Welcome to another feature for Celebrating Debutantes 2017. Today I’m joined on the blog by new author Allison K. Hymas to answer few questions about her debut middle grade novel, Under Locker and Key. This book is like mission impossible for middle grade readers. It’s fun, clever and captivating story for everyone to enjoy.
Following the interview with Allison is her bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Under Locker and Key.
Also, don’t forget to check the giveaway at the bottom and enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win fabulous prizes from Allison.
Here’s my interview with Allison. Enjoy reading!
Interview with Allison Hymas
Can you tell us a bit about your journey with Under Locker and Key? Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you write? And how was the publication process goes for you?
Under Locker and Key had a strange process for me, since it was a book that I didn’t take seriously for a long time. I first started it as part of an assignment for a college class on writing for children and adolescents. I had to develop a middle grade character, and that’s when I first met Jeremy. I liked him so much I wrote a short story about him, and I liked that story so much (and other people did too) that I turned that short story into a novel.
I worked on Under Locker and Key in my spare time as a backburner project when my other writing projects got too hard or I just needed a break. It was fun and easy for me to write; it fit my voice and style well. But I didn’t think it would go anywhere. Then, one of my teachers encouraged me to workshop it in his class, and that’s when I started to think that maybe I could publish this silly, fun story I’d just worked on for fun.
So I entered the book into a state-wide writing contest. I lost. In response, I queried agents like crazy out of determination and a little bit of spite. A couple agents responded, I chose the one I liked best, and she helped me find a publisher. It’s still strange, but not unwelcome, that the silly book I wrote but didn’t expect to publish ended up becoming my debut novel.
Why middle-grade? Do you think it is easier to write for younger audience than YA and adults?
Under Locker and Key was the first MG novel I’ve even drafted. As for why middle grade, I’m still not sure why I enjoy writing it so much. I suppose I like the fun I can have with this age group. Middle schoolers are at the beginning of a transition; they’re not yet teens, but they’re not elementary school children either. They’re losing their childhood identity and gaining a new one, which means that some, like Jeremy, can try to invent themselves as whatever they want. That means I can write adventures with heroes and villains as the kids try to decide who they’re going to be but don’t yet have the self-consciousness of teens about how that’s all going to work for them.
I don’t know if it’s easier to write for a younger audience, but I know it works well for me. I like humor and adventure, and Jeremy’s, a middle grade voice, comes easily to me.
What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing Under Locker and Key? Are there any fun things you discover during your research?
I’ve learned a lot about how to break the law while writing about Jeremy’s adventures. I have not picked a real lock (yet) or cracked the combination on a locker (yet), but I know how to do all these things in theory. I learned is that it’s not much like the movies. Picking locks takes a long time, and figuring out a locker combination takes quite a bit of patience and luck. You can climb through an air duct but they’re cramped, dark, and dirty. I’ve also been learning a lot about real-life hacking for later books.
However, my favorite thing that I’ve learned is how to lie convincingly and how to recognize a liar. Too much eye contact or not enough eye contact, touching the nose and near the mouth…clues like those. I can actually use this research in my life!
Do you have a favourite scene to write? And what scene are you most proud of, and why?
My favorite scene to write was the climax. I won’t give spoilers here, but I loved the way the story came together at the end in a nice, dare-I-say-clever solution.
But the scene I’m proudest of is the scene in the band room, when Jeremy is hiding from Becca. Some writers have to push their characters into trouble. Not me—Jeremy gets himself in trouble and I go crazy trying to figure out how to haul him out of the fire yet again. This scene gave me so much grief because I couldn’t figure out how to realistically resolve it for the longest time, but in the end, it worked out and because it was tricky, it turned out better than I expected with more suspense.
If Jeremy could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your younger years, what would the title of that book be and what would be the first line?
Oh, my. That’s a scary thought. I was pretty energetic and got into some trouble as a young child, but by the time I was Jeremy’s age I had mellowed out and was the shy, quiet girl in class who liked to read and write. I suppose the title would be something like Born to Be Mild and the first line would be, “See that girl reading over there? She has some stories to tell, some of them true.”
Are you working on other stories as of the moment? Could you tell us about it?
I’m working on a couple other stories. One is a sequel to Under Locker and Key, and the other is a YA science fiction about a boy who goes into other people’s dreams and learns that a girl in his town is in danger.
Thanks so much Allison!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a middle schooler, Allison K. Hymas was a law-abiding citizen (except for the occasional offense of reading under her desk when she should have been listening). She now holds an MFA from Brigham Young University and currently lives in Utah. Under Locker and Key is her first novel. Allison is hard at work writing Jeremy Wilderson’s further adventures.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Under Locker and Key
Author: Allison K. Hymas
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Eleven-year-old Jeremy Wilderson teams up with his rival crime fighter to stop the stealing spree that’s wreaking havoc on Scottsville Middle School.
Jeremy Wilderson is not a thief. In fact, he is his middle school’s one and only retrieval specialist. Confiscated cell phones, stolen lunch money—he’ll discretely retrieve it before the last bell rings. Business is good, and if it weren’t for the meddling of preteen private investigator Becca Mills, he’d be happier than a gym teacher on dodgeball day.
But a new job shatters his comfortable lifestyle. Now, thanks to Jeremy, the master key to the schools’ lockers is in the hands of an aspiring crime kingpin who doesn’t exactly have Jeremy’s strong moral character. Soon not even combination locks can protect the students’ textbooks and jackets. Retrieving the key is too big a job for one crime fighter, and only one person wants the key returned as much as Jeremy does: Becca Mills.
Lockers are being robbed, the teachers are looking for the culprit, and the only person Jeremy can turn to is the girl who most wants to see him in the principal’s office. Will Jeremy be able to trust Becca enough to get the key back in the right hands? Or could he end up in detention until the end of high school instead?
What’s up for Grab?
- Signed copy of Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas
- Under Locker and Key Bookmark
- Retrieval Specialist” pair of sunglasses
- Open International
- 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 12th, 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.