I am delighted to welcome my next author guest to the blog today to chat about their gorgeous middle grade novel.
Check it out...
Clare O’Connor writes for young readers. Her first middle grade novel, Skateboard Sibby, was published in 2019. It features eleven-year-old Sibby Henry, a super skateboarder with a never quit, never give in attitude. When not writing, Clare loves spending time with her family, which consists of her partner, daughter, two cats, and their one remaining house plant, Elvira.
Eleven-year-old Sibby Henry liked her old life. Now she’s living in a new town with her nan and pops, and is mad at her dad for messing everything up. On her first day of school, she sees a dope skateboard park. But she can’t use it because her prized skateboard is gone forever. To make things worse, Freddie, a super skater and a super jerk, dominates the park. Sibby tries to stay cool, but when Freddie gets in the face of Sibby’s friend Charlie Parker Drysdale, things get too hot for chill. Never one to back down, Sibby accepts when Freddie challenges her to a skateboarding competition. But, without a board and with an unfamiliar feeling of a loss in self-confidence, Sibby’s not sure how she will pull it off or if she can.
Skateboard Sibby is a story about change and the power of resilience and perseverance. It’s about losing yourself and finding your way back.
Read some reviews here!
Skateboard Canada Magazine
Quill and Quire
Grab your copy here!
Who are you and what do you write?
Thanks so much for the opportunity to be include in your blog, Kate. I’m Clare O’Connor and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada with my family. I write picture books and middle grade novels. My favorite stories are ones that make me think differently about something or someone and they end on a “hopefully ever after” note. No matter what I’m writing, I always try to infuse these ingredients into my stories.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I’ve always known I wanted to write. My early audiences were my parents, sister, dogs, (Yogi, Princess and Piper). My parents and sister were pretty encouraging, but the best reviews came from Piper, our always smiling Pomeranian. He was a true believer! Fast forward a whole lot of years and careers into 2013. I knew I had to make a change and focus on writing professionally. Since then, I've attended conferences and taken lots of workshops, been part of a writing group, and become more active in seeking out others in the writing community online. I've also been busy writing and revising and revising some more.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
It’s been totally different than I imagined. I was always so focused on getting published that I didn’t consider the broader environment. I’ve met so many people who have been encouraging, kind, and incredibly helpful. It’s opened up a whole world I hadn’t even considered existed. I don’t mean to sound cheezie, but I’ve also discovered that writing is less outward focused than I ever thought it would be. It’s made me take a deeper look at who I want to be in this world and what I’m willing to do to make that happen. I didn’t expect that, but I’m grateful for it and for those I’ve met. Writing can be isolating, and rejection is inescapable, but there’s so much that’s positive too.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
The hardest part is the waiting and what I call “self-doubt creep.” There is a lot that goes into the decisions made by publishing houses and I completely get why things take so long. It’s just that the Type A part of my personality needs to learn and relearn patience. I also need to keep the negative thinking away. Waiting sometimes opens the door to self-doubt and imposter syndrome. But, the people I’ve connected with, including you, Kate, always have a comment/advice to offer on Twitter or in another forum that really helps.
The most enjoyable part of the experience has been bookstore signings and school visits. I’ve had the pleasure of talking with so many kids who are interested in writing and who have had questions about my book. Letters and emails I’ve received have a special place in my writing space. A couple have been framed. They would make Piper smile extra wide.
Would you go back and change anything?
Hmmm…. I’d like to think that I would have started writing more seriously sooner, but I’m not sure I was ready. So, I guess I have to say no to this.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
In five years, I’d like to have at least three picture books published (two are currently with publishers and I’m waiting for a response). My goal is to have the middle grade novel I’m currently working on published as well as another one I plan to write after I finish the current work-in-progress. In my ideal scenario, I’d also like to have an agent that I love working with and respect to the moon and back. Ultimately, I would be doing Skype or Zoom presentations with schools and connecting with readers and their teachers directly. This is a lot, but I’m ready for it. In ten years and forward, I'll continue to be attending conferences and taking workshops and learning as I go. I'll also be busy writing and being so pleased that I didn't give up. Ultimately, I will have added to the growing body of children's literature that includes non-traditional families.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
The piece of advice that has stayed with me is the one that says find your story. I don’t think you can go wrong when you write about something that truly comes from within and that wants to come out. Have faith in that story, and in yourself is my advice.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Ketchup. No hesitation.
Night or Day? - Formerly night but my preschooler is an early riser, so I am now on team day.
Inside or Outside? - Outside
Dogs or Cats? - Love them both. We have two cats, but I love dogs too.
Twitter or Facebook? - Ever so slight lean toward Twitter
e-book or Paperback? - Paperback
Sun or Rain? - Definitely sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Keyboard
Comedy or Drama? - It depends on my mood but, lately, comedy.
Chips or Chocolate? - Chips. Chips. More chips.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!