Today, I’m thrilled to present my interview with Debra Green, author of Violet and the Pie of Life and many more books for kids. Debra is known for writing with both humor and heart, and her new middle-grade novel is no exception. Plus, there’s pie! What’s not to love? Debby has generously offered to send an autographed copy of her book to a lucky winner. Read all about her and her new book and then scroll down to click on the Rafflecopter for a chance to win. (U.S. only).
All About the Author
In addition to Violet and the Pie of Life, Debra Green, AKA D.L. Green, AKA Debra Garfinkle, is the author of several humorous chapter book series such as Zeke Meeks, Silver Pony Ranch, and The Funny Girl.
She lives in Southern California and spends her mornings writing fiction before her day job as a lawyer. She loves giving writing workshops and talks at libraries, schools, and conferences.
To learn more about Debra, visit her website.
All About the Book
Tell us about Violet and the Pie of Life.
It’s a contemporary middle grade novel with humor and heart, about a math-loving seventh grade girl named Violet Summers who uses charts, graphs, and equations to try to fix her life. She has a lot to calculate after her father leaves and she wins the part in the school play that her best friend wanted. There’s pi, pie, laughs, and a cry.
What was the inspiration behind the novel?
Me, she says narcissistically. My parents went through a messy separation and divorce when I was about Violet’s age. Also, I was in the same play, The Wizard of Oz, that Violet is in. And I’ve always liked math; it’s so clear-cut, with only one right answer. Finally, like Violet, I love pie.
I loved all the mathematical diagrams. Was it difficult coming up with the drawings that reflect Vi’s problems (and solutions) in life?
Thank you. It wasn’t hard coming up with the diagrams. That was very fun. My brother is a math professor, and I think I have a little of that math gene. But I am not good at drawing, so it wasn’t easy trying to convey my vision to the artist at my publisher, Holiday House. I asked three twelve-year-old girls (my friends’ daughters) to look through all the charts and graphs and equations to inform me which ones were boring, hard to figure out, etc. Then I revised and deleted the ones that weren’t working. The girls were very helpful. I wanted the math diagrams to be entertaining and not resemble pages from a math textbook in any way. I think the artist at Holiday House carried that off really well.
I agree. As a kid, were you involved in school plays like Vi?
I was the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. I loved playing the villain. I also played the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, which was the one funny part in that tragedy, and the wacky woman in The Madwomen of Chaillot. Even as a kid, I always got the comic relief roles.
Writing Middle-Grade Fiction
You write for many age groups. What aspect of writing for the middle-grade audience makes it special for you?
My preteen years were the hardest of my life. When I was ten, my parents separated, my best friend died of leukemia, my grandfather had a fatal heart attack, and my dog died after getting hit by a car. I was like Job Junior. Many decades later, I may still be still processing some of that pain through fiction. Books have always helped get me through bad times. I hope to bring some cheer to a middle-grade reader who might need it.
Wow! That had to be so difficult for you. What else do you hope readers take away from Violet and the Pie of Life?
I hope readers see that math can be fun, interesting, and useful. I hope they’ll open themselves up to new friendships. Most of all, I hope readers will find my novel entertaining.
What is your best tip for those interested in writing for the middle-grade audience?
Keep asking yourself whether you’re writing honestly. Even if you’re writing humor or fantasy, characters’ motivations, actions, reactions, and emotions should ring true so that readers will care about them and their stories.
Click here for an archived Mixed-Up Files post on Debra’s tips for writing funny.
What can readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?
I’m excited to have a story in the anthology coming out next March called Coming of Age: 13 B’Nai Mitzvah Stories.
We here at The Mixed-Up Files are looking forward to that book, too. Congratulations, Debra, and thanks for talking to us and offering to send a signed copy of your novel to a lucky winner!
For a chance to win, click the link below before Saturday midnight:
Sounds like a great story.
Thank you for the great interview. The story sounds fantastic! Perfect for MG. Best wishes on the new book.
What an inspiring interview. Thanks for the post.
This author’s preteen life was definitely difficult and I can see how much her life experiences would help her reach the true emotional levels that make readers feel what the characters are feeling. Can’t wait to read this book.
My math loving kids would adore this!
I love the twist on “Life of Pi”!