Today on the blog, we're here with an interview between Musa Rebecca Balcárcel and Musa Anika Fajardo, author of Meet Me Halfway.
About MEET ME HALFWAY:
When new classmates Mattie and Mercedes meet and realize they have the same Colombian dad, the two team up in a Parent Trap–inspired misadventure to meet him for the first time in this sharp and poignant middle grade novel about the bonds that make a family.
Rebecca Balcárcel: Hi, Anika! I’m thrilled to talk to you about your newest book, Meet Me Halfway! I fell in love with this book when I read an early copy, and I read this book in one day! Tell us what inspired this story.
Anika Fajardo: Thank you, Rebecca. Muchísimas gracias, too, for blurbing my book! It’s a thrill to have one of my favorite middle-grade authors say nice things about my book.
Rebecca Balcárcel: Aww, thanks! The admiration is mutual! So, the frenemy dynamic in your book is so vivid! Was that fun to write, or aggravating?
Anika Fajardo: So fun to write! Obviously, perhaps, the dynamic was inspired by the twins in The Parent Trap, which my mom introduced me to when I was a kid (the Haley Mills version). When I was young, I also loved the mean-girl dynamic of Nellie Oleson in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. So, in a way, I’ve been preparing for this storyline my whole life. What was most challenging about writing this, though, was making sure neither girl comes off more mean–or more likeable–than the other.
Rebecca Balcárcel: Yes, I see how that would be tricky. You did it well! (And I LOVE the Haley Mills' The Parent Trap!) You tackle the pain of lost family and the awkwardness of newly discovered family. Can you talk about how you entered the emotional lives of your characters to make that so real?
Anika Fajardo: Both of these–lost family and new family–directly reflect my personal experience. I grew up estranged from my Colombian father and, for a time, lived with a stepfamily. When I was twenty-five, I found out I had a half-brother around my same age. We happened to both live in the Bay Area at the time, so I spent a lot of time imagining what it would have been like to run into him unknowingly. I channeled my own experience in the writing.
Rebecca Balcárcel: I love how the girls run all over a college campus as they search for their father. What research did you do about the campus and other aspects of the book?
Anika Fajardo: I spent twelve years as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college and so everything that happens on the college campus is inspired by real life! I really wanted kids to see college from the ground level, to help kids who might become first-generation college students imagine what the college experience is like. I think kids get a lot of information about how college is about studying and learning and getting ahead in life, but there’s a lot more to college life.
Rebecca Balcárcel: So true! No wonder the campus is so realistic! I was struck by your use of myth and folklore and how it added a deeper layer. Can you talk about that?
Anika Fajardo: My stepmother is an anthropologist in Colombia, and she helped me track down mythology of Colombia’s indigenous people. Kids tend to really love mythology, and I wanted to show a story that they might not be familiar with. The story of Tima and Yui comes from an indigenous group called the Arhuaco in the Caribbean coastal region of Colombia. I recently got to visit an Arhuaco village and meet with some of the people, and it made me extra glad that I used their story.
Rebecca Balcárcel: Wow, that must have been amazing! So cool. So let’s talk theme. Opening to love and being your honest self are a couple of themes in this book. What do you hope readers take away?
Anika Fajardo: First of all, I hope readers get a fun read! I was inspired by the adventure in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and I wanted to write a book that made readers feel like they’re on their own adventure. I also want kids to see that families can be lots of different things and that we can’t always know what’s going to happen when we first meet people.
Order Meet Me Halfway today!
The offensive tradition? Teaching every 7th grader to square dance. Sounds innocent enough you say? Au contraire. While promenading and do-si-do-ing is fun to the grown-ups around her (in fact, Lupe’s mom remembers the moves and busts them out at the most embarrassing times), Lupe disagrees. Number one, square dancing isn’t cool. Number two, it’s not as athletic as climbing ropes or playing a sport. And what about the weird songs and lyrics? Lupe Wong is about to investigate!
Las Musas is thrilled to announce the cover reveal of Yamile Mendez's Shaking Up the House!
But first, a little about Shaking Up the House...
Ingrid and Winnie Lopez have lived there for eight years, but a new family is moving in, and the Lopez girls are determined to combine Ingrid’s comedic timing and Winnie’s quick thinking to give the new First Kids a proper White House welcome.
Skylar and Zora know a lot of things about the White House—Zora loves history, and Skylar’s thrilled to begin her new A-list lifestyle. What the sisters don’t know is that incoming presidents’ families are often pranked by the folks they’re replacing, and Ingrid and Winnie take that tradition very seriously.
When what is meant to be a friendly goof sets off an epic prank war, though, it’s only a matter of time before things spiral out of control. Can the four girls call a truce before an innocent trick sparks an international incident? Or will their battle go down in American history?
From acclaimed author Yamile Saied Mendez comes a laugh-a-minute friendship story full of hijinks, misunderstandings, and loads of glitter.
Coming January 5, 2021! Pre-order now!
And now, read an excerpt...
Las Musas wishes Kim Baker the happiest of book birthdays for her release of the middle-grade novel, The Water Bears.
We couldn’t be more thrilled to share Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s interview with Loriel Ryon, author of INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS.
But first, here’s a description of this magical, middle grade novel:
A girl journeys across her family’s land to save her grandmother’s life.
Yolanda Rodríguez-O’Connell has a secret. All the members of her family have a magical gift—all, that is, except for Yolanda. Still, it’s something she can never talk about, or the townsfolk will call her family brujas—witches. When her grandmother, Wela, falls into an unexplained sleep, Yolanda is scared. Her father is off fighting in a faraway war, her mother died long ago, and Yolanda has isolated herself from her best friend and twin sister. If she loses her grandmother, who will she have left?
When a strange grass emerges in the desert behind their house, Wela miraculously wakes, begging Yolanda to take her to the lone pecan tree left on their land. Determined not to lose her, Yolanda sets out on this journey with her sister, her ex-best friend, and a boy who has a crush on her. But what is the mysterious box that her grandmother needs to find? And how will going to the pecan tree make everything all right?
Las Musas is thrilled to share Karla Valenti's interview with Claribel Orgeta about her upcoming novel Ghost Squad (Scholastic, 4/7/20), which Kirkus called a “warmly-spooky middle grade debut.”
Before we dig in, here’s a teaser of this phantasmagoric adventure: For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd's witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely's firefly spirits before it's too late.
Like many in our community we've watched the last few weeks in a whirlwind of anxiety, worry, and confusion.
As members of our communities we applaud the decisions to cancel events, festivals, and more for the safety of those around us. As authors it made us wonder, how can we connect with our readers during this time of "social distancing"?
In response, Las Musas has launched an exciting webinar series to connect our authors with readers, writers, and educators around the globe.
Every month, we will offer a series of free webinars including:
Want to know what it takes to become a published author? Las Musas take you on a unique behind-the-scenes book journey! They will describe in detail how they took their books from idea to publication. They will also answer all your questions about the process of becoming an author.
Book Club & Author Q & As...
A book club where the authors answer all your questions! ALL YOUR QUESTIONS... OK, within reason.
Writing Craft and Publishing Insights...
Need help figuring out what is the best method to plot? How to write a query letter? Get a literary agent to represent you? Las Musas share everything they have learned along their journey to publication, from surviving your first draft to signing that first book deal!
ANNNND our first event is NEXT WEEK!!
(Click Read More to find out when!)
We are so excited to reveal the cover of Yamile's upcoming book: ON THESE MAGIC SHORES!
But first... a little bit about the book:
Twelve-year-old Minerva Soledad Miranda is determined to reach her goals, despite shouldering more responsibility than the other kids at school--like caring for her two sisters while her mom works two jobs. But one night, Minerva's mom doesn't come home, and Minerva has to figure out what to do. Was Mamá snapped up by ICE? Will the girls be sent to foster homes or holding centers for migrant kids? Minerva and her sisters can't let anyone know Mamá has disappeared. They'll just pretend everything is normal until she comes back.
Minerva's plan falls apart the first afternoon, when her baby sister throws a tantrum during Minerva's audition for Peter Pan. But as the days pass and Minerva grows ever more worried about her mother, something magical seems to be watching out for them: leaving them cupcakes, helping her find money, even steering them to friends and distant family who can help. Eventually, Minerva must make the hardest choice of her life. And when she does, she'll be prepared to face life's challenges--with friendship, hope, and a little bit of fairy magic.
ON THESE MAGIC SHORES is coming from Lee and Low/Tu Books on April 21, 2020.
We have been blessed with beautiful Musa covers this month and this one is no exception. So happy to share the cover for Chantel Acevedo's MUSE SQUAD: THE CASSANDRA CURSE coming in 7.7.2020!
More about MUSE SQUAD...
Callie Martinez-Silva didn’t mean to turn her best friend into a pop star. But when a simple
pep talk leads to miraculous results, Callie learns she’s the newest muse of epic poetry, one of
the nine muses of Greek mythology, tasked with protecting humanity’s fate in secret.
Whisked away to muse headquarters, she joins three recruits her age, who call themselves the
Muse Squad. Together, the junior muses use their magic to inspire and empower—not an easy
feat when you’re eleven and still figuring out the goddess within.
When their first assignment turns out to be Callie’s exceptionally nerdy classmate Maya
Rivero, the squad comes to Miami to stay with Callie and her Cuban family. There, they discover
that Maya doesn’t just need inspiration, she needs saving from vicious Sirens out to unleash a
curse that will corrupt her destiny.
As chaos erupts, will the Muse Squad be able to master their newfound powers in time to
thwart the Cassandra Curse . . . or will it undo them all?
MUSE SQUAD is forthcoming from Balzer + Bray in 7.7.2020!
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