Interview: Author Kate Messner

Posted 16 December, 2010 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 1 Comment

I’m so pleased to welcome Kate Messner, the author of SUGAR AND ICE, to The Book Swarm today. You can read my review of this fantastic middle grade novel HERE. She also wrote THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z., another great middle grade novel which won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award.

For the past twelve years, Kate has been a teacher of middle school English. When she’s not teaching or writing books, she’s usually hanging out with her family, taking her kids to soccer and ice skating practice, playing Scrabble, riding bikes, skiing, swimming, hiking, exploring, reading, and eating chocolate. (You can read more about her on her website HERE.)

What character traits do you share or wish you shared with Claire, the main character of SUGAR AND ICE?

I definitely share Claire’s love of learning (we are both fascinated by Fibonacci numbers!), her fondness for Indiana Jones, and some of her determination, I think.  Sadly, I don’t share her skating talent!

I know your daughter skates and that a basic skills skating camp for her sparked the idea for SUGAR AND ICE. So, what about you? How are you on the ice?
I never learned to skate until I was an adult, so I was wobbly in the beginning. Living where I do in Northern New York, though, you really have to appreciate winter sports to make it through the season  here, so I’ve gotten much better at it. I can’t do anything fancy in terms of figure skating moves, but I can do forward and backward crossovers, and I love skating on Lake Champlain when it freezes in the winter.

What’s your writing process—how do you go from the idea to writing that final draft?
I usually carry an idea around with me for a while – often months – before I start writing, so when I sit down to write that first draft, it tends to come out pretty quickly. I generally let the draft sit for a while, then read through, make notes, and revise. After I’ve done that a couple times, I share with my critique group to get their feedback and revise again before the manuscript goes to my editor. Then she gives her feedback…and guess what…more revision! That’s all good, though, because revision is my favorite part of the process.

What’s your biggest distraction when writing?
I’m kind of unusual in that I’m rarely distracted while I’m writing because my time to write is so precious. Since I teach full time, too, and have a family, I generally only write a couple hours a night, and by then I’m so excited to get to my keyboard that not much can distract me. (Awesome focus!)

Favorite fuel for writing?
Chocolate! And green tea.

Since you’ve been published, what’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you?
May I choose two coolest things? (Of course!)
Meeting young readers and talking with them about my books has been the absolute best.

But at the IRA Conference in Chicago last year, I also got to meet one of my favorite authors when I was growing up, Judy Blume, and that was pretty amazing, too! (That’s so awesome–she’s one of my favorite authors, too!)

What draws you to a book?
I’m definitely most likely to read a book that’s recommended by a friend or a student. 

Favorite books of 2010:
Oh dear…I have so many!  How about if I stick to books for middle grade readers and name a few I’ve loved lately?
Sharon Draper’s OUT OF MY MIND
Rita Williams Garcia’s ONE CRAZY SUMMER
Deborah Wiles’ COUNTDOWN
Cynthia Lord’s TOUCH BLUE
Loree Griffin Burns’ THE HIVE DETECTIVES
Laurel Snyder’s PENNY DREADFUL

…and a lot more that I can’t remember this second. There were so many great books this year! (I agree. So many great books–and more next year. Yay!)

You have so many great projects coming out: SUGAR AND ICE (Dec. 2010), MARTY McGUIRE (May 2011), and two picture books, SEAMONSTER’S FIRST DAY (July 2011) and OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW (Fall 2011). What are you working on these days?

My next book with Bloomsbury/Walker is a weather-related dystopian novel called EYE OF THE STORM, about a future world where there’s been an increase in the intensity and occurrence of tornadoes, and four kids at an elite science camp work together to discover the truth about why it’s happening.  I’m finishing up revisions on that book now, and it’s due out in Spring 2012. (Ooh, that sounds wonderful. It’s definitely going on the to-read list.)
Junior Library Guild Selection 
Winter 2010-2011 Kids IndieNext List   
An Best Book for December

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 farm. But all that changes when Russian skating coach Andrei Grosheva offers Claire a scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire 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 to see her fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

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One Response to “Interview: Author Kate Messner”

  1. Tori

    She sounds really cool! I think thats its cool thats she a middle school teacher and is, I don’t want to say normal, but what I though most authors weren’t.