Today we’re celebrating the publication of Laura Golden‘s Depression-era middle-grade novel, Every Day After, which debuts tomorrow, June 11, from Delacorte Press. As per our tradition here at Corsets, Cutlasses, and Candlesticks, when one of our own members releases a book into the world, each of us asks that author a question about the novel.
First, the Every Day After synopsis:
Trouble has rained down on Lizzie Hawkins. Her daddy has deserted the family, her mama is silent with sadness, and the bank is after their house.
Daddy always said Lizzie was born to succeed, but right now she can’t even hold on to her top grades or her best friend, Ben. Bratty newcomer Erin Sawyer has weaseled both away from Lizzie, but Erin won’t be satisfied until Lizzie is out of her hair for good, packed off straight to the nearest orphanage.
Still, Lizzie refuses to lose what’s left of her family. With the bank deadline fast approaching, Erin causing strife at every turn, and Mama and Ben slipping away from her, Lizzie finds comfort writing in her journal and looking at Daddy’s face in the heirloom locket he left her. She’s keeping her head high and holding onto hope that Daddy returns on her twelfth birthday. Still, she can’t help wondering: Why did Daddy have to leave? And can I save us if he doesn’t come home?
Times may be tough in Bittersweet, Alabama, but the unsinkable Lizzie Hawkins will inspire readers with her resilience and determination.
And now, our interview with Laura Golden…
From Jennifer McGowan: What was the biggest challenge in writing EVERY DAY AFTER?
Finishing the first draft. Honestly. I enjoyed researching the time period and mulling over the story itself. The hardest part was forcing myself to keep plugging away at that first draft each day until it was done. Once I had that draft, things got much easier. I had a road map, and all I had to do was choose which paths I wanted to explore during revisions. I love revising, hate drafting, and I can tell you that is still true with Book 2.
From J. Anderson Coats: If you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?
In EVERY DAY AFTER, a married couple—Mr. and Mrs. Hinkle—owns the local general store. He is patient and kind while she is a mean-spirited old bat. Toward the end of the book, there is a scene in which Mr. Hinkle finally puts Mrs. Hinkle in her place. That is the scene I’d most want to witness first hand. Nothing beats seeing hateful people get their just desserts. (Should I be saying this in public?)
From Sharon Biggs Waller: The Great Depression was such a grim time in our history. How did you balance the details of that time in your story while still remaining hopeful?
I think that era held an inherent hope. It wasn’t something I had to add or make sure I had included. I tend to believe that had the people who lived during the Great Depression not held fast to at least a sliver of hope, most would’ve given up on making it. When times are good, folks don’t give much thought to hope. It’s when the going gets tough that we humans really start to yearn for it. At least that’s the way I am…
From Katherine Longshore: What was it about the 1930s that drew you to that era in particular? And what is one thing you think we as modern readers can learn from it?
I’ve always had a mild obsession with the 1930s. The bleakness, the starkness, the widespread poverty and homelessness all fascinate me. Perhaps I should clarify that it isn’t those things in and of themselves that interest me, it’s how people of the day reacted to them. Folks tended to help one another as best they could, even perfect strangers. They didn’t whine and bellyache about what they didn’t have, they simply made do with what they did have. And, I would say that both those present an excellent take-away for us modern readers: be kind to your fellow man, and appreciate what you have.
From Cat Winters: What are the pros and cons of writing fiction for a middle-grade audience?
Hmmm…this is a bit of a toughie, only because I can’t immediately think of any cons. But I’ll give it a go!
1.I get to speak with my inner-child on a daily basis. I still relate strongly to the emotions and experiences of middle graders. Middle grade was a distinct and somewhat painful part of my childhood. Writing for modern middle graders is a rather cathartic process for me, a process through which I am able to ask hard questions and heal old wounds.
2. It is amazing to think that somewhere a kid is going to read Lizzie’s story and will hopefully connect with Lizzie on some level. Maybe he or she is a latchkey kid and feels pressure to be responsible and grown-up. Maybe he or she is experiencing a bullying relationship with a peer. Maybe he or she has gone through the pain of living without an absentee parent. Who knows? But it is humbling to ponder, and I feel lucky, and rather overwhelmed, that I have an opportunity to speak to those kids through my book.
3. I love talking to the teachers and librarians who care deeply about these kids. I have been absolutely blown away by the deep interest these talented professionals invest into the lives of children. They care, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to get to know each and every one of them on a more personal level. It has been a wonderful experience. And an inspiring one as well.
1.The one con I can think of (and this is scraping the bottom of the barrel) is that your work often isn’t taken seriously by the outside world. It’s typically considered simple or shallow, and that just isn’t the case. I’ve read interviews where children’s book authors make sure to insert a sort of disclaimer that they will likely pen a novel for adults some day. And I get it. Some authors like to write in a range of genres, and that is commendable. But I can’t help but wonder if some are buckling under the pressure of wanting to be viewed as “real” writers by the adult world at large. Children’s book authors—from picture book to young adult—are “real” writers. But until we believe it ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to?
From Jessica Spotswood: It sounds like even during the Depression, there were mean girls. So many of us have had to deal with that at Lizzie’s age! What was interesting about exploring that kind of relationship?
It was interesting to explore the “whys” of mean girls. For me as a middle-schooler, issues were rather black or white. Kids were mean or nice, and I didn’t give much thought as to why a kid might be bullying or acting out. But writing a bully in Erin Sawyer gave me the perfect opportunity to search for a deeper meaning, a gray area. As I revised, it was interesting for me to realize that just as Lizzie views Erin as the bully, there are times when Erin sees Lizzie as the aggressor simply because Lizzie won’t back down. They are each defensive of their own situation and point of view. As they say, there are two sides to every story. I knew plenty of mean kids when I was young, but I hope I’ve managed to create a somewhat sympathetic meanie in Erin Sawyer. She isn’t mean for the sake of being mean. She has her reasons.
The Every Day After book trailer:
Visit Laura Golden online at authorlauragolden.com.