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Next Big Thing: Blog Tour (The Quirks!)

Last week, I was tagged by my brilliant illustrator, Kelly Light, to take part in the Next Big Thing, a global blog tour about children’s books—so here I am, answering some questions about my next book: THE QUIRKS: Welcome to Normal (out June 4, 2013). I wrote this book as Erin Soderberg, since it's so different from my tween and teen books (for more info about my books for younger readers, including THE QUIRKS, head over here).

Quirks cover

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I love writing about lovable and silly families…but in my teen and tween novels, I often write about dysfunctional families who don’t get along very well. So I wanted to write a book about a family that loves and supports one another, people who are there for each other no matter what. The Quirks (who were originally called the Martins!) hatched from there. Every one of the Quirks (except Molly) has a special, magical powersomething that makes them very unique. These "Quirks" make it difficult for the family to fit in with the rest of the world, so they're extra close to and supportive of one another. (Fun fact: I actually created the book's characters and their personalities first, and came up with their "Quirks" second...so that their magic would match their personality!)

What genre does your book fall under?

The Quirks is a middle-grade chapter book—perfect for kids who love books like Junie B., Judy Moody, Stink, Ivy & Bean, and other fun early chapter books, but are ready for the next step. The Quirks books are a little longer and more complicated than early chapter booksbut the themes are not difficult or scary (ideal for 8-10 year olds who aren’t yet ready for older middle-grade titles)!

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The thing I most love about the Quirk family is their uniqueness—in the way they look, and the way they act. (Their differences are what make them so special!) I can’t think of any actors who would be perfect for nine-year-old twins Molly and Penelope, but their five-year-old brother, Finn, reminds me a lot of my own son (who also has crazy blond hair and chocolate-colored eyes). I sometimes picture Finn as a younger, chubbier-cheeked Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I’m stealing this one-liner from The Quirks’ illustrator, Kelly Light: The Quirks is a funny, heartwarming story about a family of outsiders who are trying to find a place to call home…with a touch of silly, quirky magic.

Who is publishing your book?


How long did it take you to write the first draft of the book?

The first book in the series took more than three years to finish, which is a long time considering the length of the finished book. I rewrote the second half of the book three times, and had about seven false starts on the story! I just finished the second book in the series, and the first draft of that one (The Quirks in Circus Quirkus) only took me about three months—of course, there was a lot of revision after that!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

These books are ultimately about family, and about fitting in. The themes are classic middle-grade—figuring out what makes you special and unique, and finding a place where you fit in with your family and the world…but the themes are, of course, amped up because of the Quirks’ special powers.

There’s sweetness and friendship in the book that reminds me a tiny bit of Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows. Some of the chapters are a bit episodic—and Finn gets in quite a lot of trouble!—like Ramona. And there’s a lot of reality and family drama, like in Judy Blume’s Fudge books. But I like to think the series is something new that will fill a need for second, third, and fourth graders who are looking for slightly longer stories with sweeter themes and a lot of humor (no death or scary stuff!).

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been writing young adult and tween novels for a while, but I really wanted to write something my own kids would enjoy. I wrote a story that I hoped they would adore—and they do! They’re my best brainstorming partners, and the perfect first readers for these books. It’s great to have my target audience sitting at the dinner table with me!

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Quirk family has a pet monster—who is afraid of everything. He takes on a much larger role in the second book (due out in February 2014), since he’s just so cute.

Now I’ll tag a couple of my favorite authors (and friends) who have books coming out soon—check their blogs next week for their answers!:

Jennifer Echols: One of my favorite young adult romance authors, who also just released her first adult novel. She has two new books releasing in the next couple of months!

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Stephen Shaskan: A picture book author and illustrator whose new book, The Three Triceratops Tuff, came out this week!