Author Chat with Joanne Rossmassler Fritz (Everywhere Blue), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Joanne Rossmassler Fritz author of
Read on for more about Joanne, her book, plus an giveaway!
Meet Joanne Rossmassler Fritz!
Joanne Rossmassler Fritz is a poet and a member of SCBWI. She developed her love of children's books by working at a school library, the independent bookstore Chester County Book and Music Company, and at a publishing company. She and her husband live outside West Chester, Pennsylvania. This is her debut novel.
Meet Everywhere Blue!
A brother's disappearance turns one family upside down, revealing painful secrets that threaten the life they've always known.
After twelve-year-old Maddie's older brother vanishes from his college campus, her carefully ordered world falls apart. Nothing will fill the void of her beloved oldest sibling. When her parents fly out to Strum's college to search for answers, Maddie is left in the care of her sixteen-year-old sister, who seeks solace in rebellion and ignores Maddie. Drowning in grief and confusion, the family's musical household falls silent.
Though Maddie is the youngest, she knows Strum better than anyone. He used to confide in her, sharing his fears about the climate crisis and their planet's future. So, Maddie starts looking for clues: Was Strum unhappy? Were the arguments with their dad getting worse? Or could his disappearance have something to do with those endangered butterflies he loved . . .
Scared and on her own, Maddie picks up the pieces of her family's fractured lives. Maybe her parents aren't who she thought they were. Maybe her nervous thoughts and compulsive counting mean she needs help. And maybe finding Strum won't solve everything--but she knows he's out there, and she has to try.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
EVERYWHERE BLUE is a novel I wove together from many different threads. It started years ago with one poem about taking oboe lessons after school, and how much I hated the early darkness in November. But I didn't have a story yet. For me, writing happens as much in my mind as in a document. I can spend months just thinking about the characters and the setting, until more threads appear. In this case, my husband and I were fortunate enough to spend a vacation in St. Maarten in February 2014, and I fell in love with the blue morpho butterflies at The Butterfly Farm on the French side of the island, St. Martin. (Unfortunately, that Butterfly Farm no longer exists, wiped away by the devastating Caribbean hurricanes in September 2017.) I knew I wanted those butterflies in my story. Around the same time, I was reading more about climate change and particularly about polar bears losing their habitat as the Arctic sea ice continued to melt. By then, I knew my main character, and her best friend, and I knew I wanted to mention the climate crisis. But I still didn't have a story because I didn't have a conflict. By the end of 2015 I realized the main conflict was right in front of me. Tragically, my older son’s childhood friend had disappeared the year before. He has never been found. To protect the family’s privacy, I've changed all the details. And I knew for a MG novel there had to be hope, so Maddie never gives up hope that Strum is still alive.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came first. Titles almost always change before a book is published. And it’s the editor and others at the publishing company who come up with the final title. I liked their suggestion, though! In the first draft, I called it Everything In Its Place, later changing it to Blue Morpho, which is what I was calling it when Holiday House made the offer. My wise editor, Sally Morgridge, said that Blue Morpho had a sci-fi connotation, and also that kids might not be familiar with blue morpho butterflies!
YABC: Do you have a favorite writing snack?
Almonds! They're quick and easy and give me a protein boost when I need it. They're also rich in Vitamin E, and considered a brain food. Plus, I like the taste.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Oh, it’s gorgeous! I love all the details! Elena Megalos created a work of art, not just a cover for my book, and I'm thrilled (and flattered!). Probably what I like most about it is the oboe. It’s so realistic.
YABC: What’s on your TBR pile?
As I write this, there are three novels in verse waiting for me: BLOOD, WATER, PAINT by Joy McCullough, THE LAND OF CRANES by Aida Salazar, and ALL OF ME by Chris Baron. Other books on the pile include SO DONE by Paula Chase, TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE by Jay Coles, THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141ST STREET by Karina Yan Glaser, and SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo. I'm also continuing to read ARCs from my fellow 21ders!
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The poem called “Outnumbered” was wrenching for me to write. It didn't appear in early drafts of the novel, but I knew I needed to add a confrontation scene with the family. I kind of sweated through it, putting myself in Maddie’s place, pretending I was hiding halfway up the stairs while everyone else was yelling.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I absolutely adore revision. I could still be tweaking this book, even now, if I were allowed to! Drafting is extremely difficult for me. Starting with a blank Word Document is terrifying! Now I like to begin with a new spiral notebook. I scribble ideas in it, and character sketches, thoughts about the setting or the plot, random sensory images. When I have enough ideas in the notebook, I start writing in a Word document. So I’m not really a plotter or a pantser, although I lean more toward pantsing my way through a first draft. But I have to know, at the very least, the characters and the story idea before I can start that Word document.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation does good work! They seek to raise awareness and promote early detection of brain aneurysms, before they can rupture. After my first brain aneurysm rupture in 2005, I didn't fully understand what had happened to me. Then I discovered the BAF online and read everything I could about brain aneurysms, subarachnoid hemorrhages, and more. Most people don't know that brain aneurysms don't always kill you. One in 50 people are walking around right now with an unruptured brain aneurysm. According to the BAF, ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 50% of cases. Of those who survive, around 66% suffer some permanent neurological deficit. I'm one of the luckiest people alive and so grateful to be here!
YABC: What advice would you give to new writers?
Oh, that’s easy: Never give up! I started writing decades ago in high school, mostly angsty poetry and short stories. When my older son was a baby, I started writing picture books. (He’s now 34!) Then my second son arrived and, with two young children, I didn't make time for myself to write. Writers, make time for yourself! It’s not selfish; it’s necessary. When my kids were older, I started writing again. But I didn't write often enough.
Then, something devastating happened to me -- a brain aneurysm rupture in July 2005. After recuperating, I started taking writing more seriously. In late 2007, I joined SCBWI, learned more about my craft, and tried to write on a regular basis. Over the next eight years, I wrote three MG novels and one YA novel, and tried, without success, to find an agent. Finally, in 2015, I started what would become EVERYWHERE BLUE. I wrote several drafts and attended two Highlights Foundation Workshops on Novels in Verse, one in 2016 and one in 2017. My second brain aneurysm rupture in September 2017 set me back quite a bit. Recuperating from that one has been a long haul. But in 2019, I signed with my agent, Barbara Krasner, and she landed the deal with Holiday House in record time.
Some people would have given up. I didn't give up. If I could do this, you could too.
By: Joanne Rossmassler Fritz
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
Publisher: Holiday House
One winner will receive a copy of Everywhere Blue (Joanne Rossmassler Fritz) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
Great interview. Joanne's advice to never give up is so true if you want to be an author. So excited that she is now a debut author. Can't wait to read her book.