Happy Spooksgiving!

We like to keep things spooky over here on the blog, but with Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought it’d be nice to ask a few of my fellow spooky authors what they’re most grateful for this particularly scary year! Here’s what they have to say:

Sometimes it feels like there’s not a lot to be thankful for in 2020, but I’m thankful for books! SO many amazing stories came out this year, and I’m thankful for the chance to share them with my students.

-Lorien Lawrence, author of THE STITCHERS.

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I’m thankful for my super supportive husband and family and my awesome local writers’ group and the amazing Spooky MG Authors!

-Cynthia Reeg, author of the Monster or Die series

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I’m truly thankful that my son, who had Covid, has recovered. I’m thankful for all the hard work of first responders and medical staff in these difficult times. I’m thankful for the amazing work of scientists who have made medical miracles these past months. I’m grateful for the teachers and librarians who are struggling with these conditions and doing their very best, as they always do. I’m thankful for all of you, my friends, who have helped me from afar as we weather these storms together. And I’ll be truly thankful to see you all again in person.

-Janet Fox, author of THE ARTIFACT HUNTERS

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I always said I would get published if I got a dog. Mostly, I was joking, but somehow I always pictured an author tapping away on some ancient typewriter with a loyal dog by their side. So I adopted a rescue dog, partly for writing, partly to help with my anxiety. And I’m here to tell you it worked! Dogs are the answer. Even though I ended up adopting the world’s most fearful dog, she not only helped me with my anxiety, but she also helped me open up emotionally, something that proved totally necessary for the craft of writing. So this year I’m grateful for my dog, and my advice to all aspiring writers out there is to get themselves an amazing rescue pet.

-Kim Ventrella, author of THE SECRET LIFE OF SAM

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in addition to a so far healthy family and friends, I’m thankful for teaching and my students throughout this crazy year. They have kept me sane.

-Angie Smibert, author of the Ghosts of Ordinary Objects Series

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I am thankful for my family, for lasting friendships, and for the heroic teachers, nurses, and doctors who face the frontline of this pandemic every day. I’m also grateful to our young readers for helping the world’s imagination stay alive and well.

-Brad McLelland, co-author of the Legends of the Lost Causes series

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I’m grateful for my good health, and the health of my loved ones, and to have a job I love. I’m also grateful to be part of such a supportive and inspiring spooky community, and for all the librarians, teachers, parents, and readers who have ever picked up my books – you’re the reason I do what I do! And of course, last but not least, I’m grateful for my husband and two dogs who have been the best company to keep in quarantine!

-Tania del Rio, author of the Warren the 13th series

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And of course, all of us at Spooky Middle Grade are grateful for YOU, our readers! What about you? Comment below to share what you’re most thankful for this year. We hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Happy National Author’s Day!

Well, technically it’s tomorrow.

*spooky snort*

November 2nd is set apart on our National calendar to celebrate authors and all that encompasses. Think about it. We all have read something that has been published and written by someone else. Whether for school, work, or play, we’ve all read the written word. And yes, some of us have been fortunate enough to have our own words read by others.

*spooky cheer!*

So we thought it appropriate to honor some of our very own author inspirations, those who’ve helped us learn or reflect on ourselves, and escape the every day through the words they’ve written and the stories they’ve shared. Here’s a few of our spooky authors sharing some of their favorites.

I tend to look fondly on authors who gave me enjoyable female characters in fantasy when I was a kid…representation has improved so much that it can be hard to believe how sparse strong girl characters were in fantasy in the 70s and 80s! Works that pop out for me include the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, The Girl With the Silver Eyes, by Willo Davis Roberts…and I know people will quibble with Jane Drew from Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, but I loved her. I also devoured fairy and folktales of all sorts, because they’re so rich with symbolism, and because they can be both terrible and beautiful at the same time.

I’m going to “vote” for Kathi Appelt, partly because she was so generous to me early on in my career, and mainly because her Newbery Honor book The Underneath became my model for the kind of books I want to write.

Kim Ventrella

Recently, I’ve been inspired by Frances Hardinge, author of CUCKOO SONG, as well as many other beautiful books for young readers. Her books push the boundaries of imagination in ways that feel like a challenge. Every book contains a certain proportion of familiar and strange elements, usually tending toward the familiar. But Hardinge tackles truly strange concepts with both emotion and dexterity. Another recent inspiration is Akwaeke Emezi, author of PET. This novel manages to be utterly down-to-earth and soaringly surreal at the same time, while playing with language and exploring universal questions in ways that feel personal. The mixture of realism and magic reminds me of my favorite author in college, Sony Lab’ou Tansi.

There are lots of authors that I love for their books, but there are some true standouts because I love their books AND they’re amazing people who give to others selflessly. I was so inspired by the way Laurie Halse Anderson seemed to experiment with words in WINTER GIRLS and it made me realize that I could push boundaries too. Then I met Laurie and realized she’s as generous with her heart as she is with her craft. I felt the same way with Kathi Appelt, whose work and advice both directly impacted THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST. Read Bethany Hegedus’ words in GRANDFATHER GANDHI or RISE, to name just a couple of her books, and you see that she’s got a caring soul. But she’s also always been a cushion for me in my own writing career, lifting me up. And Cynthia Leitich Smith and Lesa Cline-Ransome are the same. Their works are brilliant, but outside of that, they go out of their way to be open, transparent and supportive to writers who are coming up behind them. These are only a handful of the authors who have inspired me and continue to inspire me every day. I hope to carry on their legacy and be the same kind of supportive author to other writers around me.

Growing up, I moved around a lot. As a result, I didn’t have lasting friendships, so books became my constant companions. I wanted to write a story that might help someone else get through a difficult time. So many authors gave that gift to me. I wanted to pay it forward.

I love, love, love The Chronicles of Narnia. To this day, I read the series at least once a year. It’s like getting a hug from an old friend. I’ve also read all of the Oz books, starting with, of course, The Wizard of Oz. I am a massive fan of Roald Dahl. Danny, The Champion of The World, was my favorite. But I think the book that resonated with me the most was The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It was about the daughter of a migrant worker. I related to her hopes, fears, and dreams on so many levels.

My first thought whenever asked about authors that have inspired me is always Jane Austen. To think of the ‘age’ in which she wrote, where women were thought less in society, astounds me and has given courage to pursue my own stories. More modern inspirational authors for me would be Kate Dicamillo, author of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, Alice Hoffman, author of NIGHTBIRD, and Katherine Applegate, author of WISHTREE. These woman are strong and resourceful, creating characters that tug at the heartstrings and stay with readers for years to come. Whether magic of the heart or tangible magic, they write carefully crafted worlds, journeying readers to places within themselves they didn’t know existed.

Authors have been inspiring hearts and minds for centuries. Whether through fiction or nonfiction, their ability to challenge our thinking often has caused humanity to step out of its comfort zone, to reflect on more than what can be seen. They make us seek the truth hidden beneath the psyche and root out evil in its place. Their words give us the courage to self-reflect, to grow, and to change, making the world a better place than when we first arrived here. But, through their devotion to storytelling, they also share the most intimate places of themselves with us. Finding strength, courage, and drive in their journeys is an exercise we can use in every aspect of our lives.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ~ William Wordsworth

Our entire spookymg author crew wishes the spookiest of Thank yous to all those explorers of the written word and to all those yet to come.