Please help me welcome Class of 2K12's Joanne Levy. Joanne's middle grade debut novel is titled Small Medium at Large and will be in stores July 3, 2012. I want to thank Joanne for being so wonderful about the interview!
What was your favorite part about writing Small Medium at Large?
I had so much fun with this book! I channeled my inner 12 year old and took myself back in time to when I was just discovering boys and the weird stuff that was happening to my body. One of the great things about writing Lilah was capturing that innocent time when you think you know everything but are just starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, you’re in over your head and the world holds a lot more than you ever imagined.
Why Middle Grade?
I actually wrote this book as a YA, but a very wise editor thought my funny voice would work better in a book geared to tweens. I’d never really considered writing Middle Grade before that, but I must have done something right!
Can you tell us about Lilah Bloom?
Lilah is a great character, full of that pluckiness that comes along with being twelve. She lives with her divorced dad and really hopes to grow up and be a drummer for a rock band someday, preferably with her best friend Alex on guitar.
Small Medium at Large sounds like a lot of fun—was it hard not to go dark with the ghost angle?
When this book was a YA, it was a lot darker and there were more mature themes, including teen depression and suicide. But when I was rewriting it for a middle grade audience, I was specifically asked to write about happy-go-lucky ghosts, which seemed odd to me, at first. Especially when it was also requested that Lilah hang out with ghosts of her own age. I can’t imagine a lot of twelve-year-olds who would be great with being dead, nor did I think a lot of tweens would want to read about dead kids, because I thought that might make them a little too worried about their own mortality and Small Medium at Large, the tween version, is meant to be a fun book. So, although I did include one mischievous boy-ghost (who Lilah helps in the end), for the most part, the ghosts are grown-ups who had very long, happy lives.
What kind of crazy adventures will Lilah get into when helping her grandmother? Oh, well I don’t want to reveal TOO much, but Lilah’s grandmother, Bubby Dora is very keen on getting her son, Lilah’s dad, a new wife. Although Lilah is on board with her dad dating, she’s not comfortable being a matchmaker for her dorky father! She does help out some, though, but even despite her tips and Bubby’s help, Lilah’s dad’s dates are mostly disastrous. Lilah also ends up enlisting the help of a fashion designer ghost to help save the school fashion show.
Is this a stand alone or a series?
As it is right now, Small Medium at Large is a stand alone, but I’m hoping it will become a series down the road. That’s up to my publisher, Bloomsbury and readers, of course!
What are your plans for your next book?
I have a lot of irons in the fire, but like I said above, I’m hoping to write more books about Lilah and her special ability (to get into mischief!). But I’ve also written another Middle Grade book about a boy who finds himself alone in the woods with only a talking spider for an ally. It’s another magic realism type book that I had a lot of fun writing. I’m also working on a fun YA project—it’s still too early to talk about, but I will say that parts of it are semi-autobiographical, making it extra-fun to write because it lets me go back to my very awkward teen days! Being an awkward kid has really paid off!
Thanks for the fun interview, Cari!