Posts Tagged Erin Soderberg Downing

Frozen Peaches: Author Interview + Giveaway

Frozen Peaches

Scrolling through Twitter, I saw the cover of Frozen Peaches with the sled dogs and ice castle. I had to read it! I was fortunate enough to get a chance to interview the author, Erin Soderberg Downing. Read on for a chance to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book.

Erin Soderberg Downing — Interview

About the Book

Hi Erin! Thank you for sharing the latest book in The Great Peach Experiment series: Frozen Peaches with me (and such a clever and fitting title!). Congratulations on its recent release. Can you give us a short summary about the book?

Sure! The third Peach adventure opens with Freddy Peach’s announcement that he’s been testing his family’s recent good-luck streak by entering them in a series of sweepstakes, and they’ve actually won a few of them! One prize they win is….a year’s worth of free yogurt! But the other sweepstakes win has earned the Peaches…a free trip to the Icehotel in Sweden, where the Peaches will get to learn about running a tourist hotel from the best of the best! When they arrive, they discover that they are one of several hotel-owning families who have won, and while they’re at the Icehotel they’ll have the chance to compete in a series of competitions (dogsledding, ice carving, sled racing) to try to win the title of FROZEN BEST!


Who would especially enjoy this book?

Any kids (or adults!) who love stories with a lot of action, humor, and fun settings (I love when a book can transport you somewhere wonderful, even from the comfort and warmth of your own bed).


About the Author: Erin Soderberg Downing

Path to Publication

What was your path to becoming an author? Any other interesting jobs you have had?

When I was a kid, I actually didn’t really like writing and never would have imagined I’d write a book (let alone almost 100 of them!) someday. But I was a big reader as a kid, which is what led me to get a job as a children’s book editor at Scholastic when I graduated from college. It was in this job that I learned what makes a great book, and I figured out how much fun it can be to put a story together. After I left that job, I realized I missed creating stories…and that’s when I started writing for fun and with an eye toward publication. I have also worked as a rollerblading waitress, a tour guide on a boat in Duluth, MN, at several coffee shops, as a marketing person at Nickelodeon, and I worked in “snack innovation” for a short time at Pepperidge Farm. I’ve met a lot of interesting characters over the years!


What authors (and/or books) would you say influenced your writing style?

My favorite series growing up were the Ramona series (Beverly Cleary), the Fudge series (Judy Blume), and the Baby-sitter’s Club series (Ann M. Martin). I loved these series for their humor, but also for the powerful connections and relationships between characters in the stories. I have always been a huge fan of series, both as a reader and a writer, because every time you open up a new book in a series it’s like opening the door to a whole house full of friends – you’ve already met, and can get right into the good part of the story!

My more recent favorite series include the Penderwicks (which I read aloud to my kids when they were in elementary school) and the Vanderbeekers series—and I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from both for The Great Peach Experiment series.


Which of the Peach children would you say you were most like growing up?

Definitely Lucy – I was pretty responsible and mature (I’m an only child) and I loved reading.


What is something from your childhood that you snuck into the book?

I stole my best friend’s Sarah’s house to use as inspiration for The Peach Pit, including her closet with a secret reading/fort nook tucked up into a corner!



How the Book/Series Came to Be

How did The Great Peach Experiment series come about?

I was inspired to start thinking about this series after my family’s road trip in an RV. My kids kept begging me to buy a scratch off lottery ticket at every gas station we stopped at and when I finally caved, I made them play a game with me – what would you do if we actually won? What if you suddenly had a million bucks…how would you spend it? And I rolled on from there!

And how did you get the idea for the premise for this book in the series, Frozen Peaches?

After visiting the Swedish Icehotel for real about twenty years ago, I knew someday I would want to use that setting for a book I wrote someday. I’ve been saving this truly special setting for a truly special book ever since. Before I’d even finished writing the first book in the Great Peach Experiment series, I knew this was the perfect family to send on an adventure to this frozen wonderland!

I know that you lived in Sweden for a year, so you already had a lot of background knowledge to set a book there. What research did you still end up having to do?

The best research I got to do for this book was to try dogsledding! I didn’t know anything about that sport, and knew I had to at least have some fundamentals in order to write the dogsledding scenes. So my family and I booked a dogsledding adventure on Minnesota’s North Shore, and got to spend a day learning about harnessing, caring for, and guiding dogs through the woods!


Writing Tip!

Can you share any tips for writing a series?

The most important thing I do when I know I’m planning out a series is to keep a running series bible from the very beginning. Eye color, favorite stuffed animals, fears, room color, best friend names – you don’t realize how many things get casually mentioned in a book, and then you forget about them a few books later! So I keep a series bible where I note any details about characters that I include at any point in my stories.


For Teachers

Curriculum Guide

Do you have a curriculum guide or discussion questions posted online?

Yes! Pixel + Ink created both an educator guide and a Peach Family Recipe book! Check it out: 


School Visits

Are you doing school visits related to this book?

I absolutely love doing school visits – it’s the best part of my job! I’ve been lucky enough to visit a ton of schools this past year to talk about the “ingredients” I use when I create my stories, as well as the recipe I follow when I’m writing. I’ve been to many schools in Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Texas, New Hampshire, New York, and many others via Zoom! I have so many new releases between 2021-2024 that my school visits are extra exciting right now. There’s more info for me to share during each visit than I have time for, which keeps things interesting for me, too!


How can we learn more about you?

I have a ton of info and details about my books, the research I’ve done, my family/dogs/favorite things, and author visits on my website –

Thanks for your time, Erin!

Erin will be giving a copy of Frozen Peaches to a lucky reader. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy. (U.S. addresses only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Editor Spotlight: Alison S. Weiss of Pixel+Ink

Today at The Mixed-Up Files I’m very happy to introduce our readers to Alison S. Weiss, who graciously agreed to answer some questions about herself, her work, and Pixel+Ink.

Alison has been in publishing for more than ten years. She’s currently acquisitions editor at Pixel+Ink (part of Trustbridge Global Media), a publisher focused exclusively on series publishing with transmedia potential. There, she’s worked on many series, including Twig and Turtle by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, The Great Peach Experiment by Erin Soderberg Downing, and the forthcoming The Curious League of Detective and Thieves by Tom Phillips. She’s run her own editorial consultancy, working with publishers including Simon & Schuster, Audible, and Arctis, as well as private clients, and was Editorial Director at Sky Pony Press, where her list included William C. Morris Finalist Devils Within by S.F. Henson, the Project Droid series by New York Times bestselling author Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran, the Timekeeper trilogy by Tara Sim, and the Mahabharata-inspired Celestial Trilogy by Sangu Mandanna. In 2016 she was named a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. She’s been trying to live up to the title ever since.

You can follow her on Twitter @alioop7 and learn more about Pixel+Ink at









Dorian: Welcome Alison! Please tell us a bit about your path to becoming a children’s book editor.

Alison: I started out interning for Delacorte Books for Young Readers as part of Random House’s summer internship program when I was still in college. I knew on my third day that being a children’s book editor was what I wanted to do when I graduated. It didn’t turn out to be quite so easy, though.

After a year of job hunting, I joined Egmont USA as a Sales and Marketing Assistant. Egmont’s a big international media company, but they were just starting their U.S. division. They hadn’t even launched their first list when I started! What that meant for me was that I got to learn a little bit of everything that goes into making a book. About six months into my time with Egmont, I moved over to Editorial, and was there for another six years.

After Egmont closed, I moved to Sky Pony Press to help grow their fiction list, and ultimately became Editorial Director. Then I ran my own editorial consultancy for a couple of years, including doing work for Pixel+Ink, and that turned into me joining the company full-time in August 2020.


Dorian: What middle-grade books inspired you as a child?

Alison: Oh, this is so hard, because I feel like I was always hopping around, going from a Betsy-Tacy kick to only reading Goosebumps and Bonechillers. I remember having a deep love of The Castle in the Attic and The Battle for the Castle by Elizabeth Winthrop. I can still remember pulling them from the bookstore shelf. I loved E.B. White, especially The Trumpet of the Swan. Anne of Green Gables and the other Anne books—I dragged my parents all over Charlottetown to find the perfect Anne doll. I still vividly remember reading The Westing Game, and I think that, along with a lot more mysteries (I had a whole shelf dedicated to The Boxcar Children), heavily influenced the kinds of books I’m drawn to now.






All About Pixel+Ink

Dorian: Can you tell us a bit about Pixel+Ink and what type of books you’re looking for there?

Alison: Pixel+Ink is a pretty new publisher. We’re part of Trustbridge Global Media, along with our sister companies Holiday House, Peachtree, and Candlewick. What makes us different from those other companies and a lot of other publishers is that our focus is on series publishing with transmedia potential. We’re looking for properties with a lot of story to tell that we can develop across platforms, especially TV and film. Our list is pretty commercial, and we focus on projects that kids will love getting lost in.

We publish fiction for ages 3-13 (picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and graphic novels across those age levels). Our definition of series is pretty broad. It can be a series with lots of books, but they don’t necessarily need to be read in any particular order, like Magic Treehouse. It can be a defined arc, like Percy Jackson. Or it can start as something that might be a really great stand-alone, and we’re just lucky to get to go on more adventures with the characters.


Dorian: What middle-grade books are out or are coming out from Pixel+Ink that our readers should be on the lookout for?

Alison: I’m very excited for my first Pixel+Ink book to hit shelves at the beginning of June. The Curious League of Detectives and Thieves 1: Egypt’s Fire by Tom Phillips is, in the words of Kirkus, “a tale for which the word madcap might have been invented.” It’s about an orphan who makes his home in the ceiling of the Museum of Natural History (Mixed-Up Files vibes, anyone?), who finds himself accused of stealing a rare ruby and teams up with the greatest detective you’ve never heard of to clear his name. If you’re a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events or Enola Holmes, this one’s for you.

I’m also thrilled about launching middle grade series Plotting the Stars by Michelle A. Barry this fall. The first book, Moongarden, is a Secret Garden retelling set in space with definite Divergent/City of Ember vibes. It’s gorgeous and exciting, but also very of the moment with themes of climate change, social pressure, and exploring feeling like you don’t fit in. It’s going to be stunning.


All About Series Books

Dorian: What tips do you have for series writers as far as writing them and/or querying them?

Alison: When you’re planning a series, I think it’s important to have a sense of the kind of series you’re aiming to write so you can ensure you have enough story to sustain it. If you’re tackling something like our Twig and Turtle, will you have lots of different stories you can tell with these characters that make sense within their world? If you’re planning something with a defined ARC, is there enough at stake to get you through two or three or four books, where each one still feels satisfying on its own? Also, consider how you might grow your characters and evolve them over time. As you spend more time with them, they will inevitably show you surprising new things? Be open to that.

When it comes to querying, I’m often asked if you have to have all of the books written. My answer is no. But you do need to have ideas and enough of a sense of where you want to go that you can clearly communicate your vision. I think it’s also important to have flexibility. Plot elements will likely need to change over time as you come up with some new twist that makes something else you’d planned no longer a good fit. You might have envisioned five books, but it becomes apparent you’re going to need to wrap it up in three. Can you shift gears to make that fulfilling for your reader? Or you might need to suddenly come up with brand new plot ideas because there’s more demand than expected! Are you going to want to stick with the characters beyond what you’d originally planned for them, and can you expand their story in a way that does justice to what you’ve already created?

Be open. Be curious about the possibilities. And, most of all, have fun! At the end of the day, we’re working on projects that we hope will encourage kids to fall in love with reading. We want them to escape into our books’ pages. To feel seen. To explore new worlds and experiences. Your stories could be their tickets to becoming lifelong readers, open to immense possibilities. That’s a huge responsibility, but also an incredibly special one.