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Author spotlight: Interview with Rebecca Stead


Author

Rebecca Stead writes books for children and young adults.

Authors Wendy Mass (“The Candymakers”) and Rebecca Stead (“Goodbye Stranger”) are  masterminds of middle-grade fiction who are now teaming up to write a book called “Bob” which is a magical story about the friendship between a young girl and an unusual creature. According to the official synopsis:

It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house. It turns out she’s right. Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who—or what—he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago, Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise. Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.

On May 6, Wendy and Rebecca will be presenting the story as part of Symphony Space’s highly interactive Thalia Kids’ Book Club series, produced in cooperation with Bank Street Bookstore, unites avid readers with the authors, illustrators, and books that inspire their imaginations. Each event includes a creative writing project, a discussion with the audience, a performance from the book, and a book-signing. The 2017-18 Thalia Kids’ Book Club season concludes with a visit from a pair of New York Times best-selling authors, who will share the story of their collaboration on a new novel. The interactive event is appropriate for ages eight and up.

Rebecca Stead recently discussed this collaboration and more via an exclusive interview.

Author

The cover of “Bob.”

Meagan Meehan (MM): How many books have you written, what are they about, and have you any special favorites?
Rebecca Stead (RS): Between us, we’ve written nearly thirty books for young readers. Four by me and twenty-something by Wendy, she’s lost track!
MM: How did you meet and when did you decide to collaborate on a story?

RS: We met at a writing retreat more than ten years ago and felt a kinship very quickly, having read and admired each other’s early books. One day, we bandied about the idea of writing a book together from two characters points-of-view. It took a few tries, and then I wrote the first chapter of what would turn into BOB and emailed it to Wendy. We passed chapters back and forth for seven years until we finished it!
MM: “Bob” is so unique…why does he wear a chicken suit? How did you imagine this story? For instance, did you think of the plot points and characters relatively 50/50?
RS: We had only a vague idea of what we wanted Bob to turn out to be. It took a lot of time to figure out the rules of the magic—who could see him, who could see him as a chicken, who couldn’t see him at all. We didn’t really plot it out at all. We trusted each other and took the story chapter by chapter. Bob and Livy’s mysterious friendship came to life very slowly and naturally.
MM: Was it challenging to co-author a book?
RS: The only challenging part was that we both get our words down on the page differently—I am more organic, and Wendy more of a plotter. We both learned to appreciate the other’s style and learned to adapt. We also agreed to only gentle reminders if one of us took a long time to get a chapter to the other person. It was our secret, no-deadline, no-stress project.

MM: What can people expect from the event?
RS: It will be at the end of our week-long book tour so hopefully we’re still speaking to each other! Otherwise it will be a very quiet stage! Kidding, of course. The kids will get to hear to a bit of the book, ask questions about BOB, learn about writing, and likely do some kind of creative exercise. We’re very much looking forward to it!

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To learn more, please visit the official website of Symphony Space, Wendy’s website, and Rebecca’s website.

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