Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I’m joined on the blog by author Sally Pla to answer few questions about her debut middle grade contemporary novel, The Someday Birds. This especial book will give readers not only memorable characters but also beautiful story that is heartwarming, hopeful and fun.
Following the interview with Sally is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Someday Birds. And for a chance to own a signed copy of the book and some bird related swags, check the bottom of the post and enter the rafflecopter form.
Here’s my interview with Sally. Enjoy reading!
Interview with Sally Pla
Can you tell us a bit about your journey with The Someday Birds? When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?
When my three sons were young, we took them on many summer-vacation road trips across the country. From our home in Wisconsin, we went west to Yellowstone one summer, and east to Colonial Williamsburg the next. These trips weren’t very easy on my middle son, who’s autistic. He likes the comfort of his home, and doesn’t like change. When we traveled, he subsisted mainly on chicken nuggets, to the point his big brother said something that struck me deeply one day. He jokingly said, “Nate, with all the chicken you’ve eaten on our trips, you should write a travel journal and call it ‘Chicken Nuggets Across America.'”
The idea stuck in my head — a journal of surviving change.
It was years before I actually sat down to write, but that was the seed. I thought it would be a humorous, lighthearted tale, based on our family experiences. But as I wrote, the story got deeper and richer. It turned into a true tale of my heart.
Regarding the timescale: It took me nine or ten months to finish the first-draft manuscript. I started Feb-March 2014, finished and found an agent in November, went on submission in March 2015, struck a book deal in May 2015. The book was published a year and half later in Jan 2017. I think that’s a fairly standard publishing time frame.
The Someday Birds is both charming and heartwarming story that is full of hope and has a strong focus on family. How much of this does reflect on your own life?
My family, like Charlie’s, is eccentric, humorous and quirky — but in different ways. Getting through tough times with humor and pragmatism, and facing challenges with honesty: this is important to me in real as well as fictional family life!
Charlie is such a charming and sweet character. How did you go about putting yourself in his mindset especially with his condition? What are the challenges you encounter in writing his story?
Interestingly, Charlie’s voice came to me, one day, clear as a bell. I didn’t have to do a thing to put myself in his mindset. I started out thinking I was writing to honor my autistic son’s life experience. But I think I was honoring my own. As a result of writing The Someday Birds, I reflected back deeply on my own childhood.
What is your favorite part about writing your debut novel, The Someday Birds?
I love the process of writing, the sense of immersion and flow. Now that the book is finished, I love
getting fan letters from young readers. and talking to them during school visits. There is nothing like meeting students who are so excited to talk about their own stories.
What is the message that you want readers to pick up from The Someday Birds?
That the important movement of “We Need Diverse Books”
includes a need for “NEURO-Diverse Books” as well. I just met with 250 6th graders today. I asked, “Who here knows or knows of someone with autism?” Every single hand was raised. We don’t have enough books written from neuro-diverse perspectives, and I hope many more writers join me in trying to rectify this.
Also, the message that living life fully entails risk — and is worth the risk. That we live in confusing and stressful times, but when you get out in the world, there is so much kindness and caring to be found, even in the most unexpected strangers.
You’re currently working on your second novel, JOHN LOCKDOWN IS IN THE BUILDING. How’s it coming along? Do you think you’ll stick writing middle-grade contemporary or branch out into something else?
JOHN LOCKDOWN IS IN THE BUILDING is due out with HarperCollins in Feb 2018, and I am so excited about it. The hero, Stanley, is sharply funny, highly anxious, and afraid of EVERYTHING. He’s also a comics trivia fanatic, and there’s a wild treasure hunt in the book that challenges Stanley to the max. Comics are also interspersed throughout the story.
I have a young children’s picture book coming out with Lee & Low in 2018 as well — BENNY, THE BAD DAY, AND ME. It’s about two little brothers, one with autism, during a very grumpy day.
And I’m working on a YA novel, currently. I’d love to try my hand at adult literary fiction some day… Many plans!
The one thing I think my work will always include, in one way or another, large or small, is the notion of neurodiversity.
Because it’s a big, varied, unusual world out there. And fiction of diversity helps us make our embrace of it wider — and better.
Thanks so much Sally and congratulations for getting many books deals. I’m looking forward for those in the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sally J. Pla is the author of The Someday Birds (HarperCollins 2017), a Junior Library Guild Selection and starred Publishers Weekly review. Kirkus called it “hopeful, authentic, and oddly endearing. Booklist called it “a delight from beginning to end.” A second middle grade novel, John Lockdown Is In the Building, as well as a children’s picture book, will publish in 2018. Sally lives near lots of lemon trees in Southern California, where she’s hard at work on the next story.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: The Someday Birds
Author: Sally J Pla
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets.
And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird books and art supplies, his favorite foods, and comfortable routines.
But life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. And when Dad gets sent across country for medical treatment, Charlie must reluctantly travel to meet him. With his boy-crazy sister, unruly twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend at the wheel, the journey looks anything but smooth.
So Charlie decides to try and spot all the birds that he and his dad had been hoping to see together in the wild. If he can complete the Someday Birds list for Dad, then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay…
Equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an unusual boy, and portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.
What’s up for Grab?
- signed copy of The Someday Birds + some bird-related swag
- Open US/CA
- There will be one (1) winner
- Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
- Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
- Ends July 6th, 2017
- Prizes will be sent by the author
To enter fill out the rafflecopter form
Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.