Swanky Seventeener Emily R. King recently interviewed Elaine Vickers, author of LIKE MAGIC, a middle grade novel published by HarperCollins on October 18, 2016.
About the Book:
For three ten-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big. Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves. When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.
About the Author:
Elaine Vickers is the author of LIKE MAGIC (HarperCollins, October 2016) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family.
Emily: How did you come up with the idea for a novel with three main characters?
Elaine: The first seed of this novel came from an article on the New York Public Library’s blog. The article told of an American Girl doll that kids were able to check out of the library, and I know I wasn’t the only one who thought, “There’s a middle grade story there.” After several rounds of revision, the doll was replaced by a hollowed-out book box in my story, but it was always about an object that brought kids together. So, of course, there had to be more than one main character.
Emily: The three main characters are all gifted creatively. What inspired you to incorporate the arts into your novel?
Elaine: The arts were a big part of my childhood, and many of my best friends were in orchestra or dance class with me. My mom is a talented studio artist and taught me how to draw. When she first read the book, she said, “I love that you’ve written about the power of art to connect people.” Which had been totally unintentional, but is something I believe in very much. (More about that in this post.)
Emily: What was your revision process like for this book?
Elaine: Long! I drafted it quickly (or, at least, quickly for me—about four months). But there were several serious overhaul revisions before it sold, and a couple of fairly substantial revisions afterward. Each time, the three girls’ stories became woven together more tightly, and I’m so pleased with the result.
Emily: What is it about writing Middle Grade that you enjoy most?
Elaine: I’ve always loved reading middle grade, but I didn’t start writing it until about six years ago when I was asked to help with Cub Scouts through my church. Those kids were so full of life and so enthusiastic about every new activity we threw at them. But at the same time, they were dealing with some incredibly tough situations. It’s such a magical and challenging time. I love exploring that sense of wonder and possibility, but also that depth of emotion that I think middle graders feel so uniquely.
Favorite writing snack?
A little Coke Zero with a shot of coconut, lots of crushed ice. Mmm…
New Zealand looks pretty amazing, and I’d absolutely love to go to Ghana. I’m guessing those wouldn’t happen in the same trip, though…
Oddest job you ever had?
I helped with the trade books at the bookstore in college, and it’s odd in the sense that I put brand-new Harry Potter titles on the shelf and had no interest in them. What was wrong with me? J
Favorite Broadway musical?
It’s hard to beat Les Mis, but I got to see Matilda on Broadway last year and it was incredible. Kidlit and Broadway—what could be better?
What were you reading when you were 10?
I absolutely loved The Babysitters Club, but that’s about the age when I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond. That was the first book that totally took me into another world. I could barely be bothered to stop reading and come eat Thanksgiving dinner.
Most recent book you read?
I read almost 100 MG books a year and only a handful of YA, but I just finished My Lady Jane and it was fantastic.
About the Interviewer:
Emily R. King is a reader of everything and a writer of fantasy. Shark advocate, consumer of gummy bears, and islander at heart, Emily’s greatest interests are her four children. She’s a member of SCBWI and an active participant in her local writers’ community. Her debut, THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN, is coming May 2017 from Skycape.
When an orphan discovers the real reason she is claimed against her will by a tyrant rajah, she turns to practitioners of a forbidden magic to help her and her best friend escape before being forced to fight in an age-old tournament to the death to take her place as the rajah’s one hundredth queen.