Happy new year to all! It doesn’t seem possible that it’s already 2015, but time marches on. And, speaking of March, our guest of the day, Debbie Dadey, is hosting an SCBWI event on March 21, 2015 in Hartsville, PA! So, mark your calendars right now, then read on to learn a little bit more about the accomplished and delightful Debbie. She’s the author and co-author of 158 books (yes, 158!), and counting (her web site is full of book info and fun facts!). Share a laugh and be inspired, and don’t forget to say hi to Debbie in the comments. Here she comes!
Lindsay: Hi there, Debbie, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our cozy booth, what will you have to drink?
Debbie: I am very much into Vanilla Lattes right now!
Lindsay: Anything to munch on?
Debbie: Who could pass up a cookie?
Lindsay: Considering the magnificence of our cookies, no one in their right minds. What’s that? I have chocolate on my chin? Oopsie. Okay, so, I hear you have an anniversary coming up! What are you doing to celebrate 25 years since your first book was published?
Debbie: Thanks for asking Lindsay! Marcia Thornton Jones and I could never have dreamed that our first book, Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots, would go on to become a series of 65 books, with two additional spin-off series. My handsome youngest son made me a video to celebrate the 25th anniversary. My December 2014 newsletter is all about Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots and has chances to win books. In addition, several of Scholastic’s Reading Clubs will be having special sets throughout the year of the Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series.
Lindsay: So fun! Congratulations! Can you give us a little teaser about the books you have coming out next?
Debbie: In January, Mermaid Tales #10- A Tail of Two Sisters, comes out. In that story, Echo finds something special, but her sister claims she found it first. It’s a war between the two sisters and it looks like no one will win! In May, Polar Bear Express comes out. My mermaids rescue a polar bear. I must say the illustrator, Takevik Avakyan, has out done herself. The illustrations are adorable!
Lindsay: It must be awesome to see your words coming to life in the hands of a great illustrator like Takevik! Speaking of collaboration, you’ve worked together with Marcia Thornton Jones to co-author the Bailey School Kids Series. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration of the series and the collaboration process?
Debbie: Marcia and I joked that if we were monster teachers, the kids would pay attention to us. Viola! Mrs. Jeepers, the vampire teacher, was born! Marcia and I play ‘hot-potato’ with the story, tossing it back and forth via email and also working as each other’s editor.
Lindsay: I’ve considered that becoming a monster mom might do me some good with my 3-year-old. She loves monsters, though, so she’d either be scared into submission or think I’m even cooler. (Which means that in a few short years, I’m sure she’ll love your books, too!)
So, I know you’re passionate about helping reluctant readers. What are some specific strategies you use in your writing and your school visits to engage kids who might not really enjoy reading?
Debbie: I try to use humor a lot in my writing and in my school visits. Humor is a universal language. Even a kid who doesn’t like to read will laugh at a silly woman who can’t juggle worth beans. And if they laugh, they might just be tempted to read a bit!
Lindsay: Which of your characters is most like you?
Debbie: I’d say Melody from the Bailey School Kids and Shelly from the Mermaid Tales because I do like sports and am not really very girly-girly, but still deep down I wouldn’t mind being a princess on occasion.
Lindsay: What was the last book you read that made you….
Laugh out loud? Hmmm
Cry? A picture book called Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock.
Stay up way too late? Every book I read! I am currently rereading Cress in anticipation of the new book in the Lunar Chronicle series coming out soon.
Wish you had written it yourself? Every one I read!
Lindsay: I’ve heard that you have gone to some pretty serious lengths to get story ideas. What was your wildest adventure in the pursuit of creative juices?
Debbie: For Mrs. Jeepers in Outer Space I went to Space Camp and for Wolfmen Don’t Hula Dance I went to Hawaii. For Hercules Doesn’t Pull Teeth I went to the dentist and for Mummies Don’t Coach Softball I got to go to Egypt. For Whistler’s Hollow, I drove eight hours so I could sit on a coal train. I took notes so I could write one paragraph about what it felt like. It must have worked because when that book came out, the publisher of Bloomsbury USA said, “It felt like I was really on that train.” I also slid into a shark tank for Danger in the Deep Blue Sea. Probably the craziest thing I have done for writing was to fall out of a plane! I wrote a story, that I’ve never sold, where a grandmother wanted to go sky-diving. So, I figured to be able to write about it I should experience it. Big mistake!!
Lindsay: *note to self: If you need to write a skydiving scene, talk to Debbie.
If you could choose a theme song for your writing life, what would it be?
Debbie: How about Hero by Mariah Carey. The words are pretty powerful for writers:
Dreams are hard to follow
But don’t let anyone
Tear them away
There will be tomorrow
You’ll find the way
Lindsay: You are about to become the first shape-shifting children’s author ever recorded in official history books. What do you become when the moon is full?
Debbie: Werewolf/mermaid. Hey, this is fiction, anything can happen!
Lindsay: And now, for rapid-fire favorites! Name your favorite…..
Thing about Kentucky-family
Book on the craft of writing-Story Sparkers that Marcia Jones and I wrote (currently being revamped as an ebook)
Place to write-my little office at my house
Sport or recreational activity-tennis
Song to play on the piano-I am in love with the music that my friend Diane Vallentine wrote to accompany my words for The Mermaid Song that I wrote.
Bird-robin (but on the inside of my window sill-the blue glass blue bird my mother gave me for good luck).
Lindsay: You’re planning a regional event for the month of March….can you tell us a little bit about what to expect?
Debbie: My critique group and I are planning to host an event at the historic Moland House in Hartsville, PA on March 21st from 9-12:00. Here’s a bit of what to expect:
- First page-an agent and editor and author will give their thoughts on the first line of your story.
2. Things I did right and things I did wrong panel. This panel is comprised of six writers who’ll share their trials and tricks of success.
3. Ask the expert panel-an agent, editor, and author will answer your questions about the writing process and about getting published.
4. Tour the historic Moland House and get advice on writing historical fiction and non-fiction in each room!
Lindsay: What a gorgeous venue! And the lineup sounds fantastic! Thanks so much for stopping by to chat with us, Debbie!