the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Stephen Bramucci and THE DANGER GANG AND THE PIRATES OF BORNEO!

Posted by Adi Rule on Wed, Aug 02, 2017 @ 08:08 AM

We are dangerously excited about Stephen Bramucci's new middle grade novel, The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo, illustrated by Arree Chung, out now from Bloomsbury!

dangergang.jpg

Ronald Zupan is a daring master adventurer! But he hasn’t actually gone on any grand adventures . . . YET! When his world-traveling parents are kidnapped on his 11th birthday, Ronald seizes the chance to prove himself with a dazzling, death-defying rescue operation. Teaming up with his trusty butler Jeeves, his quick-witted fencing nemesis Julianne Sato, and his pet cobra, Carter, Ronald sets course for the jungle of Borneo where his parents were last sighted. As their journey becomes more and more dangerous, can Ronald and his companions muster enough courage to see this adventure through?

Welcome, Stephen! Thanks for bringing us along on the adventure! So, tell us . . .

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

My favorite character to write in The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo! was Ronald Zupan -- the narrator of the book. It was just so much fun to dive headfirst into his bluster, his swagger, and his hyperbole. Especially when he was wrong. I loved to see his ego get checked and, eventually, wanted to give him space to reevaluate ideas that he once seemed so sure of.

What was the most difficult element to cut/change during the revision process and why?

The title was the most difficult element to change in the book. The original title, Ronald Zupan and the Pirates of Borneo! made it past four advisors at VCFA. The book found an agent with that title and sold with that title. But ultimately, the title didn't reflect the contributions of the novel's other heroes. Changing it was prompted by my editor, but it was absolutely the right call. I had a hard time finding the phrase "the danger gang," but once I did it was locked in almost immediately.

What was the spark that ignited this book?

This book was actually born from those Old Spice commercials from 2010. I loved the hyperbole of the character. And that hyper-confident voice. Around this same time, the Most Interesting Man commercials were on the air and the actor bore a striking resemblance to my dad. I started to wonder what it would be like to be parented by the "Old Spice guy," or the "Most Interesting Man." I was fascinated by the pressure that would create for a character -- there would be a constant need to be impressive (something I've often felt, myself).


 Ha! What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

Neil Gaiman says something that I've heard a few times and will paraphrase: "If someone tells you something isn't working, they're almost always right. If they tell you how to fix it, they're almost always wrong." In writing this book, I asked for a lot of input -- from friends, family, my partner, my writing group, and the VCFA community. In order to parse all that feedback, I had to believe that it all made the book better. I absolutely believe that, even though the eventual answers to the questions posed by beta readers had to be uncovered on my own.

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Who were your advisors at VCFA?

Alan Cumyn, Betsy Partridge, Uma Krishnaswami, and Tim Wynne-Jones.

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

It gave me a writing community, craft tools that I needed, and taught me how to edit a whole novel (which is a nut I just couldn't manage to crack on my own).

What is your favorite VCFA memory?

One night in my first term, Mary Winn Heider, Rachel Hylton, and I spent hours sliding around the ice rink on the field outside of Noble with our sneakers. We buzzed on ideas, shared big dreams, and got to know one another. Since then, the two of them have become two of my closest friends on earth. I think of them every month, when I make my loan payment -- it's well worth it for bringing them into my life.

What was special about your VCFA graduating class?

The Dystropians were an incredibly supportive class: Kind hearted, positive, and not overly competitive. It was just such an idyllic group to share stories with.

What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?

Go to focus on writing and let the industry stuff come later.

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Thanks for swinging by, Stephen! Ahoy, Danger Gang!

Stephen Bramucci is an award-winning travel writer and adventurer. He’s rowed down the Mekong Delta, crossed the Australian outback in a car powered by French fry oil, and explored ancient pirate islands in Madagascar. A lifelong animal lover, Stephen’s encounters with endangered species often come up in his classroom presentations. A portion of the author's proceeds from this book have been donated to orangutan research.

Visit him online at www.stephenbramucci.com, and follow him on Twitter @stevebram.

Topics: middle grade, Stephen Bramucci, 2017 release, Bloomsbury, Arree Chung

Carrie Jones and TIME STOPPERS QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN ARROW!

Posted by Adi Rule on Thu, May 04, 2017 @ 09:05 AM

Stop the presses! The second book in Carrie Jones's Time Stoppers series, Time Stoppers Quest for the Golden Arrow, is here!

C4om4OCWIAAgaZ3.jpgShe is no longer a Nobody – she’s a Time Stopper.

Annie is one of the only humans who can control time. And thanks to her new guardian, Miss Cornelia, she’s found a home in the enchanted town of Aurora, Maine, and made three best friends, Eva the dwarf, Bloom the last elf, and Jamie, who might be a troll.

Then Annie wakes up one morning to discover that the wicked Raiff has kidnapped Miss Cornelia, putting Aurora – and Annie’s future there – at stake. To protect both her guardian and the home she loves, Annie must win the trust of a riddle-loving dragon and search for a magical bow and arrow. But as she and her friends embark on this mission, she learns some shocking secrets about her past and Bloom’s, too. Can they save the day before the Raiff destroys everything they hold dear?

Also, the first book, Time Stoppers, has just been released in paperback! timestoppers.jpgCarrie Jones has stopped by the Launchpad to talk about her new book (yay!), and guess what you guys -- Spartacus is back, too!

IMG_6610.jpgWho's a good boy????

Thanks for joining us, Carrie and Spartacus! Sparty, we're paw-sitive you'll ask the hard-hitting questions. Take it away!

This is Spartacus, Carrie Jones’ dog. Yes. I can type. Don’t worry about that today. Let’s just say that some dogs are magic and I am one of those dogs. I am interviewing Carrie so that she won’t procrastinate and never get interviewed. Human writers are like this. They procrastinate. That is why they have dogs like me. We remind humans to take us on walks so that we don’t pee on the floor. We remind humans to step away from their computer. We also remind them that if they don’t sell books, then they can’t buy us dog food and bacon. Bacon is a motivating force in pretty much everything.

Spartacus: So, Carrie, why are there so few dogs in the Time Stopper books.

Carrie: Actually, there are a lot of dogs. There is Tala the magical white dog that lives in Aurora. There is Canin, who is a werewolf and owns a store.

Sparty: A werewolf is not a dog.

Carrie: It’s sort of related.

Sparty:

Carrie: Um… okay… So there are a lot of wolves and random dogs all throughout the books.

Sparty: There can never be enough dogs. Ever.

Carrie: True.

Sparty: And bacon, there can never be enough bacon. I have read these two books and there is no bacon at all involved.

Carrie:

Sparty:

Carrie: Obviously, I failed as a writer.

Sparty: You totally blew off the bacon demographic.

Carrie: Isn’t there, um… Aren’t there official interview questions you should be asking?

Sparty: Do you write in silence?

Carrie: I live with dogs. One is a barkaholic. I do not know what silence is.

Sparty: You forgot to mention that you play the Dmitry Shostakovich radio station lately and Gabby the dog howls along.

40133_900.jpgGaby howling Shostakovich.

Carrie: I was sort of trying to forget that happened, Sparty.

Sparty:

Carrie: I am sorry that Gabby howls. I appreciate you for not howling along.

Sparty: Do you appreciate me enough to give me bacon as a treat for not howling?

Carrie: Yes. If this interview ever ends, I will totally give you bacon as a not-howling-to-classical music reward.

Sparty: YES! Okay… Next question… What’s your writing superpower?

Carrie: Right now it feels like I have no writing superpower.

Sparty: I would say your persistence. You latch onto a character and never let them go. Kind of like Gabby and a bone and/or Gabby and a ball and/or Gabby and a shoe. Also, you are quirky. You have the super power of quirky. I would name you Quirk Girl, that’s what everyone says when you have school visits.

Carrie: That works.

17546797_10155229338729073_8568979767735087274_o.jpgCarrie Jones (L) and friend showcasing many superpowers.

Sparty: What unusual swag would you make for this Time Stopper book, The Quest for the Golden Arrow?

Carrie: I think I’d make a magical telepathic dragon that likes the Red Sox. Or I would make a cow that turns into a unicorn, because that is cool. I would like either of those things and they are both in the book.

11391549_10153469087504073_8285640669406362767_n.jpgSparty: I was going to suggest bookmarks that smell like bacon.

Carrie: That’s not in the book.

Sparty: That totally doesn’t matter! Do you know nothing about marketing? Next question… What would you tell a prospective VCFA student?

Carrie: I would tell them to go, to take the leap, to immerse themselves in the magic that is Vermont College, which is a big magic place full of beautiful people focused on making the best possible stories for kids. How cool is that?

Sparty: I would tell them there is bacon in the dining hall because that would totally make them go.

Carrie: There are always cookies.

Sparty: Almost as good. Okay last question, how did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

IMG_8499 (1).jpgCarrie: I probably wouldn’t be a novelist if it wasn’t for VCFA. I had been a poet – a really bad poet – and a newspaper editor before Vermont and the intense mentoring, the supportive relationships from advisors who cared so much about craft and story? Well, those things just allowed me to blossom and I sold my first book halfway through the program. Vermont gives you what you put into it, so if you dedicate your heart and soul into learning craft, about trying to celebrate words and story and kids, if you put aside your ego and just focus on learning the craft to make your stories amazing? Well, amazing things will happen. Amazing stories will happen. Amazing friendships will happen.

Sparty: And bacon?

Carrie: There is a potential for bacon to happen too.

Sparty: Thank you so much writer human. If it hadn’t been for Vermont, you’d probably still be a newspaper editor, wouldn’t you? And you would have much less money to buy bacon.

Carrie: This is true.

Sparty: VERMONT COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS IS THE BEST THING EVER! Thank you so much for making Carrie a writer who earns enough money to buy me bacon even though she doesn’t like it. And thank you to the Launchpad for hosting us! You all are lovely.

Aw, shucks! Thanks so much for giving us the scoop on Time Stoppers Quest for the Golden Arrow, Carrie! And thank you, Spartacus, for taking time out of your walkies schedule to put on your interviewer hat!

972070_668019-JonesbyEmilyCiciotte.jpgCarrie Jones is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Need series, as well as After Obsession with Steven E. Wedel. She is also the co-editor of the teen anthology, Dear Bully. She is a distinguished alum of Vermont College's MFA Program, and a volunteer firefighter in Maine because … um… firefighting!  In her spare time, she likes to pet dogs, fight polio with Rotary International, and make literacy festivals.

Visit her online at www.carriejonesbooks.com and follow her on Twitter @carriejonesbook, Facebook at carriejonesbooks, and Instagram @carriejonesbooks.

Topics: middle grade, Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2017 release, Carrie Jones, science fiction, Bloomsbury

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