Hi Betsy, and welcome to MG Book Village. We’re happy to be part of the cover reveal for your upcoming book, Welcome to Dweeb Club, which releases September 28, 2021. Can you tell us a bit about it, please?
Thank you so much! Welcome to Dweeb Club is about a group of seventh-graders who join an oddly named school club and stumble on video files of themselves five years in the future – as seniors in high school. Which leads to some important questions. First, who sent the files and why? And second, what if they don’t like what they see in their futures?
Their efforts to figure all this out, and to avert what they see as some poor life choices ahead, lead to ill-considered experiments with the space-time continuum, uncomfortable encounters with local wildlife (and with one another), and a madcap chase across a high-tech campus.
I love the idea for this story! I’d love to know the inspiration behind it?
This story rose from the ashes of a manuscript I had given up on. I was a little ways into a time-travel adventure set in the same (fictional) school as this one and featuring a character from this one, when I gave up on it because the time-travel contradictions were frying my brain. Then, in a final stroke of fate, I accidentally deleted the manuscript. Permanently. I started over with the time element curtailed so I could get a grip on it, and Dweeb Club was the result! My brain still ended up a little bit fried.
I’m always curious to know how an author chooses a title for their book, and if the final title is their original one. Could you tell us more about that process for this book.
This title came about pretty late in the process, and it was actually the inspiration for some quite satisfying revisions to the text. The book was always named after the club in question, but that changed several times over the course of rewriting and editing. I like “Dweeb Club” because it’s a bit clunky to pronounce. Try saying it five times fast!
Can you describe your main character, and what you like best about them?
Jason Sloan is the main character and, as club historian, the narrator of the book. He tends to categorize others with handy labels like “Stork Legs” and “Vegan Lunch,” which eventually lands him in trouble. I like Jason’s honesty, his willingness to be the punch line of his own jokes, and his ability to change course. He also has a way with skunks!
What does an average writing session look like for you?
I tend to write in short spurts and then rest for long periods. It’s almost reptilian. I will usually open the document and edit what I wrote during the previous session – to get back into the flow of the story – then try to add a bit more. It’s a slow process of accretion, basically.
OK, let’s talk about your cover. Who is the designer/illustrator? Did you have any input on it, and if so, what was the experience like for you?
Betsy: The illustrator is Lisa K. Weber, and the designer is Debra Sfetsios-Conover at Simon & Schuster, and they did an amazing job! I saw early sketches and made sure the kids looked like the ones in my head. It was very fun to see them come to life. I absolutely love how their shadows make the kids look bigger – like the older versions of themselves they see in the book. It’s so subtle and clever, and I never would have thought of it.
Let’s show everyone what it looks like!
I LOVE how this captures a moment of anticipation, and the look on the skunk’s face! I think this will really appeal to young readers.
What do you hope young readers will take away from your story?
First, I hope readers will laugh at Jason and company’s adventures, especially their skunk encounters and their low-speed golf cart chase. But I also want readers to see that life is full of choices, big and small, that can send you off on new trajectories, and there are always ways to change course if you want to. Finally (and this would have been really helpful to me in junior high): your seventh-grade self is a work in progress and guaranteed to change over the next five years—and beyond.
Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
They can visit BetsyUhrig.com for more about me and my cats and my other book, Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini. They can also follow me on Twitter @BetsyUhrig. And there’s more about my books at https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Betsy-Uhrig/168271742.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of your cover reveal, Betsy, and all the best with your book’s release.
Thank you for hosting me! And thank you so much for all you do for the marvelous middle-grade community!
Betsy Uhrig is the author of Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini and Welcome to Dweeb Club. She was born and raised in Greater Boston, where she lives with her family and even more books than you are picturing. She graduated from Smith College with a degree in English and has worked in publishing ever since. For more information about her, visit BetsyUhrig.com.