FAST FORWARD FRIDAY – Julie Abe

Hi Julie, and welcome to MG Book Village. I’m delighted to have you here today as part of our Fast Forward Friday feature. Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself, please?

Thank you so much for having me, Kathie! MG Book Village has been a go-to place for everything middle grade, so I’m excited to be here.

I was born in Japan and grew up in California and Virginia, spending many summers with my grandparents in Chiba, Japan. Nowadays, you can find me behind my computer working for my day job or… also hidden behind my computer, working on my stories. For fun, I like to bake bread in the shape of animals and travel.

My love for writing started with my love for books. When I was younger, I was the stay-up-all-night, reading-under-the-blankets kind of kid. And I moved around a few times, so it was tough to find the best friend that I always wanted, but books never let me down.

After college, I started working but I was missing something… the books I’d loved. I started reading again, and that inspired me to try writing. Over time, I realized publication was a true dream of mine, and I seriously started writing. I tried writing all kinds of stories, but when I began writing EVA, my debut, something about it felt so right.

Your debut book, EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH is set to be released in August 2020 by Little, Brown Young Readers. I’d love it if you could describe it in your own words, and tell us what inspired it.

EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH is about a 12-year-old girl with a pinch of magic who’s determined to pass her witch’s test… or she’ll lose her powers forever.

A few years ago, I was querying a young adult contemporary novel that was a bit dark, and something about it made my heart so heavy every time I worked on it. Querying itself is a difficult process, and I had begun to lose hope. Then I thought of this story of a girl without a lot of powers but determined and full of hope. Writing EVA uplifted me, and I pulled in so many things I love, like Eva’s companion, Ember, who is based on my best furry friend, and tasty food like cloudberry popcorn (I love popcorn!) and contomelon rolls (based off of melon pan, a tasty Japanese bread).

I also wrote about things that scare me… I was in Japan during the 2011 Great Tohoku earthquake. It hit with a magnitude of 9.0 off the coast of Japan, when I was on a train with my mother and grandmother. I thought the train was derailing, but when I looked outside the window, everything was rippling. We couldn’t get home that night and had to stay with a family friend but… we were definitely the lucky ones.

Seeing Japan torn apart by the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns trickled into my story, and my wish that I could’ve done something to fix things, even in the face of impossible disasters, is also something that Eva feels when she fights the dangerous storm that looms over her realm.

What do you hope young readers will take away from your book?

I want readers to feel like they’ve snuggled up to a flamefox and their heart is a little warmer from following Eva’s adventures. Most of all, even when things get tough, I want them to have hope and to believe in themselves.

Can you share one thing that has surprised you about publishing your debut book?

The joy of art! As writers, we naturally focus on the written word, but I love seeing the art that Shan Jiang, the cover artist for EVA, has come up with. He’s also working on art for the beginning of each chapter of EVA. He’s capture the essence of Eva and her adventures so well—it’s real-life magic! (You can find Shan on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/shanjiang790/)

I also celebrated my debut book deal by commissioning art by the talented Mariana Avilez (https://www.instagram.com/mavilezart/)! It’s been so much fun to make stickers and buttons of my characters, and I can’t wait to share these with future readers!

These are so cool! Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?

You can follow my writing adventures through my quarterly “Pinch of Magic” newsletter at https://www.julieabebooks.com/newsletter! Or, if you’re on social media, at https://instagram.com/julieabebooks and https://twitter.com/julieabebooks.

Thank you so much for stopping by MG Book Village, and best of luck during your debut year.

Thank you so much, Kathie!

Julie Abe is the author of EVA EVERGREEN, SEMI-MAGICAL WITCH, releasing in 2020 (Little, Brown Young Readers), and the second book in the series, releasing 2021. She has lived in Silicon Valley, spent many humid summers in Japan, and currently basks in the sunshine of Southern California with never enough books or tea. Keep up her latest books and adventures on Julie’s Instagram at www.instagram.com/julieabebooks.

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