Would you rather Invent or be a Sky Jumper? Author Peggy Eddleman wants to be both!
GC: Can you share some of your publication journey with readers?
PE: When I first got married, my husband would occasionally say, "You should write a book. I think you'd be good at it." And I would just think, That's so random! Why don't you just say, "You should try skydiving. I think you'd be good at it." Or "You should be a biological engineer. I think you'd be good at it."
Then we had kids, and as soon as they were old enough to understand middle grade books, I started reading them to my kids every night. For years.
Meanwhile, I somehow convinced a couple of my friends to embrace a tv series that I loved, along with its spinoff. They loved it too, and ended up watching a total of 244 episodes. When they were finished, it occurred to me (possibly because of my husband's random "You should write a book" comments) that I could write them into the story. And that I should. So I wrote my first book, and it was one of the funnest things I'd ever done.
THEN, I read it to my kids. In our nightly ritual, I read them a book that I had written. It was the most amazing experience ever. I knew right then and there that writing middle grade books was what I wanted to spend my life doing. I dove in head first, with an eye to publication from the very beginning. I read every craft book I could get my hands on, and scoured hundred and hundreds of writing blogs, learning every thing I could. I went to conferences and classes and workshops. I found critique partners. I signed up for webinars. Writing wasn't far from my thoughts for the smallest of moments.
Five manuscripts later, I knew the book I had written was a winner, and I knew I had revised it so thoroughly that it had a really good chance. I didn't query any of my earlier books-- I waited until I had "the one." I just gleaned every bit of skill I could along the way, until all the pieces fell into place, and I knew my book and I were both ready. At that point, finding an agent and then getting a book deal went quickly.
GC: Which of your characters is most like you? Are any of your characters inspired by people in your life?
PE: Although in many ways I'm not like him, I still think I'm most like my main character's best friend, Aaren. I was a teacher pleaser and an inventor, just like him. (Although I have never been interested in being a doctor. Ever. I'm much too wimpy in the presence of injuries for that.)
The town's super inventor, Mr. Hudson, was inspired by my dad. Until my dad retired, he was very literally a Rocket Scientist by day, and a Jack-of-All-Trades by night. Whenever I have a question-- from plumbing to power sources to geology to car repair and everything in between and beyond, he can answer it. In high school, my dad's friends nicknamed him "Hudson" (after the car), so as a nod to my dad, a.k.a. my go-to reference guide, I named the smartest person in town Mr. Hudson.
GC: If you were part of Hope's world and found it necessary to invent, what ideas would you throw out? Or would you be a sky jumper instead?
PE: Can't I be both?
GC: It's your world, we're just living in it, Peggy! ; )
PE: I loved inventing as a child-- finding discarded pieces of things, and repurposing them, especially. But I also grew up with mischievous and fun brothers who always came up with daring things to try. Ha! In a lot of ways, they were like my main character, Hope. And I was like Aaren. A rule-follower who was easily talked into taking fun and daring risks. I was (almost always) glad that they talked me into going with them. Some of my favorite memories of childhood were sky jumping-esque.
GC: What message are you hoping to convey to your readers?
PE: That EVERYBODY has strengths. Things that they can do better than anyone else. It's important to work on your weaknesses and become better at things. But it's just as important to figure out what your strengths are, and to USE THEM. Regardless of what the people around you wish your strengths were, the strengths that you do have will be invaluable if you dare to make the most of them.
GC: What's next for you as a writer?
PE: I'm just finishing edits on the second book in the SKY JUMPERS series that will be out at this time next year. I am so excited for people to read it!