A special treat today: A COVER REVEAL Hart & Souls, written by my friend and fellow Mixed-Up Files contributor, Lisa Schmid! Out 7/23/24!
Now, before we reveal the cover…
Hart & Souls: A summary
After getting bullied at Figueroa Elementary, Stix Hart wants nothing more than to be invisible as he starts middle school. He’s heard all the horror stories, but none involved ghosts.
On Stix’s first day of sixth grade, his anxiety is off the charts. It doesn’t help when he encounters an older kid who reminds him of his old nemesis, Xander Mack. Soon after, he encounters two other students who take a keen interest in him. He quickly learns the spooky truth—the trio are ghosts in need of a solid. They are stuck in middle school and cannot move on until they resolve their unfinished business. It’s up to Stix to figure out how to help these not-so-normal new friends. To succeed, he must use his unique abilities: drumming talent, a big heart, and anxiety to sort out this paranormal predicament.
(Isn’t it a beauty?)
Interview with Lisa Schmid
MR: Congrats on the upcoming publication of your spooky MG, Hart & Souls (7/23/24)! I’m honored to host your cover reveal—especially on Friday the 13th 🙂
LS: Thank you so much! I am giddy to share my new cover with the world. I’m especially delighted that you signed up for hosting duties. I feel like we’ve been on this author’s journey together and have so much in common—one might even say we are soul sisters.
MR: Ooh, I LOVE that! Now, tell me: What was the inspiration behind Hart & Souls?
LS: The idea for Hart & Souls came to me after encountering the local “school bully” at Target. He was on the phone at the front of the store, frightened and crying. After eavesdropping, I learned no one had picked him up from school, and he didn’t know where else to go. It was heartbreaking. I kept an eye on him until his dad arrived, but it got me thinking. An important lesson I’ve always taught my son is that when somebody is unkind, it usually means they’re fighting a battle we know nothing about.
At that moment, I knew I had my next book. By the time I finished shopping, the title HART & SOULS was swirling around my brain. While sitting in the parking lot, I figured out how the story would begin and end. I’ve never veered off course—I knew I had something special. I actually recreated the Target scene in my book through the eyes of Stix. It still makes me tear up when I read the chapter.
MR: How long did it take you to write the novel, Lisa?
LS: It took me about a year and a half to write. I am a card-carrying Pantser, so I work out the details as I go. Unfortunately, I always get stuck when I reach the “mushy” middle. Sometimes, I need to let things percolate before moving forward. I hit a couple of bumps in the road, but in the end, much like my lost souls, I found my way home.
About the Artist
MR: Since this is a cover reveal (!!!), I’d love to know more about your gorgeous cover—and about the artist, Carolina Vázquez.
LS: I am so in love with this cover! Carolina totally captured the heart and soul of this story. The expression on Stix’s face makes me giggle—it personifies his state of mind to a tee. And the three ghosts are just as I had imagined them to be. I want to hug each one and let them know everything will be all right.
I am also obsessed with the details that make it so extraordinary. Little nuances like the talent show flier on a backpack, and my favorite: the ghost’s individual auras reflecting off Stix. It makes my heart sing!
HART & SOULS is Carolina’s debut middle grade cover, and I think she knocked it out of the park.
Fun fact: her debut picture book cover, TANGO RED RIDING HOOD, was written by a local author, Rachel S. Hobbs. I recently connected the dots and will attend Rachel’s book signing next week.
What a small world—A fabulous illustrator from Argentina ends up working with a pair of California girls on her first two books.
I can hardly wait to take a picture of us together and share it with Carolina.
MR: What was the process like in choosing the cover? I know it’s different for every writer, and every artist.
LS: I am so lucky that my AMAZING agent, Leslie Zampetti, found the perfect home for my little ghost story. Andrews McMeel Kids is a fantastic publisher that encourages a collaborative experience. My wonderful editor, Hannah Dussold, and I threw out a couple of ideas for Carolina, and she came back with this gorgeous cover.
There were, of course, minor tweaks and changes, but overall, Carolina nailed it. I am so grateful for her patience and creativity. And the good news . . . she’s creating thirty interior illustrations, so you will be seeing a lot more of her art!
MR: Congrats again, Lisa, on Hart & Souls. I can’t wait to read it. And I encourage Mixed-Up Files readers to pre-order it!
LS: Thanks so much. And thank you to everybody for pre-ordering my book. I truly hope you enjoy my ghost story. I loved writing it for you.
Lisa Schmid is an author and co-host of the podcast Writers With Wrinkles. When she’s not scaring up ghostly adventures, she’s most likely visiting schools to talk about writing and books. She lives in Northern California with her husband, son, two dogs, and one very sneaky hamster. Learn more about Lisa on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Carolina Vázquez was born in 2000 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was endlessly inspired by books and animation from an early age and started taking drawing classes when she was thirteen. She graduated from Palermo University with a degree in Illustration Design in 2021. Since then, she has been working on children’s illustration projects such as picture books, magazines and board games. Learn more about Carolina on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.