Pete spoke with fellow author K.L. Hallam about his middle-grade debut, just out from Month9 Books. Pete’s a member of the Sweet Sixteens, an online group for YA and MG authors debuting this year; his interviewer rolls with the Swanky Seventeens.
ABOUT THE NOVEL
It’s funny how one little letter can change a person’s life. Jax and his friends have been planning the summer of a lifetime at Camp Runamuck. However, when one of them is facing summer at a school desk for failing English, they watch those plans crash and burn!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pete started writing Middle Grade a little more than three years ago. ARTIFACTS is the first book he has published. He and his wife live in Charlotte, NC, with two very needy one hundred pound sheep dogs. He is always working on a new story because there are a multitude of characters living inside my head — battling to get out.
TALKING ABOUT ARTIFACTS
How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and every version of them. (Books, Movies, the Fractured Fairy Tale cartoons. My daughter and I went to see The Little Mermaid 17 weekends in a row when it first came out. LOL) The stories I write that seem to work best are always of several friends together facing some type of a life and death adventure but no matter how dire the circumstances may be, never missing a chance to make fun of their friends. One day I thought of how cool it would be if there was something that could rewrite fairy tales. Make the bad guys good or the good guys bad. And if there was which one of the fairy tale villains would be sent to find it and once the fairy tale heroes found out, who would they send to help the kids battle against them.
What was your revision process like for this book?
Lots of rewriting! LOL! The story itself had a lot of good things going for it but it wasn’t until it got into the capable hands of Tara Creel, my editor at Month9Books, did it start to take on real life. She laughed when it was funny and she made me make some tough decisions when it wasn’t. I really can’t thank her enough. We went through it page by page, keeping what was good and either changing or taking out what wasn’t. I made a great many changes, and then we went through it page by page again before the final draft was ready.
How much of ARTIFACTS came from real life, or from your own childhood?
I think I relied heavily on my interactions with my friends for the way the Jax, Korie, Crunch, Mouth, and Tank interacted. The dialogue always felt like it was spot on and yes I did grow up with kids that were as goofy as Crunch and as wise-guy-erly (yes, I can invent that word) as Mouth. We were always going on treasure hunts “(spending time in junkyards and helping neighbors clean out there basements and garages so we could see what they had and were throwing away) and trying to find something that we were able to create a really great story behind.
Korie’s the only girl in the group. Was she modeled after anyone in particular?
Korie is smart, funny, a good friend, and is willing to be as independent and as adventurous as any of the boys. Middle Grade didn’t used to have a lot of that and over the last several years it’s come to the forefront. I tend to write and like “girls that are one of the guys” which makes those passages where they aren’t just that much more special. She is modeled after my wife and my daughters, strong, independent women who have a great sense of humor, great sense of justice, are the biggest fans of the underdog, and show no fear when it comes to friends and family.
Oddest job you ever had?
I with a friend of mine in a van dropping off freshly baked bread to stores and restaurants early in the morning. Our job was usually done by 8 a.m.
Big brother, little sister, in the middle, or one and only?
I am a big brother who was waaaaay to overprotective when we were growing up. We lived in a neighborhood where everyone knew each other and much to her dismay everyone knew she was my sister. I was six foot, two hundred pounds in the sixth grade so I guess I made an impression. She turned okay so I guess my job was done!
Robot revolution or zombie apocalypse?
Robot Revolution, and I can’t wait for it!
Favorite writing snack?
Popcorn! My wife just got me hooked on G. H. Cretors caramel popcorn and it is amazing! It makes you write with one hand so you can eat with the other.
What were you reading when you were in middle school?
Mostly Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
The most trouble you got into with your friends at this age? Come on fess up.
Most of the trouble I got into I can’t bring up at the moment as there might still be warrants out! J I grew up in Queens, NY and it was probably very different than most other writers except for people like Gay Talese and Mario Puzo. J Probably the most trouble we got into was on Halloween when we would fill our socks with a variety of colored chalk and leave our marks on our friends, enemies, and the neighborhood. (The egging and toilet papering didn’t come until after middle school. We couldn’t afford it.)
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
K.L. Hallam writes MG/ YA/ NA/poetry/short stories. She’s a member of SCBWI, a contributor to @TheKidliterati, The mother of teens. She can be found during daylight hours writing in the basement of a jazz club. When there’s time to play, she sings and writes songs, or paints with watercolors, and pretends she never has to grow up. Her first YA, a novella, The Unmoving Sky, publishes May 16 with Leap Books, and her MG debut, GLITCH, is forthcoming from Month9Books/Tantrum in 2017.