ABC Game With MG/YA Author, Jo Knowles
Friday, October 13, 2017
Today is one of the luckiest days of the year. I am not alone in thinking this either.
Our lucky ABC Game contestant today is middle grade and young adult author, Jo Knowles, who knows how to tap into our emotions with her books.
The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all.
My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.
Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!
Below is Jo’s list of categories from A – Z and her answers from off the top of her head.
ANTONYM FOR AWFUL: Astonishing
BEATLES SONG: Revolution
CARTOON CHARACTER: Sponge Bob
DAY OF WEEK: Saturday
EVERY CHILD: Is a gift
GAME: Catch Phrase
HOGWARTS HOUSE: Hufflepuff
JEWEL: sea glass
KEEPSAKE: A little note my son left for me when he was learning to write that says “I love you.” I keep it in my wallet and look at it every so often when I need a hug and it always makes me feel better.
LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU): Embarrassing confessions (usually my own)
MOVIE: Princess Bride
NAME AN ‘N’ STATE: New Hampshire
ONOMATOPOEIA WORD: Zoomed!
PARADISE: Chebeague Island, Maine
QUOTE: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
RED (SOMETHING): Heart
SPORT: Ultimate Frisbee
TALENT: Cat Whisperer
UNUSUAL ANIMAL: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
VIBRANT COLOR: Fuschia
WONDER (THINGS YOU WONDER ABOUT): Love
X WORD OR NAME: Xena
YEAR AND WHY?: 1999, the year my son was born
ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE: I sparked a flashmob dance party right before my New England SCBWI speech and got several hundred people dancing to help break the ice and make my speech feel less terrifying, since dancing in front of people is WAY more scary.
ME: Welcome Jo! I have to ask straight away, (asking for a friend 😉) do you belong to Hufflepuff House?
JK: Yes! My husband (a Gryffindor) is somewhat embarrassed. I don’t really get it.
ME: I belong to Hufflepuff too! I think the Gryffindors forget how much value we Hufflepuffs have.
Jane Goodall is one of my idols. Her extensive work with apes, understanding them and connecting with them is a superhuman power. Being a cat whisperer is a not just a talent but a superhuman power as well. With dogs, you can pretty much figure out what they are thinking, but not cats. Are you a cat whisperer? And can you share some cat secrets with us?
JK: Jane Goodall is my idol too. Her life’s mission to do good work is deeply moving and inspiring. As for cat secrets, here’s one: If they want to lick your hand, let them. It means they love you.
ME: Good to know! My daughters are allergic to cats so we have never had one but my parents cat licks my hand every time I visit their house. She then proceeds to jump up onto their table and proceeds to show me how gravity works.
JK: Cats are the best even when they’re kind of awful. I’m so sad your daughters are allergic!
ME: You have another talent besides writing and being a cat whisperer… Creating a flash mob dance party as an ice breaker! That is an astonishing FEAT! Wish I had been there. May I steal that idea for future use? Was the song you danced to, REVOLUTION by the Beatles?
JK: Haha. Of course you can steal it. The world can always use more music and dancing. We danced to BRAVE, by Sara Bareilles. Being brave was the theme of my talk so it seemed appropriate. I have a lot of social anxiety and public speaking is a huge challenge for me. Luckily I had two extremely supportive SCBWI members, Pam Vaughan and Sera Rivers, who helped coordinate the surprise and set up the music. It was so much fun!
ME: BRAVE is an excellent song choice for such events and for anyone who suffers social anxiety. Shout out to you for creating that wonderful ice breaking experience and shout out to Pam Vaughan and Sera Rivers for being spectacular friends!
About Marcel the Shell with Shoes on…please elaborate.
JK: You can find him here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9-sEbqDvU
ME: I had never seen Marcel until you sent me the above link. Imagination at work! Hard not to smile and/or laugh while watching it.
JK: Right? For years after we saw it my son and I would quote from that video. My faves:
“It would be my pleasure” (said in Marcel’s voice)
“Guess what I wear as a hat? A lentil!”
“Guess what my skis are? Toenails from a man.”
I’m laughing so hard right now. I don’t know why I find this so unbelievably amusing.
ME: You and I have similar senses of humor. 😊
What about , Chebeague Island, Maine, makes it paradise?
JK: I’ve recently become determined to walk through life recognizing opportunities, no matter how small, and saying yes to them. When you explore Chebegue, you quickly discover that quiet opportunities are around every corner. An inviting lane might lead you to a beach full of sea glass, a pop-up farm stand happens to sell beautiful local art, a rickety porch chair provides, if you sit there long enough, a view of the most breathtaking sunset you’ll see in your lifetime.
ME: I am always adding new places on my bucket list of places to visit and now Chebeague Island, Maine is on it. Opportunities come in every size and some of the most memorable come from the smallest.
Do you by chance have a new young adult book in the works titled, EMBARASSING CONFESSIONS?
JK: I think all of my young adult books are embarrassing confessions, if we’re going to be super honest and probably way too personal. But my next book is actually a tween novel with Candlewick Press called “Where the Heart Is” and it comes out in 2019.
ME: Yay!!! A new book! Please tell us about WHERE THE HEART IS!
JK: Where The Heart Is is about a 13-year-old girl named Rachel whose family is in financial crisis. To help out, she gets a job taking care of her new neighbors’ farm animals, including a mean pig named Lucy. In real life, I also took care of a very mean pig when I was 13. Her name was Caroline. She has the same fate as Lucy and the same character traits. Rachel’s best friend is a boy who would like to be more than friends, but Rachel is struggling with crushes and her own sexual identity, which threatens to end their friendship. I think if readers liked See You At Harry’s, they will find a lot to like in Where the Heart is. At least, I sure hope so!
ME: If you were to write a story using as many of your category answers as possible, what answers would you use?
JK: Gosh, I’m pretty sure I could use all of them! No problem! Who wouldn’t want to read about an astonishing cat whispering shell with shoes on who plays ultimate Frisbee with Xena and the Hufflepuff House?
ME: I would definitely read it!
Jo, thank you being a contestant on today’s edition of ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we readers did! I look forward to your next book coming out in 2019.
JK: Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun. I love your blog!
ME: Makes me happy you are a part of it, Jo. 😊
Readers, if you would like to follow Jo or learn more about her and her books, you can find her on the following:
Web site: joknowles.com
Facebook: Jo Knowles
Tumblr: Things We Put on Fred
Have a fantastic weekend everyone!
If you love to write, here’s my motto: