Hi Anne, and welcome to MG Book Village. Congratulations on the upcoming release of your new MG historical fiction book, ONE LIGHT. Can you tell a bit about it, please?
Thank you! In One Light, twelve-year-old Eleanor, a descendant of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, joins the WWII French Resistance. She is responsible for a group of Jewish children hiding in a monastery cellar, and befriends feisty Shoshana, one of the fugitive children. When Shoshana is kidnapped by the Germans, Eleanor sets out on a dangerous quest to rescue her new friend. One Light is an action-packed story of friendship based on actual contributions of children to the Resistance.
I’m curious to know the inspiration behind your story?
After the publication of my novel Skylark and Wallcreeper I had many requests from readers of all ages for another story about the French Resistance. I find the topic fascinating and have researched it for many years. I have piles of information! There was so much more to write about, so I happily wrote another book that can either stand alone or be a companion to Skylark.
You went a different route with publishing this book. What were your thoughts?
I think that current events have really impacted the way people think about their goals in life. I had four books either with my agent or on submission, including One Light. The publishing process is very slow and became even more sluggish when the pandemic arrived. After considerable deliberation and consultation with my wonderful agent, I decided to release One Light instead of waiting a year or two for it to be published. I am not a spring chicken and entered the children’s publishing world at a later age than most writers, so I decided I couldn’t wait for the publication of books to be stretched out over a lengthy timeline. It was a scary decision but I’m excited about getting One Light out into the universe!
How do you fit writing into your daily life?
I would love to say that I block off a set amount of time and pump out a certain number of words every day. That’s never been my style, although I do tend to start writing a book and just keep on writing until it’s done. It may be a chapter at 3 a.m. or research at 10 p.m., grabbing chunks of time whenever possible in between. I have piles of post-its, notebook pages and backs of receipts with ideas and paragraphs scribbled in haste. The revision part is not the fun part for me, but as I tell students when I do Skype sessions, “Good writing is actually revising, revising, revising.”
OK, let’s talk about your cover. Did you have any input on it, and if so, what was the experience like for you?
When I reached out to the amazingly talented illustrator, Roberta Collier-Morales, to see if she would be interested in doing the cover for One Light, I was thrilled when she read the story and produced this cover. I had a couple of requests such as the Resistance flag, but I knew to leave her alone and let her do her magic. Roberta’s about to start working on the cover of my next middle grade novel, Beneath the Heart, which takes place during the Revolutionary War.
Let’s show everyone what it looks like!
I love the suspense with the wire cutters! Can you tell us about the illustrator, and what you thought when you first saw the cover?
I am happy to sing Roberta’s praises. She is not only a brilliant artist, but very perceptive about conveying a mood. I first met her when I was doing a project for teachers of refugee children called Welcome to Our Schools, and I needed posters. She then illustrated my picture book Amina’s New Friends, a story about a Somalian refugee girl’s first day at an American school. I knew that she would capture the intrigue and suspense of One Light and I think she did that with the wire cutters and the car heading toward the village. By the way, I am also a quilter and have used fabric that Roberta has designed.
What do you hope young readers will take away from your story?
I remember so many times as a child when I looked up from a book and realized the real world had been going on around me and I was lost in a story. It’s always my primary goal to replicate that feeling. In addition, One Light has many messages, not only because it’s a story about bravery and friendship, but it’s meant to encourage thinking (and hopefully discussions) about secrecy and resistance. That’s why I added Discussion Questions at the end of the novel.
What is the release date for ONE LIGHT, and where can readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
Anne: One Light is now available now on Amazon Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HJSHR19. I decided to do an introductory rate of $2.99 and will move to the e-book price of $7.99 when it is released on October 6, 2020. Information about me and my books can be found on www.anneobriencarelli.com. I just added a free story for students called Not Right Now, Grace: The True Story of Susan B. Anthony’s Picture. Grace was a friend of Susan B. Anthony and was my ancestor!
Thank you for allowing us to be part of your cover reveal, and all the best with your book’s release?
Thank you so much and stay tuned for more books!
Anne O’Brien Carelli is the author of adult nonfiction, the Middle Grade books Skylark and Wallcreeper and One Light, and the picture book Amina’s New Friends. She has always been fascinated by the French Resistance, and studied history at Case Western Reserve University. For her PhD, Anne researched psychology of the gifted. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Anne lives in the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York and spends any free time quilting and reading, reading, reading.