We continue our week-long feature on Middle Grade reads for summer today with an exclusive interview! Elena, our Middle Grade reviewer, recently shared her thoughts on Fifties Chix: Travel to Tomorrow by Angela Sage Larsen. Today, we’re delighted to bring you Elena’s Q&A with Angela.
Angela responded on video, below, but you can also scroll down to read her responses as well!
You can also read the transcript of our Q&A below:
I’ve always loved to tell stories, whether it’s through words or through painting and drawing. I was inspired to write the Fifties Chix series after first drawing the five different characters–one girl obsessed with Hollywood and the movies, one girl who is a tomboy who loves sports, another who is a homemaker who enjoys sewing and cooking, one girl who is concerned about social issues and a girl who is very artistic and loves to paint. I imagined how they would act and what they would think–and even how others would perceive them–if they were to be dropped right in present day straight from the 1950s.
Why did you select the 50s to write about?
The 1950s is considered by many to be a “golden era” in America that will never be seen again. America had come out of World War II and The Great Depression and people were starting to find success and prosperity. It was a time of hope and dreams. In many ways, there was a picture perfect image of the American Dream being lived out. At the same time, there were many issues like women’s rights and racial equality that were coming to a head. I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the 50s with present day because we all want to fit in–and the 1950s was so much about conformity; and we also all value individuality and uniqueness–which is such a focus today. I thought it would be fun to see how these characters in the Fifties Chix went on a quest to find their place within themselves, with each other as friends, and in society.
I had so much fun writing the whole book, it’s hard to choose a favorite part. But…there are two parts that I particularly had fun with; one was the baseball scene with Beverly playing shortstop. That was a great scene to write because my husband helped me write it. It was cool to visualize it with him and incorporate his expertise and love of baseball into the book. The other scene that was fun is toward the end of the book when the Fifties Chix all go to a school dance and rock out to “Rock Around the Clock.”
What was your proudest moment in the process of this book?
The proudest moment in the process of this book started out as my most frustrating and depressing moment. I had finished the book and was pretty happy with it, but after my editor read it, she told me some major things needed to be worked out. At first I was kind of mad and spent 2 days fuming about it. Then I let myself think about her suggestions. I wrote everything down on index cards and pinned them to the wall so that I made an overview for every character and every plot line for all five books. When I did that, I worked out some major plot issues and discovered some things about the story I wouldn’t otherwise have figured out. I rewrote and heavily edited the book and now I really love it; it’s richer and flows better and hints at some things coming down the line with the other stories. I’m so glad my editor spoke up and I’m so glad I finally got humble enough to do the rewrite!
How does it feel to publish a book?
Before a book is published, it feels like it would be the best thing that could happen. Then when it gets published, it takes humility and courage to realize that perfect strangers all over the country and world will be reading your story! It takes just as much humility to receive praise as it does to receive criticism. Besides that, it’s pretty cool to feel like you are on a journey with whoever is reading the book because you now have these characters and their thoughts, dreams, challenges and victories in common. It’s a cool bond.
Will you write more books?
Definitely! Right now, I’m working on the third book in the Fifties Chix series and there are five books planned total. I already have a children’s book series I wrote and illustrated published and I have many, many more ideas and outlines for book series, individual titles and even screen plays! I love writing and even if I wasn’t doing it for a living, I’d do it for fun.
Thanks again to Angela for answering all of Elena’s great questions for us!