So, today I’m talking about the Next Big Thing blog campaign. This campaign began in Australia and went international, showcasing new authors and/or new books for kids through teens. Each author answers the same set of questions about a recently published books and/or those that are slated to be released. Then that author “tags” a few other authors who do the same thing. Because my work-in-progress isn’t ready for prime time, I’ll be talking about my most recent work. I’m tagging two of my favorite fellow kids’ book authors, Anna-Maria Crum and Pam Mingle.

What is the working title of your next book?
Since I don’t have a next book coming out, I’m going to talk about Rock On, a book that was released in hardcover last year and paperback this year.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had been trying to figure out a way to write about my love of rock music and I also wanted to write about brothers as I watched my three sisters and various friends deal with their sons (I have a son and two daughters). There’s an interesting dynamic –fighting, shoving, etc but also a lot of love and loyalty between them, which is expressed in different ways. I wanted to capture that dynamic. And even though I can’t sing or play an instrument (does the kazoo count?), I wanted to write from the point of view of a high school guitarist who is also a singer-songwriter; at the very least I knew I could relate to the creative process. The rest came from observing the musicians around me.

What genre does your book fall under?
Realistic contemporary teen fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, what fun! If only…I can’t remember names so I had to cheat and go to a couple of “young actor” websites to figure it out.

Ori: Luke Benward
Del: Liam Hemsworth
Jane/Halyn: Katija Pevec
Nick: undecided
Gwyn: Preferably a deaf actress, but not sure who

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
High school sophomore Ori Taylor, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter in a nameless rock band, has always been known as the easily-overlooked younger brother of Del, a high school sports star. When Del suddenly returns home from college just as Ori is starting to gain some confidence in himself, Del expects everything to return to the way it used to be.

Who is publishing your book?
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 18 months! And then I realized I had two books in one and had to start over. The second first draft took 11 months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Books by Joan Bauer, Jordan Sonnenblick, and others who mix humor and pathos. And of course, it’s similar to my other books, Click Here, Access Denied, and Fact of Life #31 in terms of that balance of humor and pathos.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Growing up around music. My dad and brother both played the guitar and sang, as did my grandfather. Check it out here.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
The book has blog pages that include comments from visitors (you can visit the blog too!). I also wrote lyrics to “Waiting for You,” (which Ori sings in the first chapter) and found talented musicians to turn it into a song. It’s available on iTunes so check it out!

Next up on The Next Big Thing, a week from today, I’ve tagged these two fabulous authors (who are also in my critique group and helped me get Rock On in good shape):


Snake Talker by Anna-Maria Crum