I'm happy to welcome Wendy McLeod MacKnight, the author of It's a Mystery, Pig Face! to The Hiding Spot today. Wendy is here to talk about her debut, her writing process, next book, and more!
The inspiration was my relationship with my younger brother, whom I did call Pig Face a few times when he was driving me around the bend, something I am NOT proud of!Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
I wanted the reader to get the sense of a genuine relationship between Tracy and Lester. She loves her brother, but she’s getting older and wants to be alone with her friend, too. Lester is dogging Tracy and what she doesn’t realize is that he admires her so much and that he’s also kind of lonely because like her, he isn’t like other kids, but he hasn’t found his own Ralph yet. I don’t think brothers and sisters get that about one another; that they are often each other’s role model.
A few people thought I should have had a moment in the book where Tracy finally apologizes to Lester for calling him Pig Face. But that never felt authentic to me. In real life, kids don’t always apologize to one another (unless a parent or teacher is involved). I wanted her actions to show that by working with Lester, she has come to realize that not only has her brother become her friend, he’s also the most important person to her, even more important than Ralph. No matter what, she will always be able to count on Lester. That’s a huge discovery.
I used to be a pantser, but now I do an initial plot and an outline and do a lot of pre-work on my characters and setting.Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity.
I always write my synopsis first and send it to my agent for feedback (saves me so much time later). I always write the last scene first. I know it’s going to change by the time I get to the end –at least somewhat— but I need to know where I’m going emotionally to frame the rest of the book from the start. Of course, once I start writing new characters show up, while others turn out to be bland and won’t make it through the revision phase! And every book is different. I’m writing my third book right now and there’s so much research required, not just imagination, that I’m forced to be even more disciplined!
I know some authors don’t read while they’re writing for fear of mimicking what they’re reading, but that’s not me. When I want inspiration I often turn to master storytellers – Neil Gaiman, Nicola Yoon, Charles Dickens. Reading nonfiction or going to art galleries also fires my imagination. I used to paint, and I think I might start again; it calls on another side of your creativity! Being out in nature or meditating also seems to get things going.My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
I LOVE that you call books your hiding spot! I feel the exact same way! Whenever I am feeling badly, reading anything by L.M. Montgomery (especially Anne of Green Gables) is like slipping into a cocoon. You know you will be safe, you know you will be inspired, and you know these characters so well that they’ve become part of your family. I always feel welcomed back and embraced by them and really, isn’t that what we most want from the characters in our books?What can readers look forward to next?
My second book, a MG contemporary fantasy set in an art gallery, is being published by Greenwillow Books next year. I can’t wait for readers to meet these characters!
More About the Book
Eleven-year-old Tracy Munroe and her family have just gotten back from their family vacation—why did no one realize that her little brother, Lester, a.k.a. Pig Face, was allergic to sand, salt air, and the ocean before they decided to go to the beach?—and now she has three big goals to accomplish before she goes back to school:
Figure out a fantastic end of summer adventure with her best friend, Ralph, budding Michelin-star chef. (And no, Ralph, perfecting a soufflé does not count.)
Make sure Pig Face does not tag along.
Get the gorgeous new boy next door, Zach, to know she even exists.
But when Tracy and Ralph discover an envelope stuffed with money in the dugout at the baseball field (and Lester forces them to let him tag along), they have a mystery on their hands. Did someone lose the cash? Or, did someone steal it? St. Stephen has always seemed like a quiet place to live, but soon the town is brimming with suspects.
Now they’re on a hunt to discover the truth, before the trio is accused of the crime themselves.
McLeod MacKnight’s debut middle grade novel is a funny, charming window into small-town life, with a focus on the importance of friendship and family and the struggle to figure out where you fit in, perfect for fans of Polly Horvath and Sarah Weeks.
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