The most exciting thing I learned was that there was a 12-year-old boy involved in the battle. His name was Pascal De Angelis, and he came to the Champlain Valley with his stepfather, who captained one of the ships. The Battle of Valcour Island went on for three days because the Americans escaped from a British blockade and got away for a time before the British caught up and the fighting started again. This boy, Pascal, celebrated his 13th birthday on the lake in the middle of the battle. I knew that was the story I wanted to tell, and I knew that I wanted to connect his story with the story of the missing gunboat, which was identified as the Spitfire.
My book is historical fiction, so it’s a mix of historical fact and fictional characters. There are two narrators - the real historical figure, Pascal, and his fictional friend, a girl named Abigail who joins the fleet disguised as a boy so she can search for her uncle. Researching and writing this book was a joy for me, and seeing kids who live in this region read it and appreciate the history of their lake is just incredible.
When working on a novel, what is your schedule like? How long does it usually take you to finish a full-length book? Do you edit as your write or do you cough up the first draft and leave the polishing for later?
Oh boy... the schedule question. I teach middle school English full time, and I have two kids of my own, so it seems like there’s never enough time in the day. I generally write from 9pm to midnight. I’ll turn in earlier if I’m really tired or later if I’m on a roll, but that’s my usual schedule.
I’m a spill-out-the-first-draft kind of person. I like to have that draft done so I have an idea where I’m going. Once it’s down on paper, I can settle down and revise. I’m much better at revising than actually writing.
Who are your favorite young adult novelists?
I have too many favorite middle grade and YA novelists to count, and I read a huge variety of genres. But I love the work of Laurie Halse Anderson, Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, Ellen Klages, Nancy Werlin, Joseph Bruchac, Cynthia Lord, Sonya Sones, Sarah Dessen, John Green, Lisa Yee, Bruce Covillle, and Lois Lowry, to name a few. I’m always discovering new authors, too, and I love reading a book by a brand new author and introducing it to my 7th graders. Some terrific new voices I’ve discovered in the past year are Linda Urban, Sarah Miller, Melissa Marr, and Carrie Jones.