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The Top Ten Questions Kids Ask at Author Visits

Guest Posting by Author Melanie Conklin

Did you always want to write books?

It did not occur to me to write a book until I was 34 years old, but I have always loved to read. Reading was my favorite activity as a kid, followed closely by building forts in the woods and drawing horses on everything I owned. Books took me on adventures. They introduced me to new friends. Today, reading is still one of my favorite activities, and I believe that’s why I started writing. I love stories so much that I wanted to create them for other people to enjoy.

What is your favorite book?

I have lots of favorites, because there are lots of different kinds of books. My favorite read for middle graders is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, which I’ve read at least a dozen times. Growing up, I loved The Secret Garden, Roald Dahl’s The BFG, and every book with horses in it.

How many books have you written?

I have one published novel, so this might seem like a simple question to answer, but in fact I’ve written many more stories. I wrote two books before Counting Thyme, but neither of those were ready to be published. I think of them as training wheels books. Sometimes you have to try something in order to learn how to do it. Since Thyme, I’ve written several more stories for young readers, and each of those is in the process of becoming good enough to publish.

Did you make your cover?

I did not! I was very lucky that a fabulous artist named Pascal Campion created Counting Thyme’s cover. His work is amazing, and you can find out more about him and his beautiful paintings on his website.

Are you rich?

I did not get a million dollars for my book, but that’s okay! Most authors do not get a million dollars for their books. I have a cute house, two happy kids, a brilliant husband, and an adorable puppy named Charlotte, so I am very fortunate. I am also fortunate that I get to share my words with you.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The answer is complicated! I can write one draft of a book in about two months, but it can take me MANY drafts to make a story ready to be published. The process for Counting Thyme took three years, from the first draft I wrote to when the book was on the shelf.

How do you get your ideas?

I collect ideas all the time in little notebooks. Notebooks are my favorite writing tool. When I’m stuck, I can look through my notebooks for ideas, or I can write on the pages until I figure out my problem. It always works!

How does writing make you feel?

This is such an insightful question! The truth is that writing can be a mixed bag of feelings. I feel very happy when things are going well, but I also feel sad when they’re not—and that’s okay! Creating stories is a hard and messy process, and sometimes our feelings get messy, too. I can feel angry, lonely, goofy, and excited, but in the end I’m always proud and satisfied to finish a new draft. (Until it’s time to revise again!)

What’s it like to be famous?

If I ever get to meet J.K. Rowling, I’ll ask her. (But seriously, it is very fun to connect with readers all over the world. I’m just as excited to meet you as you are to meet me!)

What is your best writing advice?

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.

About Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin grew up in North Carolina and worked as a product designer for ten years before moving to New York, where she began to write. Her debut middle grade novel, Counting Thyme (Penguin), is a 2016 Nerdy Book Award winner, a Bank Street Best Books of 2016 selection, and an SCBWI Crystal Kite Finalist. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and sons. Connect with her on twitter at @MLConklin.

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