Today I'm interviewing another author I met last September at Salt Lake Comic Con. Go Teen Writers, meet Peggy Eddleman.
Peggy Eddleman writes adventure books for middle grade readers. Her debut novel, Sky Jumpers released from Random House Children's Books on September 24, 2013, with The Forbidden Flats following a year later. Besides writing, Peggy enjoys playing laser tag with her husband and their three kids, doing cartwheels in long hallways, trying new restaurants, and occasionally painting murals on walls. You can find her online at peggyeddleman.com. (I love Peggy's website, by the way. If you write for children, check out her website. It's great.)
Welcome to Go Teen Writers, Peggy. Tell us about yourself and your Sky Jumpers series.
I love to write action/adventure stories. I’m the mom of three teenagers—a daughter in junior high and two sons in high school—and my oldest and youngest are writers. (Yay teen writers!) Sky Jumpers and it’s sequel, The Forbidden Flats, is a story about a town living inside one of the giant craters left behind by the green bombs of World War III that destroyed most of the earth’s population. The main characters, Hope, Aaren, and Brock, are all twelve-year-olds who have to do some dangerous/exciting/scary things to help save their town when it gets into trouble.
Sounds like a lot of fun. How did you come up with the idea for these books?
The first spark of an idea came when my family and I were flying home from Disney World on a day when the entire country was covered in clouds. I sat in the window seat, and for three and a half hours, staring out at the wrong side of the clouds, thinking, Wouldn’t it be so cool if I could jump out of the plane, and have those clouds slow my fall? It was an idea I couldn’t shake, so I went to work thinking about what kind of a world could have a compressed band of air that covered everything, and would be able to catch you if you jumped into it. And that’s when sky jumping was born. Then, of course, to add more conflict/danger, I made it both deadly and invisible.
I wrote four full-length novels, which will never see the light of day. And I am so okay with that! They were novels I wrote for practice and experience, and many of them contained people I knew as the characters. Three of them I wrote knowing that I would never even try to get them published. But even though they’ll forever stay on my shelf, I’ll always love them for what they did for me—they prepared me to become an author.
I had a similar experience, Peggy. Why did you choose to write for middle grade readers?
I’ve thought about this question a lot, actually. I think it boils down to three things—my kids and I got into a great habit of reading middle grade novels together every night, and I’ve loved it. Writing what I’ve had so much fun reading with my kids just felt natural. Second—those upper elementary school ages are some of my very favorite memories. I had daring, genius brothers just older and just younger than me, and hanging out with them made my childhood feel like one giant adventure. So tapping back into those ages is a very exciting thing for me. And third, I think my writing voice lends itself to writing middle grade. It takes some experimentation, but it’s important to figure out what age group and genre is the right one for you.
That's awesome. I'm glad you found your voice and where it best fits. I love your book trailer. Check it out, guys.
Peggy, what advice would you give teen writers?
To never give up! It’s easy to give up in this business, but you have stories to tell that can only come from you. You have a unique voice, a unique way of looking at the world, and a unique imagination. The world needs those stories that can only come from you. But it’s not a race. Take time to play with your writing. To try new styles and genres. To take risks. To write stories you don’t think you’re good enough to write yet. To experiment with writing different characters and different worlds than you’ve ever tried. The broader range of things you try, the more you’ll be able to figure out how to hone in on what your strengths are and what is truly, uniquely you.
"To take risks." That's wonderful advice. What's next for you? How many book will be in the Sky Jumpers series?
Sky Jumpers is a duology, so it’s two books. I love having one book that is the beginning and one book that’s the end. It just feels so right for this series. I’m working on a book right now about a group of six kids who were genetically altered in ways that meant to give them extra abilities, but really did just the opposite. And they have to save the day, when all the things about them keep getting in the way. It blends a lot of humor with that universal feeling that there are things about us that make things hard, yet you still have to find a way to work around it. I have had more fun writing it than any story I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait until it gets in the hands of readers!
I bet your readers can't wait, either! Here's a little bit more about the first Sky Jumpers book.
Twelve-year-old Hope lives in White Rock, a town struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. The bombs destroyed almost everything that came before, so the skill that matters most in White Rock—sometimes it feels like the only thing that matters—is the ability to invent so that the world can regain some of what it’s lost.
But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb’s Breath—the deadly band of air that covers the crater the town lives in—than fail at yet another invention.
When bandits discover that White Rock has invented priceless antibiotics, they invade. The town must choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from disease in the coming months or to die fighting the bandits now. Hope and her friends, Aaren and Brock, might be the only ones who can escape through the Bomb’s Breath and make the dangerous trek over the snow-covered mountain to get help. Inventing won’t help them, but the daring and risk-taking that usually gets Hope into trouble might just save them all.
Doesn't that sound great? Thanks so much for talking with us today, Peggy!
To thank Peggy for coming, we're giving away a copy of her first Sky Jumpers book. Enter on the Rafflecopter form below. International winners are welcome and will be shipped from The Book Depository.
And feel free to leave questions or comments for Peggy below.