Elly Swartz is a middle-grade author, but that’s not the whole story. She’s been a Sesame Place ride operator, messenger, legal author, lawyer, business owner, and college essay adviser. To that add, mom of two amazing sons (19 and 22, yikes!) and wife to one great guy. Recently, the fortune in her Bazooka Joe gum read, “You have the ability to become outstanding in literature.” Elly continues to find inspiration in the most unexpected places!
In Elly’s middle-grade novel, FINDING PERFECT (Macmillan/Farrar Straus and Giroux, Oct. 18, 2016), when twelve-year-old Molly’s mom, aka The Juice Lady, leaves the family to take a job in Canada, Molly tries to deal with her out of control world by organizing, counting, and ultimately, winning her middle school’s slam poetry competition.
- Favorite book growing up: Judy Blume, ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET?
- Childhood aspiration: To be a doctor (until she realized she faints at the sight of blood)
- Favorite time of day/place to write: The early morning at her desk with her coffee and her puppy beagle, Lucy, sleeping next to her.
- Book currently reading/most recently read: Tara Dairman, ALL FOUR STARS/ Jeanne Ryan, NERVE.
- Favorite things to do (other than reading): Anything with her family, hike, run, work on crossword puzzles, cook, walk Lucy
- Favorite sports teams: Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox
- Surprising personal fact: When she was little, all she ate were hotdogs with yellow mustard and black olives!
- Greatest thing about being a 2016 debut author: Everything! And, she gets a year and a half to enjoy the anticipation.
Where to find her:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London in 1990, and now lives in Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires. As well as writing novels, she is a published poet and playwright. Kiran does her best writing in bed or in pubs, which are two of her favourite places. She studied at Cambridge University and Oxford University, and was about to do a PhD when she decided writing was much more fun (though no less hard!)
Kiran’s debut novel, THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS (Scholastic/Chicken House UK May 5, 2016)/ THE CARTOGRAPHER’S DAUGHTER (Random House/Knopf US July 2016) is a middle grade action/adventure. When her closest friend disappears into her island’s Forgotten Territories, Isabella Riosse volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart. But beneath the smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
- Favorite book growing up: Kiran still doesn’t feel quite grown up, but one of her favourite books was (and still is) THE NORTHERN LIGHTS trilogy by Philip Pullman.
- Childhood aspiration: The first woman on Mars! She was determined, until she realised you have to wee in your spacesuit (she’s a bit of a germaphobe).
- Favorite time of day/place to write: After lunch until late, preferably in a pub or in bed. Though this is the source of great guilt, as she just moved into a house with a beautiful study.
- Book currently reading/most recently read: Kiran just finished THE BOY WHO LOST FAIRYLAND by Catherynne M Valente, and is now reading THE EXTRAORDINARY AND UNUSUAL ADVENTURES OF HORATIO LYLE by Catherine Webb.
- Favorite things to do (other than reading): Kiran loves dancing to music of all kinds, cooking of all kinds, and cuddling cats of all kinds.
- Surprising personal fact: When she was just weeks old, Nelson Mandela proclaimed her the most beautiful baby he’d ever seen. Her looks went downhill from there.
- Greatest thing about being a 2016 debut author: Being a Sweet Sixteener!
Where to find her:
Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Jennie K. Brown is an English teacher by day, freelance magazine writer by night and MG/YA author by late night and weekend. When she’s not teaching, reading or writing, she can be found hanging out with her amazing family!
Jennie’s debut novel, POPPY MAYBERRY, THE MONDAY (Month9Books/Tantrum Books, August 2016) is the first in a midde grade series. It’s about a town where special powers are determined by the day of one’s birth and a girl (Poppy Mayberry) whose Monday telekinesis skills need a bit of work. Because of this, Poppy is sent to a remedial summer camp – Power Academy – where she is teamed up with her arch nemesis, a mind-reading Thursday Ellie Preston, to solve a mystery and combat the awful Headmistress Larriby and her equally awful side-kick Mr. Grimeley!
- Favorite book growing up: REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier.
- Childhood aspiration: News Anchor or Author.
- Favorite time of day/place to write: Early morning and late night. Her home office or at a coffee shop of some sort.
- Book currently reading/most recently read: THE SECRETS WE KEEP by Trisha Leaver.
- Favorite things to do (other than reading): Spend time with her family, travel, eat good food and drink good wine.
- Surprising personal fact: She loves all-things Shakespeare! In fact, her 1-year-old son dressed as William Shakespeare this past Halloween.
- Greatest thing about being a 2016 debut author: Being part of such an amazing group of debut MG/YA authors!
Where to find her:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Add Book
When A. E. Conran was her main character Mikey’s age she had a tin of Roman and Celtic warriors, which she never finished painting, and a desire to time travel, which remains with her still. A fan of historical fiction by Rosemary Sutcliff and Henry Treece, she also heard stories from parents, grandparents, and friends about living through, and returning from, war. Today she works as a freelance editor, bookseller, booktalker and children’s book club facilitator in Northern California.
A.E.’s debut novel, THE LOST CELT ( Goosebottom Books/Gosling Press, March 15, 2016) is a contemporary middle grade adventure. Primed by their favorite video war game pitting Ancient Celts against the Romans, Mikey and Kyler are convinced that they’ve seen a real live Celtic warrior. Has the Celt time-traveled as part of a secret defense project? In tracking him down, the boys solve the biggest mystery of their lives.
- Favorite book growing up: VIKING’S DAWN by Henry Treece…but she finds this an impossible question. Amanda has a bookshelf of her childhood books and a Pinterest board devoted to them. She lets them take turns as her top favorite.
- Childhood aspiration: An actor and/or writer
- Favorite time of day/place to write: In the morning at her kitchen table, occasionally distracted by the antics of the squirrels and birds in the garden. As she types, a gang of American Robins have taken the yard by storm.
- Book currently reading/most recently read: LISTEN TO THE MOON by Michael Morpurgo and THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin – WOW!
- Favorite things to do (other than reading): Collecting antique buttons. Acting with her family in community theatre. Visiting museums, historic sites and battlefields. Watching films.
- Favorite sports teams: She loves watching Rugby Union, especially during the World Cup. Her local team in the UK was the Leicester Tigers, but she could never claim to be an avid supporter.
- Surprising personal fact: She once flew and made a catch on the flying trapeze!
- Greatest thing about being a 2016 debut author: Fulfilling a dream. Sharing her love and belief in the power of story especially in middle grade novels. Learning, and sometimes being completely befuddled by, the many new technologies and skillsets that go along with being a published author.
Where to find her:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Add Book
Dee Romito lives in her hometown of Buffalo, New York. You’re likely to find her on adventures with her husband and two energetic kids, at the local ice cream shop, or curled up in a comfy chair with her cats. She loves to write, travel, and giggle like a teenager with her friends.
Dee’s middle grade debut, THE BFF BUCKET LIST (Aladdin/S&S 2016) takes us along as two best friends set out to complete each task on their list before the end of summer. But as new friends, epic opportunities, and super-cute boys enter the picture, the challenges on the list aren’t the only ones they face.
Dee is a member of the Sweet Sixteens Admin Team, helping manage the group’s Twitter account.
- Childhood aspiration: Actress, teacher
- Favorite place to write: Wegmans (They have everything in that food court!)
- Book currently reading: THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion
- Favorite things to do: Spend time with family & friends, travel, take lots of pictures
- Favorite sports teams: All her Buffalo teams and the Atlanta Braves.
- Surprising personal fact: She can say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards.
- Greatest thing about being a 2016 debut author: Every time she hears “Sweet 16” she thinks of Sixteen Candles and Jake Ryan. #grewupinthe80s Also, debuting with so many writer friends!
Where to find her:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Add Book | Blog