I’ve Got Questions for Marcie Roman

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.

Journey to the Parallels by Marcie Roman
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?

Journey to the Parallels, winner of the Kraken Book Prize for Middle-Grade fiction, will be published on May 24, 2022 by Fitzroy Books, an imprint of Regal House Publishing.

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?

Twelve-year-old Amber wants to fit in, but her eccentric mother keeps getting in the way. When Amber’s wish for a “normal” mother comes true, she suspects it’s not just her mother’s behavior that’s changed, but her actual mother. Amber’s search for answers leads to the discovery that her mother’s silly claim—that they can view a parallel world through the window of an old industrial building—might not be so silly after all. Amber and her younger brother Beetle journey into the other world to try to undo the havoc her wish created.

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

A fantasy adventure that shares a border with sci-fi.                                        

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?

I’ve loved hearing how much readers enjoy the immersive experience of the book—that sense of losing themselves in the story and characters.

On that note, Bookworm for Kids blogger Tonja Drecker wrote, “This book sweeps the reader up into a world, which hinges closely on reality and lets the fantasy trickle in…. It’s a great read for fun, for classrooms, for discussions, and more.” 

  • 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’ve heard it described it as A Wrinkle in Time meets Freaky Friday with a hint of Handmaid’s Tale for tweens. But I’ll add that it grew out of the creative compost of every book I loved growing up, from Judy Blume to Shel Silverstein (and there are probably some beloved T-Z authors that belong in there too).

  • Why this book? Why now?

When I wrote the book in the spring of 2016, I had no idea how politically relevant it would be in 2022. The novel’s parallel world imagines a repressive society in which girls don’t play sports (in part because Title IX no longer exists) and single mothers have been placed under heightened surveillance. But, outside of the political aspects, the book is also a timeless story about a mother and daughter trying to navigate their evolving relationship.

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

As a freelancer in theater and film production, I’ve been lucky to have worked on many projects where I thought, “now this one’s the best!” But, really, it’s anytime I’ve been invited to join a team of creative people working to bring stories into the world.

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book?

First and foremost, I hope they have an engaging reading experience where they get to question, wonder, and laugh a bit too! Thematically, I hope the book encourages readers to consider what it means to be an independent thinker, the value of keeping an open mind, and the impact of voting in local elections. Also, one of the main reasons I write is to be in conversation with books that have spoken to me, so if this book in anyway inspires a young reader to put their own stories into the world, that would be the most gratifying outcome.

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book?

Food: Vegetarian pasta for reasons that will become clear to anyone who reads the book (or who knows the author personally).

Music: I’ll go with what the characters might have been listening to at the time the book was written. The mother is probably singing along to Patti Smith and David Bowie (also not unlike the author). And for Amber, I’d say her playlist from that period probably includes Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Bruno Mars.

  • What book(s) are you reading currently?

I tend to read a lot of books simultaneously. For MG, I’ve been happily reading my way through recent Fitzroy publications, several of which have been mentioned in this blog! I’m also re-reading Charlotte’s Web at a very slow pace of just a few pages a day, which lets me experience White’s words in a new way (and because reading it always brings me joy). For adult fiction, I’ve just finished Free Love by Tessa Hadley. Also The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, which powerfully explores what it’s like to parent in a repressive society. In non-fiction, I’ve been caught up in Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard (a different sort of “parenting” tale). And for poetry, I’m excited to begin Ada Limón’s new collection, The Hurting Kind.

Marcie Roman

Learn more about Marcie on her website.

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Buy the book from the publisher (Regal House Publishing/Fitzroy Books), The Ivy Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org.

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