A chat with Michele Corriel

Please welcome Michele Corriel, author of Fairview Felines!
Thomas Weston has newspaper ink in his veins. Not only that but he also has funny headlines running through his brain 24/7. If he can convince the principal at Fairview Middle School he has what it takes, maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to make his dream of a school newspaper come true. But first he has to figure out why all the cats in Fairview are vanishing!
Many readers will identify with Thomas’ determination to be a good journalist, despite not being a star student. Tell us about a time when you succeeded against the odds.

Sometimes I feel like everything I do is against the odds! When I wanted to go college my parents wouldn’t co-sign my student loan. So instead of going straight to school I got a job and then traveled around Europe for a couple of years. By the time I was ready to go back to college I decided I’d try for every scholarship I could find. I sent out 72 letters to different private funding sources and one answered. They paid for my almost all of my tuition for the next four years.

I loved reading about the small newspaper office where Thomas helps his mother, the editor. How do you think journalism is changing in the electronic era?

This one is almost a spoiler! The third book in the series deals with Thomas and a blogger. Seriously, I think there is a danger with people mixing up blogs with news. Anyone can write anything online, but in a newspaper article there has to be at least three sources for a story.

The immediacy of electronic media also seems to be somewhat addicting. By that I mean people want news and they want it now. Headlines matter. But it may not be the whole story – and some people don’t seem to care about the more in-depth, investigative stories.

You have a background in nonfiction. What inspired you to write Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery?

People always say to write what you know. And I know newspapers. Actually I love newspapers. I’m a total news junky. Since I’d worked at a newspaper just like The County Journal I’d always thought it would make a perfect setting for a mystery.

I don’t think there are enough mysteries for middle-grade readers. What are the unique challenges when it comes to writing a good mystery?

First of all you need to write it backwards. Not literally, that would be very hard! But you need to know who dunnit before you write the first chapter. This way you can work in all the “red herrings” as you develop the story lines and the characters. Which brings me the next challenge of writing a mystery – you can’t make it obvious or no one will read the book to the end.

Can you recommend other good mysteries for fans of Fairview Felines?

Really, almost all good books have some kind of mystery in them. My favorites? Holes, by Louis Sacher; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon; Funerals and Fly Fishing, by Mary Bartek; Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliet; The Sammy Keyes mysteries by Wendelin Van Draanen; and of course all the Sherlock Holmes books!

Finally, I loved all the funny headlines sprinkled throughout the novel. Will you write a few headlines to describe:

 Your writing process:

WRITER DANGLES BY THE SEAT OF HER PANTS TRYING TO TIE UP ENDING.

Your work space:

ARCHELOGIST DISCOVERS NOTES AND A DOZEN ‘TO-DO’ LISTS ON AUTHOR’S DESK DURING HISTORICAL DIG.

Your favorite food:

INDIAN RESTAURANT RUNS OUT OF TANDORI CHICKEN, NAAN, AND CHUTNEY WHENEVER AUTHOR VISITS.

Your cats:

POLICE CALLED FOR MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT RUCKUS; CATS CHASE TOILET PAPER ALL OVER HOME

 Your favorite hobby:

WOMAN GETS INTO WORLD BOOK OF RECORDS FOR HOLE IN ONE WHILE STANDING IN TREE POSE AND READING A BOOK.

Michele Corriel lives in Montana, where she writes and herds cats on a daily basis. She is also the author of Weird Rocks, a non-fiction picture picture book about the strange and wonderful world of rocks. To read more about Michele see her website www.michelecorriel.com

 

Please leave a comment to win a copy of Michele Corriel’s novel Fairview Felines 

Sydney Salter writes best with a cat or two napping on her desk. www.sydneysalter.com

 

 

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