Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes MG author and illustrator Rita Monette.
First, a bit about Rita:
Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She enjoys writing stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. She is working on a middle grade series called The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends. Rita now lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee.
Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?
I originally wanted to write children’s picture books and did pen a few failures. Then I decided to write about my childhood growing up in the 1950s, and my life as a swamper’s kid. It turned into a novel. I loved the process of the longer story and love the innocence of the middle grade age group.
What types of books do you like to read?
I also like to read middle grade books to keep my head in that age group. Also, I think this genre tends to be written better. Adult readers skim over mistakes in plots, or bad wording, but kids don’t. They see everything, and, as one of my young readers said when I did a second edition… “If you changed one word, I’ll know it”. So if you write middle grade, you’d better get it right.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I am also an artist, and illustrate my books. I like to paint and draw when I can. I do artistic projects for friends and also sell them at craft shows. I also do face and body art at local festivals.
Tell us about The Curse at Pirate's Cove and how the story came to be.
The second book in my Nikki Landry Swamp Legend series is called The Curse at Pirate’s Cove. I hadn’t intended to write a series, but readers of book one, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, wanted more of Nikki and Snooper. Since in book one, Nikki decides to learn the truth behind a swamp legend told to her by her father, I decided to give her another legend to figure out.
Here's a peek at The Curse at Pirate's Cove:
Nikki’s friend Spikes has talked about an ancient ship sitting in the cove at Fog Island that he believed belonged to the pirate, Jean Lafitte. He tells her he’s heard a legend about pirates burying treasure in a swamp near the wreck. With every legend, there’s usually a dire warning…but legends don’t scare Nikki. While blowing out her birthday candles, Nikki makes a wish to find the pirates’ gold, and then writes it in her diary to seal the deal. But did that wish trigger a curse?
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
The Legend of Ghost Dog Island is my first published novel. In book one, Nikki Landry’s family is moving their houseboat into a new bayou. Nikki hears some howling noises and feels something is watching her from a nearby island. When Papa tells her one of his swamp legends, he adds that behind every legend lies the truth. Nikki and her new friends begin to uncover strange happenings from years ago that may have started the old legend…and town folks aren’t talking. When her beloved beagle, Snooper, goes missing, she becomes even more determined to learn the truth.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I am currently working on book three in the Nikki Landry series, currently titled The Secret in Mossy Swamp. I am also trying to finish another middle grade/young adult novel I started a few years back.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Write what you love despite the trends. If your heart is in it, the reader will love it too.
Anything else you want readers to know?
This series, based on my childhood and set in the 1950s, occurs in real places, but with fictional adventures. I also like to add a little historical information, which I elaborate on in the author’s notes.
Where can readers find you and your books?
My Facebook author page
My book on Amazon