Hi, Tamara! Thank you so much for joining us today. I loved PIXIE PUSHES ON, your new middle grade novel that comes on on January 14th. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Thank you, Kathie! And thank you for having me today.
Pixie Pushes On, tells the story of Pixie, a young girl in the 1940’s and the bittersweet lessons she learns from farm life as well as life without her sister who is hospitalized with polio. Pixie’s mother has recently passed away, too –so Pixie is convinced the world would be better off if she never got close to anyone again. This is the story of her finding out everyone has something they are going through –and maybe, just maybe– it’s easier if you let people in.
What was it like for you to write your second MG novel?
Writing my second middle grade novel was wonderful and scary all wrapped up in one. With my first, Walking with Miss Millie –the idea had formulated and percolated in my mind for so long, it became a part of me. Then that novel was born into the world and it was time to sit down and write another. On one hand, I felt like I had been to a very special school to have worked with the amazing Nancy Paulsen on Millie –and therefore my next manuscript could only get better. But on the other hand, I worried that it wasn’t all going to happen again. What if the creativity was all dried up? What if I was a one-hit-wonder? (We writers are a needy bunch!) But once I got out of my own head –I really did enjoy the process. And working with Nancy Paulsen once again was an absolute gift.
I’ve loved so many of the books in which Nancy has been involved. I know this is a personal story that is connected to your family history. Would you share a bit about the inspiration for it with our readers?
Writing Pixie Pushes On was so special to me! Since my mom and dad both grew up on farms, they would tell me stories about their childhoods. From my perspective as a city-kid, I was amazed at their tales–especially my mom’s stories of her favorite lamb, Buster. But it wasn’t until I was writing this novel that I sat down and asked them detailed questions I never thought to ask before about the logistics and particulars of their lives during that time. This coincided with my dad being in the hospital and I swear I could see both him and my mom grow visibly younger while recounting the long-lost days of their childhoods. It was such a gift to us all. And now that my dad has since passed away, those days, those memories are more precious than ever.
I love the cover of this book. Can you tell me a bit about the design team, and whether or not you had input on the process?
Oh, I so love the cover! The illustrator, Matt Saunders, captured so beautifully the nostalgia of the novel. The colors are so warm and inviting–like a perfect sunset! The funny thing is, the cover actually necessitated a title change. My original title was And the Creek Don’t Rise (based on the way Pixie and her sister sign off their letters). But when the illustrator came up with this cover –and we loved it –but there was no room for a creek, we decided it needed a new title. We honestly went through about 30 suggested titles before we landed on Pixe Pushes On!
Do you have a favorite character or relationship in this story?
I am in love with Granddaddy! The way he is so wise and calm -such a tower of strength for Pixie, makes me happy. I really don’t think of myself as giving him the words. I feel he tells me what to say. So I can honestly say when he speaks sometimes, I tear up. It’s like I’m eavesdropping on two people. (again –this probably says more about the personality of us writers! We are an interesting species.)
Granddaddy was a favorite character for me, too. If there’s one thing you’d like our readers to know about PIXIE PUSHES ON, what would it be?
I hope that after reading Pixie –and finding out how the story came to be –readers will take the time to really get to know their older relatives. If they are lucky enough to have a grandparent, great-grand parent –anyone –I want them to ask them about their childhoods –and listen –really listen, before it’s too late. If I can get just one more person to connect in that way with someone, I’ll be thrilled.
Do you have another writing project on which you’re working right now?
I’m super excited about a novel-in-verse project that is based on a true story I experienced that is currently on submission. And, I am thrilled to say I have my debut picture book coming out next year! Details coming soon!
Congratulations, that’s great news! I personally would LOVE to read a novel in verse by you; your writing is so poetic. Where can our readers find you if they want to know more about you and your writing?
My website is https://www.tamarabundy.com/
I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Tamara, and all the best on your book’s launch next week!
Thank you so much for talking with me today –and for all you do for reading!