Today we're excited to chat with Jeffrey Michael Ruby,
author of Penelope March Is Melting.
Read on for more about Jeffrey and his book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Jeffrey Michael Ruby!
JEFFREY MICHAEL RUBY (@dropkickjeffy) is the chief dining critic of Chicago magazine. He is the coauthor of Everybody Loves Pizza: The Deep Dish on America’s Favorite Food, and has also played college basketball in Ireland, assisted in an autopsy, and sumo wrestled in front of 20,000 people in New Jersey. He lives in Chicago with his wife and three children. Penelope March Is Melting is his first novel. Visit Jeffrey at jeffrubymedia.com and instagram.com/dropkickjeffy.
Meet Penelope March Is Melting!
An icy-cold mystery adventure to warm your heart—perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library!
Something sinister has come to Glacier Cove, an icy-cold town that sits on top of an iceberg. Nothing bad ever happens here. Until now. And it’s up to Penelope March to stop it.
Mmm-hmm, that Penelope—the bookworm who lives in the ramshackle house with her brother, Miles. The girl with the mom who—poof!—disappeared. The one everyone ignores . . . except strange Coral Wanamaker, a tiny thing with raven-black hair and a black coat.
When Penelope meets someone who seems to know secrets not only about Glacier Cove but about Penelope herself, she and Miles are pulled into an ancient mystery. Together, they’ll face the coldest, cruelest enemy ever known. Looks like the girl who only reads about adventures is going to start living one.
Magic cookies! Volcanoes! Penguins! Sea monsters! And a girl hero with the strength and imagination to spring into action.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
It was the hottest day of the summer in Chicago. We don’t have air conditioning, so I took a Chicago Shower, which is when you stick your head in the freezer to cool off. When I did, my face was inches away from an ice tray. I got a good look at an ice cube, and up close, it looked like some kind of weird planet. Every crack and crater, every sapphire swirl, was enormous and creepy. That’s when the idea popped into my head: What if a whole world was in that ice cube, and that world was melting?
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I like Atalanta Sparks. She’s a tough, funny penguin who has a tattoo on her wing and spits krill tobacco everywhere, but also shows tons of vulnerability. It was important for the book to have strong female characters beyond Penelope, and that’s what Sparks is. She’s a fearless and salty soldier, the kind you want leading you into the terrifying underwater mission near the end. Even if she’s two feet tall. And, you know, a penguin.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. Debates about the title went on long after I finished a draft. It got ridiculous, to the point where we were throwing around goofy suggestions like The Phenomenal Near-Sinking of Glacier Cove and Penelope March and a Bunch of Weird Penguins in a Submarine. At one point, my editor jokingly suggested calling it Unfrozen. I think a lot of little girls would have been really confused. Including my 5-year-old. “Where’s Elsa? . . . Where’s Olaf?”
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The last one. I rewrote it dozens of times and it never felt right. To write something emotional that ties everything together in a satisfying way without being all syrupy was a tough trick for me to pull off. I still hope I got it right.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
The act of writing is free. It costs nothing but emotion and sweat. I can spend hours tap-tap-tapping away and it exercises my brain without ever spending a penny. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it to be great way to spend my time.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
A lot of authors grumble about their book covers. But I love the cover. The way it mixes humor and horror totally nails the vibe of the book. It’s goofy, scary, and icy blue. And it leads to all these questions, like: Why is there a man with a chainsaw? What’s with the penguins looking like ghosts? Is this whole house an iceberg? And then you’ve got the creepy tentacles coming up from the dark water. You can feel the danger and the sense of fun. Alexandria Neonakis, the artist, absolutely nailed the cover.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m working on a kids’ horror novel about four boys in Colorado who go camping in the woods and compete to tell the scariest ghost story. The loser is expected to sleep alone in a cave where all sorts of terrible things have happened. I’m tentatively calling it The Devil’s Lap.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The one in which Penelope and Miles sneak out of the house in the middle of the night and leave their father behind—maybe forever. They have no idea when, or if, they’re coming back. The scene itself is more suspenseful than sad, but I kept thinking about how their father would feel when he woke up.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I do what every writer says not to do: I revise while I’m writing. Sometimes I work on one sentence for hours. Which sounds really unfun and unproductive, but that’s the way I work. I wish I could be one of those writers whose words just pour out onto the page, but it’s never been like that for me. Never will be.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
If you throw something to me, I catch it. Whether it’s a frisbee or a penny or a pineapple, I’ve got pretty good hands. I’m the Catchman.
Penelope March Is Melting
Author: Jeffrey Michael Ruby
Publishing Date: November 14th, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
One winner will receive a copy of Penelope March Is Melting (Jeffrey Michael Ruby) ~ US Only
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*