Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Middle Grade and Children’s Book Author Erin Dionne, who will be signing her new book at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Saturday, June 8th from 1-3 PM along with Middle Grade and Children’s Book Author Rajani LaRocca. Erin is a mom, college professor, and children’s book author (not always in that order). She loves to write about kids who face real-life challenges and who are on the “outside” of their community.
Thanks for being here with us, Erin. The first question we’d like to ask you is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)
They should check here first! They can find my books anywhere books are sold, and libraries, where they can read them for free.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
I’m on too much social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. You can find links to all of my sites on http://www.erindionne.com
Thank you for having me! I’m so excited to be at Annie’s!
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Secrets of a Fangirl?
I like to say my books are “smart with heart.” Much of what I write are contemporary humorous stories for and about kids at pivotal points in their lives—dealing with friendship changes, realizations about the role of adults in their lives, or school issues. Secrets of a Fangirl deals with many of these issues, and centers around the idea that sometimes we hide who we really are to impress people we probably shouldn’t be friends with in the first place. There’s also movie makeup, lacrosse, lies, and a science fair project gone off the rails.
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
I did a lot of research on cons (fan conventions), cosplay (dressing in costume to go to cons), and fan culture. When I was first thinking about this book, back in 2014, I corralled a bunch of college students from my classes, fed them pizza, and asked them to talk to me about their fandom and con experience so I could figure out what threads I wanted to explore in the story. A lot of them talked about cosplay hierarchy—how making your own costume is the best way to go (and the more realistic you can make it, the better), while purchasing a costume is looked down upon. I found this so interesting! There was also a lot of conversation around sexism and ageism in cons and fandom. Although I didn’t get into the politics of costuming at cons, a lot of the book revolves around sexism and ageism.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I love all of my characters, but in this book, I really fell in love with Hannah, a minor character. I wanted readers to not be totally confident in whether or not she’s on the main character’s side. I hope that came across!
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
By far, my favorite part of being a writer is connecting with readers. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from a reader (of any age) that they connected with my book and characters. And as a children’s book author, I get to go out into the world and talk with kids at school visits or via Skype—so I get to see their enthusiasm for good books. As for lessons, the biggest one for me has been that small acts of support and kindness to kids and aspiring writers mean more than we realize. I’ve had people circle back to me years later and tell me how my interaction with them was meaningful in ways I’d never expect. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
Critical! With one exception, all of my books have been set in a fictional village outside of Boston. And my 2014 novel, Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking, is a love letter to Boston—and revolves around the Isabella Stewart Gardner art heist!
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t.
Thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, Erin, and we look forward to seeing you here this Saturday!