Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages.
Today is Veteran's Day.
Before getting to our feature author interview, I want to take time to thank all the veterans and serving military for their service to our country.
In my family, my father and my younger brother both served.
My father in the Navy in WWII.
Thank you all again.
Carpinello's Writing Pages
Welcomes MG Author A.M. Luzzader
Here's a bit about A.M. Luzzader:
A.M. Luzzader is the author of the middle-grade series A Mermaid in Middle Grade and other books. She is first and foremost a mother to her two energetic and intelligent sons, and from this role she draws much of her writing inspiration. Amanda was awarded the Writer of the Year award for 2019–2020 by the League of Utah Writers. She is a devout cat person.
Why did you pick to write books for MG?I’ve written books for an adult readership, and I’m very proud of that work. However, I’ve felt for a long time—maybe not even consciously—that I should direct my writing toward a younger audience. As I said, I’m a mom. Also, I worked for a long time at a nonprofit organization that helps families. So, with this acute interest in and a passion for the well-being of young people, I recently switched writing markets. Now I write stories and characters meant to resonate with the middle-grade age group. It’s been a lot of fun. I can be outlandish and even silly but still make meaningful points and write compelling stories. Every author has to find a genre and form that is challenging, fun, rewarding—for me, that’s middle-grade.
What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?
I read anything and everything—by design. Non-fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, young-adult fiction. I read inside my comfort zone and areas of interest, but then I purposely wander across those boundaries. Earlier this year I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, both very cerebral and dark. Then I read Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman—a little bit less-serious. This year I also read a lot of Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling and Lucy Maud Montgomery. I love books on self-improvement books—books on how to be more creative, successful, and organized, though I don’t always take their advice.
When I’m not writing or reading, you can probably catch me watching a movie or binge-watching a TV series, especially now, during the pandemic. Just before the pandemic I took up knitting—that seems fortuitous now. I love to travel, and I’m very fond of tea, so wherever I go I’m eager to check out local tea shops and do tea-tastings or ceremonies.
Tell us about A Mermaid in Middle Grade and how the story came to be.
The conception of this book series was somewhat unusual. It started when I saw this really interesting book cover for sale online. It was created by a cover design artist that I like. It was this cute little mermaid against a backdrop of coral and shafts of sunlight filtering down through the blue-green water. And it completely captured my imagination. Nothing like this had really ever happened to me. I looked at this book cover and the story of this mermaid in sixth grade began forming in my head. I thought of scenarios with real-life middle-grade issues and friend politics, but it also had this undersea, mer-magical aspect to it.
So, I bought that book cover, and that made it real—now I had to write at least one book about this sixth-grade mermaid with lavender hair and aquamarine scales. So, the story really began with the imagery on that unsold book cover. A lot of the stories are based on things I struggled with when I was her age—self-confidence, jealousy, working through problems with friends and family. All merfolk in these books have magical abilities, which they use to help the ocean and sea creatures, and Brynn learns about that in her school classes, but it’s a little like calculus class or chemistry—it doesn’t come easy for everyone.
The Mermaid in Middle Grade series is a fantasy adventure and coming of age book series appropriate for preteens and all who enjoy middle grade books. Educational topics: Ocean and marine life, environmental conservation, honesty, friendship, mindfulness, middle school, and interpersonal skills.
Here's a peek at A Mermaid in Middle School - The Talisman of Lostland:
A young mermaid. A sea witch out for revenge.
Can Brynn Finley become a sea guardian and help humans in danger when she just barely started the sixth grade?
Brynn Finley is the only mermaid in class who hasn't been able to learn mer-magic. Without it, she can't be a guardian of the sea with her parents and friends. On her quest for answers, Brynn encounters a loveable sea turtle, a pair of selkie sisters, and Phaedra, the great and terrible sea witch.
Soon Brynn is over her head in trouble, and she must learn to ask for help if she's going to follow the merfolk oath to be a protector of the ocean and a guardian of the sea.
How do you go about researching for your stories?
When I worked at a nonprofit whose mission was to protect children, I received lots of training about childhood development and childhood trauma, and I put a lot of that to use in my books. For example, the merfolk in the books can do magic, but their abilities work best when they’re feeling calm and mindful. So, they practice mindfulness and certain meditation techniques to make their magic effective. Well, mindfulness is of course something that kids can practice in real life, to help them do well on a test or even manage tricky situations on the playground.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Before I began writing middle grade books, I was writing books for adults. Those are under the name Amanda Luzzader. I wrote a post-apocalyptic trilogy called Among These Bones, and I had written it long before COVID-19 came along, but, coincidentally, the series is also about a global pandemic. The one in my book wipes out most of the Earth’s human population. A cure is found, but it has to be taken once a year, and unfortunately, it also wipes out your memory. So, you have this population of survivors who are under the control of a medical agency with a cure that leaves you with only one year of memory at a time. The main character is a mother whose teenage son goes missing. If she can’t find him before it’s time to take the treatment again, she’ll forget she has a son.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I’m in the editing stage Voices of Harmony, the third book in the Mermaid in Middle Grade series, but that should be wrapped up pretty soon. I’m also working on a new story called Hannah Saves the World, which is another middle grade book that should be pretty fun. Then, I’ll be back to finishing the rest of the Mermaid in Middle Grade books.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Being an author can be discouraging sometimes. It can be very challenging to reach readers to even let them know your book exists. My advice would be to not get caught up checking the numbers. Authors can spend the entire day checking what their book ranks are or how many books they’ve sold, but that isn’t productive. Focus instead on the work—do the writing and don’t worry about the numbers. Eventually the numbers will reflect the work you’ve done.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I love interacting with readers!
If readers write to me, I promise to write back! They can send a letter to:
Knowledge Forest Press
P.O. Box 6331
Logan, Utah 84341
They can also email me at: Contact@amandaluzzader.com
Where can readers find you and your books?
A Mermaid in Middle Grade
My paperback and hardback books are available at most book retailers. If you don’t see it, just ask and it can probably be ordered in.