is commissioned by the U.S. marshals to join a family in the Witness Protection Program that is hiding from one of the deadliest crime organizations in the country. As daughter Charlotte, she’ll help them fly under the radar in North Carolina. And it’s a wild ride as she navigates hitmen, cyberbullies, and the dreaded standardized testing. Author Jake Burt manages to be both poignant and funny in his middle grade debut and we’re lucky to have him here with us today to answer a few questions – welcome Jake!


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

I can trace my love of all of the above back to my dad reading The Hobbit to me when I was a kid. He did voices for each character, and I vividly recall being enthralled. Since, not a day has gone by where I’m not stunned by the power that a good story possesses. I use them in my classroom to teach, and nothing captivates my students more than when they sense a story coming on. I learn anecdotally, too, and I’m particularly susceptible to the emotional magic stories weave; I’m fairly addicted to that breathless, hollow-yet-full sensation one gets after reading a great story and realizing it’s come to an end. 

What was the best part of writing Greetings From Witness Protection?

Meeting Nicki. Yes, I storyboard and outline, but there’s this wonderful thing that happens once an author sits down to actually write. The character’s voice comes through, and quite often she’ll let you know that what you thought happened in your tale…well, that’s not quite how it happened. I realize that sounds quite meta (or, perhaps, delusional), but I find myself continually and joyously surprised by what reveals itself as I’m writing. In the case of Greetings, Nicki was a phenomenal character to interact with as she related her story to me, and I’m honored that she chose me to tell it. 

You strike a great balance between funny and serious. Is this something you thought

about in advance of writing the novel?

Not a ton; I think that if I sat down and said, “Okay, this needs to be 50% funny and 50% serious,” I’d stagnate myself attempting to achieve that balance. Real life is at times funny, at times serious, and at times both. As a result, I try to be real, and let the humor or drama evolve naturally from that. 

Nicki/Charlotte is sassy and snarky, just my favorite kind of character. Is she based on

people you know or did she just show up in your head?

I’m sure she’s an amalgam of quite a few things, but she largely just showed up in my head. One of my absolute favorite musicians, Tori Amos, has described her songwriting process as an opening of the mind, which then allows the songs to choose her as their conduit. Despite the mythological underpinnings of such a philosophy (she attributes the facilitation of that creative flow to the faeries), I find it really resonates with me, because I can’t think of a more apt way to describe it. Nicki popped into my mind, and she wouldn’t be quiet until I told her story for her. 

Writing for middle grade readers can be a challenge. What about this age range/genre

appeals to you?

My answer here is the same as when someone asks me why I love teaching fifth grade: they’re old enough to get my sense of humor, but young enough to still believe in magic.

Who are your favorite authors?

Tolkien, Sir Thomas Malory, Peter Beagle, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Dr. Seuss, Bob Salvatore, Cat Valente, Mark Twain, Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and about four hundred more.

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

Playing games. Sports, board games, video games, party games, camp games, you name it.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished the copyedits for my second novel (due out in October of 2018, also with Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan), and I’m getting ready to submit my third book…fingers crossed!

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

I love to hear from my readers via my website: www.jburtbooks.com. There’s an easy form to fill out there that gets the message right to me. Of course, letters via regular mail are fun, too, and the address for those is also on the website.

Amanda Hosch, debut author of Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

Is Mabel Opal Pear an amazing name or what?! See the answer to my third question below to find out how it came to pass. Amazon describes this book as ‘rife with quirky characters, zany twists, and an unflinching look at the difficulty of learning to trust.’ All of that and a mystery to unravel spells fun in my book!  Amanda Hosch’s debut middle grade novel is on shelves today so pick up a copy and see for yourself.


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

I grew up in a family of readers. My parents read to us and weekly trips to the library were part of growing up. Once I was old enough to walk there on my own, I went two or three times a week (I’m a fast reader). When my oldest daughter was a few months old, my father was able to recite “Goodnight Moon” from memory even though it had been several decades since he had read it.

What was the hardest part of writing Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying?

Of all the books I’ve written, MOPRS was the most joyful first draft experience. I think it’s because her voice was so strong. However, revising took patience.

Deciding on names in fiction writing is hard work and Mabel Opal Pear is an unusual one. How did you come up with it?

Before she even had a proper name, I knew her nickname was Moppet. I tried quite a few variations of names with the initials MOP before Mabel Opal Pear stuck. Moppet comes from the stories by Beatrix Potter. Moppet has her own book, The Story of Miss Moppet, and she also appears in The Tale of Tom Kitten. I loved the books as a child and my mother gave me a beautiful set when my first child was born. My mom may have also called me Moppet sometimes.

I’m a huge mystery/spy fan (obviously!). Do you read mystery and spy fiction for fun? Did you know you were going to write a spy book from the start?

Yes, me too! Yes (again!)! From the very beginning, I knew Mabel’s parents were spies and that she knew their secret. Once I rewrote the Moscow Rules from Mabel’s point of view, that was the book’s hook.

Writing for middle grade readers can be a challenge. What about this age range/genre appeals to you?

I love their ability to get totally immersed in a story.

Who are your favorite authors?

Partial list includes Rae Carson, Mindy McGinnis, and Madeleine L’Engle, but ask me on a different day and I’ll have another list.

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?


What are you working on right now?

A historical YA set in 1880s New Orleans.

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

Email is great: amanda@amandahosch.com