I’m so thrilled to welcome Middle Grade author J.M Evenson as the newest member of #TeamMoe. The moment I started reading her book set in Istanbul I was instantly hooked. Actually, it made me want to book a flight to Turkey ASAP (I’m so lucky my authors love writing about foreign locales but it’s murder on my credit card…). You didn’t come here to hear me babble, so I’ll let J.M. introduce herself in her own words!
What do you love about writing middle grade fiction?
As a kid, I hated reading until I found Roald Dahl. He was extraordinarily imaginative and funny and wonderful and deliciously nasty! The first books I ever loved were middle grade masterpieces, and I still adore the genre.
I also love that I get to share my story ideas with my kids. They’re a tough crowd, but they give good notes. (Such as: rolling their eyes; pinching their eyebrows; and smiling.)
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I started writing children’s literature accidentally. My two year-old daughter wanted to visit the library to get a new book, but I was overloaded with errands that day. When I told her “no,” she cried bitterly – it was terrible. That night, after dinner and bath and she went to bed, I thought: I know how to fix this. I’ll write her a new book. I took some paper and a stapler, got a pencil, and conjured up a book about friendly moon monsters for her. I loved the process – so here I am.
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
I go to my attic and cast bones, then scry for ideas.
I’m kidding! I sacrifice a sheep. Next question?
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
I’m probably watching “Rogue One”… AGAIN.
What’s the last book you read?
Rebecca Stead’s “When You Reach Me.” Yes, I realize I’m late to the game but OH MY what an amazing book that was! I loved it.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
I would own an 18th-century Ottoman mansion on the Bosphorus. It would have a modern refrigerator that was magically stocked with an everlasting stash of cheese.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
“You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner…You have only your emotions to sell.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
I absolutely always compile a bevy of inspiring images and concoct a playlist. For every chapter, I find a group of images that set the tone and use it to help me push forward. The images and music change with each chapter. This is one of my favorite parts of my writing process!
Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?
My name is J. M. Evenson and I’m a coffee addict. #Sorrynotsorry
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
One of my favorite mentors once told me the difference between a successful and unsuccessful writers is how they handle despair. I think this is true from one end of the writing process to the other. I’ve received a thousand writing rejections of one kind or another. I’m sure to receive a thousand more, in all new forms. The key, for all of us, is: don’t despair. Persist.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
SCBWI and SFWA.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
@JM_Evenson on Twitter and jm_evenson on Instagram.