Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Wendy McLeod MacKnight and her debut novel IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE!
Title: It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Age Range: 8-12
Launch Date: February 7th, 2017
Please tell us a little bit about your book?
When anyone in town could be the culprit in a crime, summer will be anything but boring.
Eleven-year-old Tracy Munroe and her family have just gotten back from their family vacationwhy did no one realize that her little brother, Lester, a.k.a. Pig Face, was allergic to sand, salt air, and the ocean before they decided to go to the beach? Now she has three big goals to accomplish before she goes back to school:
- Figure out a fantastic end of summer adventure with her best friend, Ralph, budding Michelin-star chef. (And no, Ralph, perfecting a soufflé does not count.)
- Make sure Pig Face does not tag along.
- Get the gorgeous new boy next door, Zach, to know she even exists.
But when Tracy and Ralph discover an envelope stuffed with money in the dugout at baseball field (and Lester forces them to let him help), they have a mystery on their hands. Did someone lose the cash? Or, did someone steal it? St. Stephens has always seemed like a quiet place to live, but soon the town is brimming with suspects.
Now they’re on a hunt to discover the truth, before the trio is accused of the crime themselves.
What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?
I wrote the first draft of this book years ago, when I was living far away from my hometown and feeling homesick. When I was a kid, my friends and are were always trying to solve mysteries, but either we were dismal detectives or our neighborhood lacked the necessary criminal element to achieve our ends! My first draft had WAY more characters; in the end, I pared it down to the essential three. And sadly, I did call my brother Pig Face once or twice when I was a kid because he knew how to push my buttons! And I always got in trouble for it.
Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?
I think I started out as more of a pantser, but as I get better and better I do a lot of pre-work before I start to write. With It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! I didn’t need to do any research (except about old barns!) because it’s set in my hometown and I know it like the back of my hand. Usually, I come up with a VERY bare bones concept, and then mull it over. I bounce ideas off my amazing agent, Lauren Galit of LKG Agency, who has a good nose for what works and what doesn’t, and she always pushes me to go deeper. Then I draft a detailed outline, do back story stuff, and then fast draft a very horrible first draft. I’m not saying that to be humble. It is always horrible. Then I read it over, and figure out what the heck is wrong. Sometimes that takes weeks. And then I start revisions, which for me is really an almost total rewrite. I research as I go, and then fill in the blanks when I’m done.
We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?
I had a teacher in elementary school who changed my life, and lucky me, I’ve gotten to tell her that and use her name in the book! Mrs. Garnett was infinitely patient with me – she read every story and poem I wrote and listened to every story I told her. I don’t know where she got the patience, but she made me feel special and talented, and really, what more could a kid want in life? I wasn’t an athletic kid, but I believed I could topple mountains and do whatever I wanted thanks to her!
What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?
I’ve thought about this a lot, actually. I’ve developed a classroom guide for teachers to use and it’s on the It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! Website. I think the book delves into themes that young readers struggle with – trying to impress other people, feelings of jealousy, feeling like they don’t fit in. In Tracy’s case, one good friend – Ralph – makes all the difference. But she makes some poor choices that come back to haunt her and has difficulty juggling old and new friendships, which I think is a really common theme in this age group. On the other hand, Ralph is singular in his pursuit of a goal – to be a chef someday – and is a wonderful example of what can happen when you actually apply yourself!
I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?
I have a 16, almost 17-year-old Lhasa Apso named Indy. He is one of the loves of my life, but he is the worst trained dog EVER. On the other hand, he is very stoic, looks a lot like an ewok, and still prances around the house despite his age!
Wendy McLeod MacKnight is the former deputy minister of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Education in New Brunswick. She grew up in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada with her own Ralph and Pig Face. She now lives in Hanwell, New Brunswick. It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! Is her debut novel. Her second, untitled, middle grade novel will be published by Greenwillow Books in winter 2018.
You can find Wendy all over social media and on her websites. Just use the links below:
Author Website: http://wendymcleodmacknight.com
IT’S A MYSTERY PIG FACE! Website: http://itsamysterypigface.com
You can purchase IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE! at bookstores or online at:
Barnes and Noble
Thanks so much, Wendy!