Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blog Tour: Kate Messner

Kate has a new book coming out. Sugar and Ice looks super cute. She's chatting with us here today. Welcome Kate!

What made you choose to write?
I’ve loved writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Research, too – I used to assign myself reports in the summertime and just loved spending time in the library. I went to Syracuse University for broadcast journalism and worked in that field for seven years before leaving to get my teaching degree, and that’s when I remembered how much I loved novels and began writing fiction for publication.

Where do you write best?

I have a writing room that we built out of an old storage area in the back of our house. It’s small – just big enough for a large desk and a wall of bookshelves – but it’s totally soundproof and has a beautiful view of Lake Champlain. That’s my favorite place to write.

Oh, it's lovely!

How do you get your ideas? Do you use real events in your novels and if so, can you describe one?

My ideas often grow out of experiences in my life as a mom and teacher. My first book with Walker/Bloomsbury, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. is about a 7th grade girl who leaves her science project to the last minute and ends up with one week to collect & identify 25 different kinds of leaves. That book is based on many of the funny stories I’ve heard my own 7th grade students tell about why their science project was late.

Ah the power of procrastination, I get a lot of those requests at the library. A week isn't too bad, often here the project is due the next day.

How did you come up with your titles?

Titles are tough for me, and usually the first title I come up with isn’t the one that eventually makes it onto the book cover. I brainstorm, along with my agent and editor (and often with anyone who will listen!) to come up with the perfect title to capture the spirit of a book. Sometimes, I brainstorm by writing down all the words and phrases that might relate to the book, then cutting them apart and quite literally playing with the words, rearranging them on my table to come up with possibilities I might not otherwise think of.

Oh, I like that - the puzzle effect!

Can you tell us a little bit about Sugar and Ice?

Sure! My daughter is a figure skater, so I spend lots of time hanging around the rink during her lessons, and I noticed that there’s some great drama surrounding the sport. I starting asking myself, “Hmmm…what if…?” And the rest is history.

Here’s the official jacket flap copy:

For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family's maple farm. But all that changes when Claire is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity-a scholarship to train with the elite skaters in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire soon realizes that her sweet dream-come-true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she find the strength to stand up to the people who want her to fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

It sounds great! I can't wait to read it :)

Do you ice skate? Can you do any fancy moves?

I can ice skate, but I can’t do anything fancy at all! I learned to do backward crossovers and spirals last year, and that’s about as brave as I’m getting for right now!

That meant that I had to do a lot of research to write Sugar and Ice. I spent lots of time interviewing coaches and skaters, watching lessons and competitions, and getting a sense for the language of learning to skate and growing in the sport.

What’s your favorite part about being a teacher?

Sharing books with kids!

I love this answer!

What will you did you do on your release day?

Release day was a school day for me, so I was in my classroom! We did have a terrific book launch party at The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid the following weekend, which was fun because it’s right up the street from the Olympic Center, where the story takes place.

(I also signed some books to leave behind after the event, so if you’d like to purchase an autographed copy, just call the Bookstore Plus at (518) 523-2950)

What’s up next?

My next book release is actually the start of a chapter book series for younger readers! Marty McGuire, illustrated by Brian Floca, comes out from Scholastic in May. That’s followed by my first picture book, Sea Monster’s First Day illustrated by Andy Rash and coming from Chronicle this summer.

What was the last book you’ve read that you’ve been recommending to everyone?

For middle grade novels, I just loved Sharon Draper’s OUT OF MY MIND and Rita Williams Garcia’s ONE CRAZY SUMMER.

For YA novels that are more for the high school crowd, I’ve been recommending STOLEN by Lucy Christopher and HARMONIC FEEDBACK by Tara Kelly. Both are absolute page-turners with amazing characters.

Are there any authors you’d love to meet?

I’ve been lucky enough to meet many authors whose works I admire at conferences over the past couple years, including Judy Blume, who was one of my favorites growing up. I’d love to meet Beverly Cleary, who was my other favorite author when I was young.

Do you have a favorite literary quote?

I love this one, from Albus Dumbledore (and JK Rowling!) "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Great quote!

Listing of your favorites:

Candy-Sea Salt Caramels
Pizza topping – mushrooms, tomatoes, and jalapenos
Genre of books- realistic fiction
Singer and/or Song- Barry Manilow. (Stop laughing!)
Restaurant – Phaya Thai in Montreal
TV show /Movie – I….don’t watch TV. Or many movies really. Sorry!
Shoe- Running shoes, flip flops, or riding boots
Video Game – (Again…sorry. I don’t play video games and would be hard pressed even to name one!)

Anything I didn’t ask?

Nope – I loved your questions. Thanks so much! Maybe just add that readers can learn more at my

And the link to purchase the book is:

Thanks again!

Thanks for chatting with me, Kate!

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