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Sunday, March 18, 2018

An Interview with Elana K. Arnold, author of Bat and the Waiting Game

Like many readers, I fell in love with a boy named Bat and his furry friend Thor in Elana K. Arnold's middle grade novel A Boy Called Bat. Today, Elana visits The Hiding Spot to talk about her return to Bat and Thor's story in Bat and the Waiting Game!

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What was the inspiration for this second book about Bat and his pet baby skunk, Thor, in which Bat struggles with a change to his routine and separation from Thor? 
I was thrilled to continue Bat and Thor’s story. I love Bat so, so much. Like Bat, I’m very much a fan of routine and staying home with my animal friends. And, like Bat, I’m a sibling. I remember the challenges of having to suppress my preferences and needs because of the preferences and needs of my family members, and I wanted to poke at these places in myself and experience how Bat would feel and react when he’s challenged to move further outside his comfort zone. And, as a fan of Charles Santoso’s work, it’s been amazing to see more illustrations of Bat and his world. 
Are more stories about Bat and Thor planned?  
Yes! I am thrilled to share that I’ve just handed in edits for the third BAT book, Bat and the End of Everything. It will be out in March of 2019. 
In addition to your Bat books for young readers, you have written multiple young adult books. Does your writing process change depending on the audience for which you are writing? 
When I am working on a first draft of any project, I don’t think about audience at all. I tell myself, “It’s none of my business who reads my book.” My business is to tell the character’s authentic story the best way I know how. So, in that regard, my process is identical whether I’m writing a picture book, a novel for younger readers like my BAT books, or a young adult novel. But I do see my time with Bat as a respite from the more fraught work I do in my young adult novels. These past few years, I’ve been working on Bat’s story while concurrently writing some of my most personally challenging young adult titles, and I like to think of each as a palate cleanser for the other; the challenges the BAT books present are different from the challenges of my young adult work, and working on them side by side has allowed me to return with fresh eyes over and over again. 
Recommend one of your favorite new or old titles for fans of your Bat books! 
I love Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books. They focus intently on the very real, everyday problems of childhood without condescending. Fans of Bat may also love (as I do) Linda Urban’s Weekends With Max and His Dad and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick’s Two Naomis. (Bonus: both books have sequels!) If they’re fantasy lovers, readers should also pick up Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy. Graphic novel enthusiasts will love Sally J. Pla’s Stanley Will Probably Be Fine, illustrated by Steve Wolfhard. And, if your reader wants another book with a fantastic teacher, direct them toward John David Anderson’s Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. 

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About the Book
Pub Date: March 27, 2018
 The second book in the irresistible and “quietly groundbreaking”* young middle grade series starring Bat, an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum. For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life is pretty great. He’s the caretaker of the best baby skunk in the world—even Janie, his older sister, is warming up to Thor. When Janie gets a part in the school play and can’t watch Bat after school, it means some pretty big changes. Someone else has to take care of the skunk kit in the afternoons. Janie is having sleepovers with her new friends. Bat just wants everything to go back to normal. He just has to make it to the night of Janie’s performance… 

About Elana K. Arnold 
Elana K. Arnold grew up in California, where she, like Bat, was lucky enough to have her own perfect pet — a gorgeous mare named Rainbow — and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, and books for teens, including the National Book Award finalist title What Girls Are Made Of. Elana lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She calls the “Bat” series for Walden Pond Press “books of her heart.” You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com.

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