Mary Amato and Patrick Jennings are each celebrating the release of new, humorous chapter books. Jennings’ Hissy Fitz is out now; Amato’s Good Crooks Book 3: Sniff a Skunk will be out on April 28, 2015. The authors, who have never met, finally get the chance to chat here.
AMATO: Patrick, I “get into character” in order to write. As you were writing Hissy Fitz, did you ever find yourself coughing up hairballs or eating cat food?
JENNINGS: I did quite a bit of hissing. The temperament of my narrator often affects mine, sometimes overly. I was a testier guy while writing the book. I also ate a lot of salmon.
AMATO: Writers are really fun people to be around! I am haunted by characters until I finally give in and write his or her story. Were you haunted for a while by a cat before deciding to write Hissy Fitz?
JENNINGS: Yes, I was haunted by a cat like Hissy. Terrified, really. Her name was Dorothea, we called her Loobs, and she was intensely nasty to me and the other three cats that lived with us at the time. She chased one of them away into the jaws of, I assume, a coyote. I suppose it could have been the jaws of a Jeep. That ghost-white hellcat, who passed into the netherworld eight years ago, makes regular cameos in my nightmares.
Where did you come up with the idea of crooked parents for the Good Crooks books? Were your parents thieves and scofflaws? If not, did you wish they were?
AMATO: I had wonderful parents, but I had an active imagination. Throughout childhood, I was quite certain several times a week that my real parents had been kidnapped and replaced by look-alikes. My father had a small dark spot on his hand, and I would frequently check to make sure the spot was there. You talk about cat nightmares…hmmn…I wonder if most writers have a lot of wild daydreams and nightmares.
JENNINGS: Mary, this back-and-forth reminds me of your book, Please Write in This Book, where a teacher leaves a journal out with the title’s instructions written on its cover. The students in her class fill it with their words and drawings. There are so many voices in the book, and they are each so distinctive. Are you schizophrenic? If not, how did you manage this?
AMATO: I do hear voices. I bet you do, too. The difference between schizophrenics and writers is that writers want to hear voices. I’m delighted that so many people inhabit my head. I find myself extremely boring.
Speaking of voices. Kids’ voices are the best. My favorite comment from a reader was: “I’m so glad you’re not dead. Dr. Seuss is dead, but you’re not!” What has been one of your favorite comments?
JENNINGS: I remember one reader telling me that I was “a testament to my profession.” I think he was eleven. I had that letter on the fridge for a long time. I often get asked which of my books is my favorite, but one reader—a boy named Cortez—asked me, “Do you like your own books?” Then there was the kid who said that he’d “always thought reading was boring and stupid, but now I love it thanks to you.” Aw shucks.
You can find out more about their books as well as more Spring 2015 releases on: http://egmontslastlist.tumblr.com/
About our Guest Bloggers
Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her MANY books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in several states.
Patrick Jennings’s books for young readers have received honors from Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book, Smithsonian Magazine, the PEN Center USA, the Woman’s National Book Association, and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries. The Seattle Public Library awarded his book, Guinea Dog, the Washington State Book Award of 2011. His book, Faith and the Electric Dogs, is currently being adapted for the screen. His new book, Hissy Fitz, was published in January 2015. He currently writes full time in his home in Port Townsend, Washington.
Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/pages/Patrick-Jennings/430215403671950
Publisher’s Book Descriptions
Good Crooks Book 3: Sniff a Skunk
A funny, silly series perfect for fans of Dav Pilkey, Tony Abbott, and Nancy Krulik. Mary Amato is a star of state master and children’s choice lists and returns to the age category of her popular Riot Brothers chapter book series with this new venture.
Good Crooks Book Three: Sniff a Skunk! brings back our favorite pair of do-gooder crooks in a hilarious adventure about an odiferous encounter with a skunk.
A popular middle-grade writer moves to chapter books with this humorous tale about a cat that makes Grumpy Cat seem cheerful. Perfect for fans of Geronimo Stilton and Dog Diaries.
Hissy Fitz lives with some two-legged creatures who are destined to serve him in every possible way and understand his every whim. Sadly, these creatures are sorely lacking in their skills. For one thing–they touch him when they want to touch him. Don’t they know that the two-legged are there for him to touch when he wants to–meaning when he wants food? Petting wakes him up! They speak to him–don’t they know the two-legged should be seen–so Hissy knows where to order food–and not heard?! It’s becoming intolerable. What is this irascible cat to do?
Published January 2015. ISBN: 9781606845967