I’m so thrilled to welcome Margaret Finnegan to #TeamMarchini and BookEnds Literary! Margaret’s contemporary middle grade immediately pulled me in with a pitch-perfect mg voice and an amazing opening scene. I also just love Hank and his sometimes-antagonist Maisie (particularly when it comes to Maisie’s sense of logic.) This manuscript, Booler, is an act of love, and I’m so glad to have it on my list. I hope you enjoy learning more about Margaret’s journey to middle grade fiction!
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
After many years of writing for adults, I turned to middle-grade fiction because I wanted to write a book that my daughter would enjoy. My daughter has multiple disabilities, including autism and epilepsy. My girl loves to read, especially middle-grade fiction, but she has two problems.
One, unfamiliar books sort of scare her. She has been burned too many times by seemingly sunny stories that turn suddenly sad (I’m talking to you Charlotte and Wilber) or seemingly sad stories that turn, in fact, desperately sadder (I’m talking to you Boy in the Striped Pajamas). Now the girl won’t read anything new. But she loves stories! She needed a new story.
Two, the girl wants to see herself on the page (and the screen). The girl wants to read about people with disabilities, and she wants them to be the heroes of their own stories, and she doesn’t want them to come to tragic ends. (Can you hear me, John Green?)
So here is the thing with special needs moms. When our kids have a problem, we try to fix it. Oftentimes we can’t. But this was something I could do. I could give my daughter a story and I could make some sure that it spoke to her. So, of course, that is what I did.
The result is Booler, the story of boy with autism, a girl with a secret, and the seizure-prone dog they try to save from its seemingly neglectful owner. And here is what I learned writing Booler: I love writing middle-grade fiction. I love that the characters are still trying to figure out who they are in the world. I love that the characters can exist in a world governed by their own optimism, a world that is simultaneously sunny yet unpredictable and true. Especially as a special needs mom, this is a world that I want to believe in. So I am hoping to hang out in this world for a long time. Booler is my first MG story. But it won’t be my last.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
If I am not reading or writing, you might catch me walking my dog, Scout, who is a bit of a hero. She taught herself to bark for help whenever my girl is having a seizure. I also like to grow tomatoes (because store-bought tomatoes are an abomination) and bake delicious things that fill my house with the scent of chocolate.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
Please! Find me! And let me find you!
Facebook author’s page: https://www.facebook.com/authorMargaretFinnegan/
Thank you, Margaret!