I'm so thrilled to welcome today's guest. I have tried and tested their book and OMG IT'S BRILLIANT AND HILARIO AND FUN AND YOU SHOULD ALL READ IT OR BUY IT FOR A MIDDLE GRADER IN YOUR LIFE!
Here we go...
ARIANNE COSTNER is a former English teacher who firmly believes that writers should crack up at their own jokes. Born and raised in Mesa, Arizona, she currently lives outside of Los Angeles, California with her husband and three children. Her favorite kind of potato is the tater tot, with mashed potatoes coming in close second--as long as they're not gluey.
FOLLOW ARIANNE HERE!
Ben Hardy believes he's cursed by potatoes. And now he's moved to Idaho, where the school's mascot is Steve the Spud! Yeah, this cannot be good.
After accidentally causing the mascot to sprain an ankle, Ben is sentenced to Spud duty for the final basketball games of the year. But if the other kids know he's the Spud, his plans for popularity are likely to be a big dud! Ben doesn't want to let the team down, so he lies to his friends to keep it a secret. No one will know it's him under the potato suit . . . right?
Life as a potato is all about not getting mashed! With laugh-out-loud illustrations throughout, hand to fans of James Patterson, Gordan Korman, Jeff Kinney, and Chris Grabenstein!
"A grade A, spudtastic (not to mention FUNNY) debut. Arianne Costner sure knows middle school and middle schoolers!" --Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Who are you and what do you write?
Hi! I'm Arianne and I write middle grade fiction! I started out wanting to write young YA. In fact, Ben, the protagonist in MY LIFE AS A POTATO was originally a 9th grader. Unfortunately, this age category is hard to shelf (especially so during the years I was querying), so I followed some advice to turn it into a middle grade novel. My voice was already pretty middle-grade-esque, so I just needed to take out some romance, ramp up some tweeny awkwardness, cut the high-school milieu (I learned that word in a rejection letter ), and voila! a middle grade. The good news is that I LOVE middle grade--the fun innocence, the hopefulness, the shenanigans. The book had themes of what it means to be cool and finding true friendship that jived well with a seventh grade setting. I hope to write middle grade for a while, and also write some young-YA books in the future.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I've always loved writing essays for English class (nerd alert!), but I didn't get into fiction writing until college. I loved my creative writing elective so much, I took it twice! We focused on poetry and short fiction, so I didn't even attempt a longer novel until I was 22 years old. The thought was always too intimidating for me. But ideas started creeping into my head and I decided to go for it. After a few starts on books that I never finished, I thought up the idea for MY LIFE AS A POTATO and fell so in love with the story that I was determined to make it work. I drafted the whole thing feverishly in two months. It took much longer to revise, of course.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
Sure! I drafted the novel between November and December of 2016. I spent the first half of 2017 querying and racking up lots of rejections. In August, I got into Pitch Wars. My mentor, Shari Schwarz, was amazing! She really helped me learn more about getting to KNOW my main character and his misbeliefs and desires. I only got a couple pitch wars requests in the agent showcase in November, so I kept querying until I landed my dream agent--Amber Caraveo of Skylark Literary--around the end of April 2018. We spent a couple of months revising and went on sub around the end of June. In July, I got some offers from major publishing houses, which was a dream, especially after so much rejection during the querying phase! Chelsea Eberly at Random House Children's Books took on the book. She is now an agent at Greenhouse Literary and she's fantastic.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
The hardest by far is trying to balance writing with everyday duties being a mom. I have three kids ages three and under (yeah, really), so... time is quite limited. The most enjoyable has been Skyping classes who have read the book. It's my favorite aspect of "marketing" (if you can call it that.) I love connecting with students!
Would you go back and change anything?
I would spend less time on social media and more time writing! Haha. Shouldn't we all. That said, I have made some great friends on Twitter and Instagram and my Facebook debut groups and Pitch Wars groups. I'm just trying to find the balance of it all.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Study your craft! Get good critique partners. ENJOY writing. It's supposed to be fun. Most of the time, anyway. When you're not bleeding at the keyboard, or whatever it was Hemingway said.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Mayo but the legit kind, no Miracle Whip
Night or Day? - Night
Inside or Outside? - Inside. I'm a homebody.
Dogs or Cats? - Dogs
Twitter or Facebook? - Oof... I'll go with Facebook because I like baby photos
Ebook or Paperback? - Paperback, but I need more shelf space!
Sun or Rain? - Sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Keyboard
Comedy or Drama? - Comedy always
Chips or Chocolate? - Usually chocolate
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