Augusta Scattergood spent most of her career as a school librarian. Although she never stopped loving, reading, and recommending kids books, in 2001 she gave up being a librarian to follow her writing dream.
Her first novel, GLORY BE, was sold to Scholastic Press in 2010. It has been named one of Amazon’s Top Twenty Middle Grade Books of 2012, a Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book, and is on both the Mississippi and the Pennsylvania state lists of outstanding children’s books for this year.
She reviews books for the Christian Science Monitor, Delta Magazine, and avidly blogs about writing and books. She’s now editing her next novel, coming from Scholastic in the fall of 2014. For more info, visit her website.
Let the conversation begin!
How did you choose the genre you write in?
It chose me. I’ve always loved reading middle-grade fiction. It seemed like a no-brainer when a young girl turning twelve whispered in my ear.
How do you recharge your creative batteries?
Long walks. Talks with friends. Traveling. Reading. Especially reading.
Can you tell us about the book you’re working on? Is it coming easily or have you run into road blocks?
I’ve been playing around with a character whose names seems to be Azalea. I see her clearly and the first chapter just poured out. I suspect when I sit down and ask her to tell me a story, the roadblocks might vanish. Right now, the character seems to be seriously in search of her plot!
Is any material in your books based on real life experiences or purely imagination?
Much of GLORY BE is based on things that happened in the South in the 60s. I did a lot of research but I’ve always been fascinated by what went on in my own backyard, so to speak.
True= I’ve visited Elvis’s house in Tupelo.
True= I know a lot about libraries and even worked in a similar situation to Miss Bloom’s library.
True= I was in the Pep Squad.
True= My college roommate knew how to twirl a fire baton.
False= The swimming pool in my town didn’t close.
True= Many others did.
How many words have you written in one writing session?
I don’t really do the word count thing.
Are you a person who makes the bed in the morning?
If nobody’s looking? Actually, I do make the bed. Sometimes not the minute I jump out of it.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The biggest problem I had was not realizing it wasn’t quite a “book” yet. The newbie’s error. Submitting it before it was ready. Once it was close to ready, I found the perfect agent and we worked some more. When she submitted it to the perfect editor, things went very smoothly.
What is your very favorite part of the day?
Early morning. Hands down.
What was the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t write from the point of view of a boy.
Kids don’t read historical fiction so it’s a hard sell. Give it up.
How did you celebrate your first book being published?
I feel a little like I haven’t stopped celebrating! I started with a Book Launch Party at Inkwood Books in Tampa, a delightful little independent bookstore. Followed quickly by the Miami SCBWI conference- my first. I got to be on the First Books Panel, meet the amazing folks at Books and Books, and rub elbows with some of my most admired people. And that was all in the first month.
Best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Lately I’m leaning toward The Internet is the Enemy of First Drafts.
If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them?
You’re kidding, of course. I would be there in a heartbeat. (Unless it was Wagner. I’m not a fan. I know, heresy.)
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
My second novel, also historical middle-grade but set in a little town in Florida and told by a boy, will be published by Scholastic in Fall, 2014. We just announced that news, and I’m excited to share it.
Are there certain characters you would like to return to?
Right now, no. But I get a lot of kids at school visits asking what happened to Frankie and Glory’s friendship after the book ended.
Who was the hardest character to develop?
I think it was Brother Joe. At first, he was mostly an absentee father, appearing only to disappear. He needed fleshing out, so I had to do a lot of work on him.
Ever participated in a parade? What did you do?
Glory’s sister, Jesslyn, is in the Pep Squad at her high school. This is based entirely on real events. I marched in the home football game parades, after school on many Fridays. I can still do a pivot left, on a dime.
Would you rather plan a party or attend one?
Attend. I don’t like planning parties. I don’t really love attending them, though once I’m there, I realize what fun parties can be!
Of all your books, what was your favorite chapter to write?
Perhaps the chapter in Glory Be where the sisters end up in Tupelo, at Elvis’s house. It started out being a lot of fun, a way to add humor to a serious topic. By the time I’d finished, it had many layers. I like that about a book.
Do you collect anything?
I’m not a serious collector really. But I have way too many autographed books. Silver baby cups from family. Shells. Postcards.
What is the easiest part of the writing process? Hardest?
I love the editing process. I hate the first draft thing. Although I enjoy getting to know my characters, I don’t love digging to find out what they are up to.