OAAA 2016: An Interview with Margaret Peterson Haddix

April 5, 2016     erinthebooknut     Feature, Interview, OAAA

Welcome back to Shadow Children author Margaret Peterson Haddix! It’s nice to talk to her again. Having just finished her Missing series we talked a little about what’s coming up next…

2276581. What have you been up to in the last year?

I have been working on two new projects, since I have two new series launching this year. The first book of the first series, UNDER THEIR SKIN, came out in January. IN OVER THEIR HEADS, the second and final book of that duology (a term I didn’t know until I started this series) will follow in 2017. CHILDREN OF EXILE, the first of a trilogy, comes out September 13, 2016.

2. You just ended your popular MISSING series last year; what’s it feel like to let go of a series you’ve been working on for so long?
It’s bittersweet. On one hand, there’s a sense of accomplishment in finishing something that I worked on for eight years. But on the other hand, I find myself missing the characters, especially Jonah, Katherine, and Angela. And sometimes I still think of something that would be fun to do with time travel, and then I think, “Oh, no! I’m not writing that series anymore. It’s over.”

3. What do you do for time management when you have deadlines?

I don’t sleep. No, just kidding! (Sort of. I do sleep less when I’m on a tight deadline.) Mostly I just become more focused. And sometimes having a tight deadline helps me pare down what I’m trying to say to only the most essential words and details. This is usually a good thing.

 4. Could you talk a little bit about your new release UNDER THEIR SKIN?

Sure! UNDER THEIR SKIN is about a brother and sister whose mother tells them she is getting remarried. As the kids try to figure out how that affects them, they learn that they will have a new step-brother and step-sister–whom they will never be allowed to meet. Of course this makes them very curious, and when their mother refuses to tell them more, they decide they have to investigate on their own. What they discover about their new step-siblings–and themselves–has repercussions far beyond their own family.

5. What made you want to write about the family dynamic in that book?

Part of it was hearing about the lengths other parents I knew were going to to try to make sure their kids got along in blended-family situations. I kind of flipped that around in my mind and asked myself, “What if a new blended family decided the newly related step-siblings shouldn’t meet at all? And what if they thought the fate of the entire world depended on keeping the kids apart?” I really like raising the stakes!

6. You have another book coming out in September. Can you talk a little bit about it?
Yes. CHILDREN OF EXILE is about another strange situation. A entire town full of kids are being raised far away from their parents, by other, very caring adults. Then suddenly when the two oldest kids in town are twelve, all of the kids are suddenly told that they’re being sent home, back to their original parents. But they’re still not told why they were taken away in the first place, or why they’re being sent back. Rosi and Edwy, the two main characters, realize they really have to figure out what is going on, and how they can deal with the frightening revelations they discover.

7. What’s the process of writing a new book like for you?

It depends a little bit on whether it’s the continuation of a series or an entirely new book–either a stand-alone or the first of a new series. If it’s continuing a series and I already know the characters and setting, I tend to jump right in. With something brand new, there’s a lot of wandering around thinking (and appearing very absent-minded, probably) before I write anything. A lot of times I start out with research–for example, with almost all of the Missing series books, I did tons of historical research which helped determine the plots.Generally I write notes to myself both before I start and as I go along, about how I want the book to go. But those notes aren’t anything terribly formal, or anything that would even make sense to anyone but me. After I finish a first draft I try to build in time to just let it sit before I come back and revise, but often I can resist dipping back into in pretty quickly, because I can think of so many ways to improve it, and I start feeling desperate to make it as good as possible, as soon as possible.

8. Do you have any writing rituals? (Special writing space, snacks, music, etc)

I have an office in my home where I do most of my writing. I like using a huge monitor where I can see a whole page all at once. I don’t usually snack while I write because I wouldn’t notice what I was eating, anyway, once I’m engrossed in the story. I don’t listen to music, either. I tend to tune out everything about the environment I’m really in when I get totally focused on writing, so I try to keep the distractions around me to a minimum. The one exception to that rule is that often my cat comes and sits on my lap while I’m writing, and that helps a lot when I’m not feeling so focused. I figure he’s comfortable (and often even sound asleep) so I can’t get up, and I might as well settle down and write, even when I’m not feeling entirely motivated. So my cat is a really effective writer’s assistant!

9. What’s on your plate for the next year?

I need to do final revision and/or editing on the second books in each of my new series, and then I’m also writing my first stand-alone YA in a while. It’s tentatively titled THE SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS, and it’s about two American girls spending the summer in Spain.

10. Anything else you want to tell us about?

Only this: Thank you for chatting with me!

Margaret is giving away something in our massive giveaway as well so go enter now! 

From our shelves to yours! 

Erin & Margaret

2 responses to “OAAA 2016: An Interview with Margaret Peterson Haddix

  1. Theresa Snyder

    I have to admit that while I have heard of Margaret, I haven’t read any of her books. But after reading this, I see I seriously need to get her books ASAP!
    The part about not being about to get to once the cat settles in cracked me up as I always think that way. Well, can’t get up to do anything, cat is sleeping, don’t want to disturb her! Lol
    Thank you!

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