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? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
Miles from Motown is a historical novel in verse with a publication date of August 21, 2021: Miles from Motown Regal House/Fitzroy Publishing
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
It is 1967 and twelve-year-old Georgia copes with her family’s move and her brother’s deployment to Vietnam by hanging her hopes on winning “The Spirit of Detroit” poetry contest.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
Miles from Motown is a middle-grade historical novel-in-verse.
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
“Like the city it’s named for, this novel has an engine all its own and that engine never stops. Once you start reading, you can’t put it down. It’s more than a book, it’s a whole experience; full throttle reminder of how it feels to come of age in a chaotic time and place. Georgia’s journey speaks to the poet in all of us.” ~J. S. Puller, author of CaptainSuperlative
- 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?]
Inside Out and Back Again– Thanhha Lai & Full Cicada Moon- Marilyn Hilton, meets The Color of Rain-R.L Toalson & The Unsung Hero of Birdsong-USA- Brenda Woods.
- Why this book? Why now?
Even though Miles from Motown is a historical novel in verse, the themes are universal, such as friendships, bullying, loss, change, peace/war, using your voice, family secrets, and family support. History is important so that we know our past. The inclusion of Gwendolyn Brooks as Georgia’s role model is important and significant and is woven into the story intentionally as a strong woman who made history but more importantly made an impact on Georgia the poet. The storyline of Miles from Motown explores the racial tension Georgia and her family experience in her new neighborhood, a historical reality that continues today.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
The best job that I ever had and still have is being an elementary school teacher. I have been an educator for 35 years. I worked at a small private integrated arts school for eighteen years and currently work at The University of Chicago Lab Schools. As co-coordinator of my school’s Global Reading Challenge, I spend my summer reading middle-grade fiction and selecting books for the next school year. When the students are in their book discussion groups, I love to hear their insightful comments when they read, write and discuss the literature.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Readers can take away the idea that life is filled with change and everyone has the ability to hope and cope to deal with their life’s challenges. I want the reader to understand that even when a situation seems impossible it may work out in the end. At times, we all make spontaneous decisions that come from needing to take ownership, when you feel out of control, but that ultimately you need to find a way to be truthful and use your voice.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
The music I associate with this book is the Motown sound of the late 60’s especially Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
I just finished The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron, Clues of the Universe by Christina Li and I am currently reading The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga.
Learn more about Lisa at her website.
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