Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Nonfiction? Poetry? Fiction? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
Amy McDougall, Master Matchmaker. Fiction, specifically Middle Grade fiction. Regal House/Fitzroy Books, with publication on April 1. Was that a good choice of a date, I wonder?
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
Thirteen-year-old Amy McDougall decides her adopted gay dad needs a boyfriend and it’s her job to find him one.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
Contemporary MG fiction.
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
That it’s “utterly charming,” as one reviewer said. That’s hard to beat!
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
I’m not fond of the whole comparables business, so I’ll pass on this one. If a book is truly comparable to another, why was it written and published?
- Why this book? Why now?
Amy McDougall is a fast, funny read. However, it does touch on an important issue of our times, which is: what exactly makes up a family? This novel presents a single gay dad and his adopted daughter as a family, with its own traditions, like Movie Musical Night and celebrating the Fourth of July in a particular way.
I’d like to add that, while the book is aimed at a Middle Grade audience, I hope it will also be a good read for adults, especially since the adult characters are unusually prominent for a book aimed at this age group.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
None. I never felt I fit into the world of conventional work, which is why I’m glad I retired at fifty and could focus on the creative work of writing. Though I did kind of enjoy my part-time job in my senior year of high school working in a library. Napa, my hometown, had a lovely old library, the Goodman Library. After the city built a new library for adults, they made the Goodman a children’s library. That was fun, a library entirely devoted to books for kids! I was a “shelver,” shelving books, hopefully correctly in most cases!
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
A smile. The sense that they’ve enjoyed the company of these characters. A memory of them that will linger.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
I put a lot of food in the book because I think readers – especially young readers – enjoy this. When Amy and her dad have a prospective boyfriend to dinner, they make for him a chicken dish with olives that I’ve made myself.
As for music, when I fantasize the novel as a movie, I imagine that during the opening credits, the music will be “Good Morning, Starshine” from Hair, as sung by the British singer Oliver. A filmmaker would tell me it isn’t appropriate because, one, the story isn’t set in the sixties and two, it’s a love song. Though I would argue that lyrics like “Glibby gloop gloopy, Nibby nabby noopy, la la la lo lo” also make it a good song for an early teen audience.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
As usual, I’ve got two books going, one that’s more difficult and another that’s less. The more difficult book is hard because it’s in French. Des Grives aux Loups is a multi-generational story about a peasant farming family. This means I’ve added to my French vocabulary words like “moo.”
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