Accompanying this morning’s interview with author S.M. Vidaurri about his upcoming graphic novel collaboration with Hannah Krieger, the MG Book Village is pleased to share this EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW of All My Friends Are Ghosts.
Click here to check out S.M.’s interview, and scroll down to see a handful of selected pages from the graphic novel, which will be available in comic shops on Wednesday, and in bookstores next Tuesday! Click on each page to get a closer look at the art and get a taste of the story!
Hi there, S.M.! Welcome to the MG Book Village! Before we get to your new graphic novel, ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS, would you care to tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello! A bit about myself… Hm! I’m an author of a few books now, some of which I have done the art for, and others, like All My Friends Are Ghosts, I worked on with an artist. I’m also an illustrator, and have illustrated comics and book covers. I have written video games and in my spare time like to write prose! I have a cat named Ingrid, she’s a diluted calico. She’s very talkative! I like peach tea and superhero movies. I think that constitutes a bit!
How did you come up with the idea of having Effie, the main character in ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS, enroll in a school for ghosts?
When Hannah (the artist and co-creator) and I decided we wanted to work on a book together I asked her what she liked to draw. She said she liked spooky things like ghosts and Draculas and werewolves. I thought of a lot of different things but the one idea that stuck was a school filled with ghosts. We hadn’t figured out *why* they were filled with ghosts just yet, but that was the jumping off point.
Fascinating! And now, I have to ask — have you ever wished that YOU could be friends with ghosts? Or would you rather keep your interaction with them limited to the worlds of your fiction?
I’m sure most ghosts are very chill. I think I would be a cool ghost. I’d just probably haunt a movie theatre and see all the new movies. I imagine most ghosts just mind their own business and we only interact with the rude and scary ones.
Do you have a favorite character or relationship in ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS that was the most fun or rewarding to write?
I really loved Caim and Beulah’s relationship. How they went from being extremely at odds with one another to being friends. But I don’t want to ruin any of the story!
Ha! Lastly, we know that ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTSwill be available in comic shops in a couple days, on March 11th, and in bookstores on the 17th. But where can our readers find out more about your and Hannah’s work?
S.M. Vidaurri was born and raised in northern New Jersey. He lives and works in New York. He received a BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His apartment is filled with many animals. He likes romance novels and superhero movies. His first graphic novel Iron: Or The War After was published in 2012 and was nominated for the Graphic Album category in the Pépites 2013 Salon de Montreuil. His work was also featured in Locust Moon’s Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream which won for Best Anthology in the 2015 Eisner Awards. He is currently working on writing ‘Steven Universe: Harmony,’ a five issue miniseries starting in September 2018. His client list includes: Archaia Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse Comics, Editions Cambourakis, Image Comics, Paste Magazine, Z2 Comics, and many more.
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ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS, an original graphic novel from acclaimed writer S.M. Vidaurri (Iron, Steven Universe), artist Hannah Krieger (Psychic Mansion), and letterer Mike Fiorentino, about discovering what makes you special and believing in yourself, available in stores March 2020.
Effie feels a bit lost in her own life. Her mom’s always working, school sucks, and her teacher doesn’t get her fantastical fiction about werewolves and vampires. One day, when she realizes that no one will notice, she escapes from her everyday life… and discovers a school for ghosts in the nearby woods!
With the help of her new ghostly friends, she enrolls in Minourghast Middle School for Wandering Spirits, but just as she’s beginning to learn all about the amazing things that ghosts can do – like possession, poltergeist-ing, demon magic and more – Effie and her new spirited friends take on the challenge of tracking down and freeing a lost soul. But it’ll take more than ghostly powers to succeed. If Effie’s going to help, she’ll have to look deep within herself and trust the support of her friends.
ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS is the latest release from BOOM! Studios’ award-winning KaBOOM! imprint, home to comics for middle grade and younger readers including original series like Just Beyond: The Scare School by R.L. Stine and Kelly & Nichole Matthews, Hex Vet by Sam Davies, Hotel Dare by Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre, RuinWorld by Derek Laufman, Drew and Jot: Dueling Doodles by Art Baltazar, and Pandora’s Legacy by Kara Leopard and Kelly & Nichole Matthews, as well as licensed series such as Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Over The Garden Wall.
Print copies of ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS will be available for sale on March 11, 2020 at local comic book shops (use comicshoplocator.com to find the nearest one), on March 17, 2020 in bookstores, or at the BOOM! Studios webstore. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Madefire.
For more on ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GHOSTS and other projects from BOOM! Studios, stay tuned to http://www.boom-studios.com and follow @boomstudios on Twitter.
I don’t know about you, but for me, there was not a lot I could tell you about the 1920s beyond flappers and the 20th amendment. However, after reading Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties by Sue Macy, I feel a lot more knowledgable!
The way that author Sue Macy has this book organized is intriguing. The chapters are organized chronologically, each chapter covering a two-year span of the decade. The vintage pictures throughout the book appear to be authentically from that time period, along with timelines, both of which will appeal to readers. Speaking of authentic: there are short inserts throughout the book that are excerpts from actual newspaper articles about different female athletes. To help make sure the readers understand the context of what life was like in general during that time, Macy also gives engrossing information about what was going on in society during the 20s, things like political information or popular fads.
When it comes to the content of the book, I learned a ton! Although there are multiple stories in this book about how women were prevented from participating in certain sports or sporting events, using excuses like female health or a fear of women appearing masculine, there are also stories that are groundbreaking or triumphant. For example, soon after the game of basketball was invented, women were playing the game just like men were. Women were participating in the Olympics in the 1920s as well, and a woman took things into her own hands and brought the sport of field hockey to the United States from Europe in the 1920s. Macy made sure to also include African-American women in this book, and took the time to highlight occasions when sports appear to be integrated, and other times when discrimination or segregation were an issue.
When I started this book, I had no idea about the progress that was made in regards to women in sports during the 1920s, or the names of many of the specific women that helped make these progress. Due to the lack of other engaging middle grade books on this topic, I think that many young readers will be in awe of what they learn from Breaking Through, just like I was.
Deana Metzke, in addition to being a wife and mother of two, spent many years as a Literacy Coach, and is now an Elementary Teacher Instructional Leader for Literacy and Social Studies for her school district. In addition to occasionally sharing her thoughts here at MG Book Village, you can read more of her thoughts about kid lit and trying to raise children who are readers at raisingreaders.site or follow her on Twitter @DMetzke. She is also a member of #bookexcursion.
Hi Jessica! We really appreciate you stopping by MG Book Village to take part in Fast Forward Friday.
Thank you for having me, I’m so glad to be here!
I had the pleasure of reading your debut book, STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG, which comes out on March 17th, 2020, and I truly enjoyed it. Can you tell our readers what it’s about?
Sure! Shy and quiet eleven-year-old Yumi Chung wishes she had the courage to do stand-up comedy like her YouTube idol, Jasmine Jasper, but she can’t even stand up to her academic-minded immigrant parents. When a case of mistaken identity offers Yumi a spot in comedy camp taught by the incredible Jasmine herself, Yumi leaps at the chance. While her parents think she’s at the library studying for the upcoming scholarship exam, she’s actually going to camp at the Haha Club as her alter-ego, Kay Nakamura, who is confident, popular, and pee-your-pants hilarious. Basically everything Yumi wishes she were in real life.
When a new performing arts school with a comedy program opens up, Yumi dares to hope her new life could be permanent and yearns to audition for a spot. But her parents are dead set on her acing her exam and winning a scholarship to the prestigious private school instead. Unable to give up on her double life, Yumi’s lies grow bigger and bigger until she must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing everything and everyone she ever cared about.
I love Yumi, and I think young readers will really be able to relate to her wanting to make her own choices about a future career, rather than pursuing what her parents what her to do. Which character was most challenging for you to write?
Absolutely, as a mother of a middle grade reader myself, I know all too well how common it is for young people to be at odds with their parents around this age. In this season of exploration and self-expression, kids might want to start branching out and pursue new things and sometimes parents aren’t ready for those changes. It’s no different for Yumi and her family.
The character that I spent the most time developing was the mother. I think I rewrote her at least five times. It was so hard because I really wanted to nail it. I needed her to be authentic but also multi-dimensional. Many times, the “Asian mom” character is portrayed in media as strict and unrelenting but I wanted to flesh out her incredibly loving side as well.
In many cultures, including my own, it isn’t quite as common to show affection with hugs and “I love yous” the way we see on TV. Signs of love are more often shown in quieter ways, like preparing favorite foods, providing the best opportunities, and being willing to sacrifice for your kids. These differences can be hard for Yumi and other American-born kids to understand and that disconnect often leads to an assumption that the parent doesn’t understand them or accept them as they are. Through Yumi’s adventures, she realizes that her parents have always been her biggest supporters, even when she didn’t know they were watching.
I love that Jasmine, Yumi’s comedy instructor, teaches her that comedy is most relatable when it comes from a place of truth. What’s one truth you’d like young readers to know about this story or its journey to publication?
Probably the biggest truth I’ve learned in the writing of this book is that there’s no such thing as failure. Really! It’s so counter intuitive but it’s true. So many of us live our lives afraid to take a chance because we don’t want to look stupid or we’d be so embarrassed if things didn’t work out but writing Yumi taught me that life is full of possibilities and if one thing doesn’t work out, we can always try something else!
I really loved that you showed the reader that children of immigrants often have higher expectations placed on them because their parents want them to have security. If Yumi came to you for life advice, what would you tell her?
I’m not sure if children of immigrants have higher expectations, per se, maybe just fewer options are showcased. And yes, the professions we know about are often the “secure” options (doctor, lawyer, engineer etc). When I was younger, I mistakenly assumed that our parents were just materialistic and wanted us to make a ton of money. Or maybe they just wanted bragging rights that their kid got into a fancy school. But now that I’m a mom myself, I see the challenges immigrants and people of color face in the workplace and in society, and I understand where this thinking comes from.
If Yumi came to me for life advice, I’d tell her that it’s a gift that she’s found something she’s so passionate about at such an early age. I’d also encourage her to keep chasing other interests and pursuits, including her studies. I’d tell her to be honest with her parents about what’s on her heart, to keep standing up for what she wants while remembering who she is and where she comes from. Most of all, I’d tell her that she’s doing great and that I’m proud of her and it’s okay to make mistakes.
Are you currently working on another project, and can you let us know where readers can go to find out more about you and your writing?
Yes, I’m working on another contemporary middle grade fiction novel starring a Korean American tween! If you want to keep up with my writing journey you can follow me on Instagram at jesskimwrites or on my website www.jesskimwrites.com I’m also on Twitter and Facebook under the same name.
OK, one last question: are you a comedy fan, and if so, could you share a joke with us before you go?
I’m a huge comedy fan but sadly my jokes are pretty corny. So, brace yourself. Here’s my go-to favorite:
What do you call a man with no nose and no body?
Ha ha! Thanks again for joining us today, and I hope your debut year is filled with lots of laughs and happy moments.
Thank you so much, Kathie and MG Book Village for this chance to chat about STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! I hope you guys like it!
Jessica Kim writes about Asian American girls finding their way in the world. Before she was an author, Jessica studied education at UC Berkeley and spent ten years teaching third, fourth, and fifth grades in public schools. Like Yumi, Jessica lives with her family in Southern California and can’t get enough Hot Cheetos, BTS, stand-up comedy, and Korean barbecue.
Hello, Jenn! Thank you so much for stopping by the MG Book Village to talk about your new book, THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY!
Thanks so much for having me! I love the variety of posts on MG Book Village and that it’s a space dedicated to middle grade literature.
That’s so kind of you to say! Thanks! Now, let’s get to it… THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY is your third novel. Was your writing process at all different for this book than it was for THE DISTANCE TO HOME or 14 HOLLOW ROAD?
I’m starting to discover that other writers weren’t kidding around when they said that each book teaches you how to write that book. Things You Can’t Say was the first project I started writing as a published author, and it was an adjustment to learn how to quiet the noise of the publishing world and keep my eyes focused on my own page, so to speak. I wrote Things in fits and starts, largely because it took me a while to figure out what it was about, never mind how to get into the head of a contemporary twelve-year-old boy. There was so much that got left on the cutting room floor over various drafts and incarnations. Once upon a time, one of the characters accidentally burned down his house, and there was also once a scene with a seahorse birth! (Turns out neither moment was exactly related to Drew’s internal journey and those scenes fell by the wayside during revision.)
That’s all so fascinating. Thanks for giving us some insight into your process. And now that we know there’s no burning houses or seahorse births in this new book, can you tell us what THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY is all about?
At its heart, Things You Can’t Say is a story about family, friendship, and communication. Three years after his father’s suicide, Drew is getting by just fine on the surface, but bubbling beneath he has so many questions and worries, and, as far as he can see, no one to talk about these things with. The one person who could answer these questions are his dad, and he’s gone. But as Drew discovers over the course of the story, there are people you can say anything to: your true friends and your family.
Parental suicide has got to be one of the toughest imaginable topics to write about. Why do you think it’s important for kids to have stories like Drew’s?
I’ve been heartened to see over the past several years more and more books delving into tough topics for kids that were previously relegated to YA literature. I firmly believe that whatever situations kids might find themselves in in real life belong in the literature for them. I think we’re doing a disservice to young people by avoiding the sometimes harsh realities they may be living in, and only further ostracizing hurting kids in the process. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States according to recent CDC reports, and, alarmingly, suicide rates are on the rise among young people. Looking the other way doesn’t address the problem; it only furthers the stigma.
As you mentioned, in recent years, the border between Middle Grade and Young Adult has grown increasingly blurry, as Middle Grade authors and publishers explore darker, tougher topics in these so-called “Upper MG” books. What would you say to those adults who argue that kids “aren’t ready” to grapple with such material, or that such books shouldn’t be marketed to them at all?
What makes books different from visual mediums like movies or TV shows is that if you’re uncomfortable with something happening a book, you can always close it and walk away. In my experience as a librarian (and as a former kid!), I’m impressed by how often kids, especially more sensitive kids, know their own limits. Of course, parents can make decisions with and for their own children, but it’s alarming when they try to step in and decide what’s wrong or right for someone else.
What do you hope your readers – especially the young ones – take away from THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY?
I hope that Things You Can’t Say helps them empathize with kids like Drew, who have been forced to grow up early in the face of a huge loss. Statistically speaking, there are more kids in Filipe and Audrey’s situation (friends of the kid who’s lost someone to suicide) than there are Drew’s, and I hope this book helps kids like them understand the kinds of concerns Drew is quietly wrestling with. And for any readers who’ve lost a loved one to suicide, I hope they find a kindred spirit in Drew.
Many of our site’s readers are teachers and librarians of Middle Grade-aged kids. Is there anything you’d like to say to them – in particular those planning to add THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY to their classrooms and libraries?
When can readers get their hands on THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY, and do you have any exciting upcoming events or blog stops to celebrate the release and spread the word about the book?
Things You Can’t Say will be in bookstores and libraries starting March 3rd. I’m having a local launch party in my hometown of Cincinnati on March 7th. Full information about other appearances can be found on my website: https://jennbishop.com/events/
Where can readers find you online, and how can they learn more about you and your work?
Jenn Bishop is the author of the middle grade novels 14 Hollow Road; The Distance to Home, which was a Junior Library Guild selection and a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book; and Things You Can’t Say. She grew up in New England, where she fell in love with the ocean, Del’s frozen lemonade, and the Boston Red Sox before escaping to college at the University of Chicago. After working as a teen and children’s librarian, she received her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Jenn currently calls Cincinnati, Ohio, home.