Hi Claire, and thank you so much for giving MGBookVillage the opportunity to do the cover reveal for your debut middle grade novel, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, Kathie! Thank you so much for featuring my cover reveal. I live in Wisconsin with my husband and two toddlers. When I’m not working on books for kids, I’m hosting the podcast MAKING A MIDDLE GRADE, learning how to bake bread, and perusing my local library. I’m a summer girl through and through, so the fact that the leaves are starting to change is bumming me out a bit.
Can you give us a bit of a description of your book?
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT is the story of 12-year-old Abby dealing with her older sister’s mental illness and her own place in her busy family. Ballerina-in-training Blair has always been Abby’s best friend, but when she’s sent away for the summer to an in-patient eating disorder treatment center, Abby feels like she’s floating away among the stars that she loves to study. When a world-famous astronomer happens to rent one of her family’s cabins and enlists her help to find a missing telescope, she throws herself headfirst into his quest, hoping to distract herself from Blair–but becoming closer to her sister than ever through the process.
Think: sisters, STEM, and the northwoods of Wisconsin!
This sounds really intriguing, I look forward to reading it! What is it about the subject matter that inspired you to write a book about it?
I don’t know how to not write about siblings. As one of four kids, I’m used to being in a loud, boisterous family, and the different tensions and scenarios that play out when one member of the family is having a difficult time. So the relationship between Abby and her sisters was very natural for me to write. I was also really inspired by the eclipse in the summer of 2017, and how it took up so much attention and media coverage. I started daydreaming about a girl who was super into the stars, especially because of how small they make her feel, particularly at a time when she’s trying to find out where she fits into the universe.
Did you have any input on the cover design?
Yes! I’d always heard authors didn’t get a lot of say in their cover, but I’m so thankful that HarperCollins asked for my input and took it really seriously. I suggested a blueish cover with a night sky…and that’s exactly what we got! I’ve been a big fan of illustrator Pascal Campion for ages–his Instagram feed is one of my favorites. So when I asked if we could reach out to him and HarperCollins said yes, I was over the moon!
It’s time for the big drum roll, here it is!
I LOVE the cover, and the way the letters in the title look like constellations!
Thank you so much, Kathie. All of the credit goes to Pascal. Seriously–I am in awe of his art and the way he was able to play on the subjects in the book. It reminds me of a summer night, which is actually what I dreamed of!
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about your book?
Abby is a huge Star Wars fangirl! If there are any young girls out there who can’t wait for The Rise of Skywalker, have binge-watched every episode of The Clone Wars, and have a poster of Princess Leia in their room, this is the book for them. Also, the library + it’s kindhearted manager play a central role in the mystery of the story.
I certainly love a book with great library staff featured in it! What is the release date for WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, and where should we go to find out more information about your writing?
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT takes place in the summer, so its release day is at the start of my favorite season–May 19, 2020. It’s available for pre-order now. Readers can learn more about me and bringing me to their school or library at www.claireswinarski.com! But the best place to stay in touch with me is my newsletter, which you can hop on the list for at claireswinarski.com/newsletter.
Thank you so much for doing your book reveal with us, Claire, and all the best in your debut year.
Thanks for having me and for all of the work you do sharing MG books with the world!
Claire Swinarski was born and raised in snowy Wisconsin, where she still lives with her husband and two kids. In addition to writing books for kids and the grownups who love them, she hosts two podcasts, writes content for businesses, and is learning to bake a mean sourdough loaf. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, her debut middle-grade novel, will be published by HarperCollins on May 19, 2020.