Hello everyone! Some of you might know that recently, Egmont USA (a publishing house) closed its doors here in the US to focus on its international pursuits. The great people over at Cuddlebuggery decided to organize this blog hop, featuring some of the ‘last list,’ or the last books to be published by Egmont USA during this publishing season, and the authors that wrote them to gain support during this hard time.
I am very excited to participate! The book I’ll be showcasing is Anywhere but Paradise by Anne Bustard! I have a Q&A with her, plus a giveaway of some ARCs for this book.
Summary: Moving from Texas to Hawaii in 1960,12-year-old Peggy Sue faces a difficult transition when she is bulled as one of the few haole (white) students in her school. This lyrical debut novel is perfect for Common Core classroom connections.
It’s 1960 and Peggy Sue has just been transplanted from Texas to Hawaii for her father’s new job. Her cat, Howdy, is stuck in animal quarantine, and she’s baffled by Hawaiian customs and words. Worst of all, eighth grader Kiki Kahana targets Peggy Sue because she is haole–white–warning her that unless she does what Kiki wants, she will be a victim on “kill haoleday,” the last day of school. Peggy Sue’s home ec teacher insists that she help Kiki with her sewing project or risk failing. Life looks bleak until Peggy Sue meets Malina, whose mother gives hula lessons. But when her parents take a trip to Hilo, leaving Peggy Sue at Malina’s, life takes an unexpected twist in the form of a tsunami. Peggy Sue is knocked unconscious and wakes to learn that her parents safety and whereabouts are unknown. Peggy Sue has to summon all her courage to have hope that they will return safely.
Author Bio: Anne Bustard is a beach girl at heart. If she could, she would walk in the sand every day, wear flip-flops, and eat nothing but fresh pineapple, macadamia nuts and chocolate. She is the author of the award-winning picture book Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). Her debut middle grade historical novel Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont Publishing) will be released on March 31, 2015. She lives in Austin, Texas.
Author Links: www.annebustard.com
Book Blurb: “Anne Bustard’s debut novel is a love letter to anyone who has ever felt out of place, homesick, or just plain scared.” Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor Award Winner for The Underneath
Now it’s time for the Q&A with Anne Bustard! I was able to ask her some questions about her book!
- What was your favorite book when you were younger?
Before I answer all of your wonderful questions, Katherine, I’d first like to say a gigantic thank you for inviting me here today! I’m thrilled and honored!
Now, turning to your question about my favorite book—it’s so hard to mention just one! So if I may, I’ll name two. Because in my mind and heart, they go hand-in-hand, The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
I was an avid reader as a young child, but in fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Crowe, who was also the school librarian, read aloud to us every day. She also encouraged us to read as many books as possible. That experience forever changed my reading habits. To this day, I must be immersed in a story. I get twitchy if I’m not. My favorite reads then and now? Middle grade novels.
Thanks to Mrs. Crowe, I discovered the stories about Karana and Sam in the Thornhill Elementary School library. A shy, timid child, I became these characters as I read: a survivor, independent and strong.
- What inspired you to write Anywhere But Paradise?
I am fascinated by change and how we adapt to it.
The biggest changes and challenges in my childhood centered around moving. I was born in Hawaii, moved to California as a toddler, and then back again after fifth grade.
In writing this particular story, I thought a lot about what it is like to be a fish out of water. Having been the new kid at school in a new community multiple times, I was drawn to explore this experience through fiction.
And in doing so, to answer the question, what is home?
- How has the publishing process been for you?
A dream come true! Truly. I began this book in the last century. It was the first novel I attempted to write. Since then I have worked on others, but this one drew me back again and again. With each revision, I received encouragement and support from the Austin writing community as well as the Vermont College of Fine Arts degree program.
A couple of years ago, I revisited and revised it again. Then, thanks to incredible feedback from the Highlight Novel Writing Workshop, I took another fresh look at the story. That draft sold!
I revised anew with the oh-so-wonderful Andrea Cascardi at Egmont Publishing as my guide. She is smart and thoughtful and asked just the right questions. I’m ecstatic that Anywhere but Paradise is my debut!
- Why did you choose to set the book in the 60s and in Hawaii? How much research was involved writing the book?
Super questions! This book is not my personal story, but it was informed by my experience. I took hula lessons. I had a cat, though not one who went through animal quarantine. I attended seventh and eighth grade in a school that had a tradition of bullying on the last day of school.
As a writer of this story, one of my jobs was to make my protagonist, Peggy Sue Bennett, squirm. Big time. So, I set the book in 1960 because of an enormous climatic event—the 1960 Chilean tsunami. It also seemed fitting that Peggy Sue, like the newly minted state of Hawaii (1959 admission), was in transition.
I love research. So I read extensively, as well as contacted experts, family and friends for insights and information. The generosity of everyone was deep and wide! Among other things, I interviewed the amazing principal at my former intermediate school, exchanged a zillion emails with the good folks at Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and received invaluable feedback from a University of Hawaii professor about the pronunciation and definition of Hawaiian words.
- What do you hope people will learn when they read the story?
I would love for readers to respond to the spirit of aloha that Peggy Sue comes to embrace. The word aloha has many meanings including kindness, hello, goodbye and love. I believe that ultimately, Peggy Sue experiences all faucets of the word.
- What is your favorite book?
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is at the tip-top of my list. And yes, it’s a middle grade. The three Gaither sisters are irresistible—heartfelt and hilarious. I cannot wait to read more about them in Gone Crazy in Alabama, coming out this spring.
Mahalo nui loa, Katherine! Thank you very much!
Finally, the giveaway! Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter!
Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting Egmont books! There are plenty of other bloggers who are showcasing all other types of Egmont books today, so I hope you check them out as well.