Interview with Shannon Hitchcock + Giveaway

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome middle-grade author, Shannon Hitchcock, to the Mixed-Up Files to talk about her latest novel, ONE TRUE WAY, which hits bookstores tomorrow, February 27, 2018. But first, here’s a little bit about Shannon and her fabulous novel.

The ALAN Review hailed Shannon Hitchcock as, “A New Voice in Historical Fiction.” She’s the author of the Crystal Kite award-winning novel, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, and a second novel, RUBY LEE & ME, a nominee for the 2017-18 Nebraska Chapter Book Golden Sower Award, Pennsylvania’s Keystone Award, an Iowa Children’s Choice Award, and Japan’s Sakura Medal. ONE TRUE WAY, which received a starred review from KIRKUS REVIEWS, is her third novel.

 

Welcome to Daniel Boone Middle School in the 1970s, where teachers and coaches must hide who they are, and girls who like girls are forced to question their own choices. Presented in the voice of a premier storyteller, ONE TRUE WAY sheds exquisite light on what it means to be different, while at the same time being wholly true to oneself. Through the lives and influences of two girls, readers come to see that love is love is love. Set against the backdrop of history and politics that surrounded gay rights in the 1970s South, this novel is a thoughtful, eye-opening look at tolerance, acceptance, and change, and will widen the hearts of all readers.

 

ONE TRUE WAY is about two middle-school girls growing up in the seventies who develop feelings for each other. You mention in the Author’s Note about how you got the idea. Why was it so important to you to write this particular novel?

I grew up in a conservative church that taught homosexuality is a sin. I had never really questioned those teachings until a person I love came out to me. I wrote ONE TRUE WAY to make sense of it all.

All three of your published novels are historical. What is it about that genre that appeals to you?

I grew up on a hundred-acre farm in a family of storytellers. I loved hearing my grandparents and uncles talk about the times before I was born. All of my favorite books were historical too. I loved Little House on the Prairie, Heidi, Caddie Woodlawn, and the biographies of women like Annie Oakley, Nancy Todd Lincoln, Lucretia Mott, and Betsy Ross. I have a theory that the type of books you loved as a child are probably the kind you’d enjoy writing as an adult.

The characters in ONE TRUE WAY are so richly developed. Are any of them based on people you’ve known?

Probably the best example is Reverend Walker. She’s based on my real-life minister, Vicki Walker, who helped with the theological aspects of my book.

I love the period details in the book. Can you tell us about some of the research you had to do?

I started with my yearbook from 1977. I looked at our hairstyles and clothes. I googled songs from 1976 and 77 to fact check my memories. I watched a lot of YouTube clips of Anita Bryant and her Save Our Children campaign. Probably the most important research was reading every LGBTQ themed YA book I could get my hands on. I made note of what content would be appropriate and inappropriate for a MG audience.

In the book, you do a wonderful job with a few characters who have to reconcile their religious teachings with the notion of homosexuality. Can you tell us how you came to formulating those ideas presented?

Three books were invaluable to me: Defrocked: How A Father’s Act of Love Shook the United Methodist Church by Franklyn Schaefer, Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South by Connie Griffin, and When Christians Get It Wrong by Adam Hamilton. Once I had formulated my own opinions, I discussed my beliefs with the Reverend Vicki Walker. I knew I was on to something when she said, “You have no idea how many parents have sat where you are, struggling to accept their gay children, and how many children have sat in the same seat, afraid of disappointing their parents.” If ONE TRUE WAY can help those families in any way, I will consider it a success.

For those who would like to read more middle-grade LGBTQ-themed books, do you have any recommendations?

I’ve actually compiled a list which is on my website here.

For more about Shannon and her work, visit her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks, Shannon! And thanks for offering a free signed copy of your book to a lucky winner (U.S. and Canada only). To be eligible to win, leave a comment below. I’ll pick a winner at random Wednesday night at 9 p.m. and announce who won on Thursday.

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Dorian Cirrone
Dorian Cirrone's most recent middle-grade novel is the award-winning,THE FIRST LAST DAY. She has published several books for children and teens and is the Co-Regional Advisor of SCBWI-Florida. Visit her at www.doriancirrone.com
7 Comments
  1. Fascinating interview. Shannon is such a gift to the middle-grade community. Thanks for this post. I love the book. Please let someone else win. I have a copy.

  2. Sounds like a great book and much needed today with all that’s
    going on to try to reverse the progress we’ve made. Congratulations on your great success!

  3. “Tolerance, acceptance, and change” – so needed these days. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Congrats, Shannon!

  5. Fantastic interview, and the book sounds so necessary, I can’t wait to see how Shannon and her characters take us through it.

  6. This book is wonderful! I think many kids will benefit from knowing there is uncertainty in many of our actions and decisions~ we just have to be able to like who we are. Loved One True Way!

  7. Thanks for hosting me!