Zelly Fried has finally convinced her parents to let her get a dog, with the help of her grandfather Ace. Unfortunately, said dog (also named Ace) is a shoe-chewing, mud-tracking, floor-peeing kind of dog. Despite Zelly’s best efforts to drag Ace (literally!) to puppy kindergarten, his flunking report card says it all: “This Ace is wild.”
Also wild is the other Ace in Zelly’s life. Grandpa Ace has decided to begin dating again and is dining and dancing every night, against his doctor’s orders. Determined to get both Aces under control, Zelly enlists the help of her two best friends, Allison and Jeremy (despite the fact that they don’t quite see eye to eye). They need to come up with a plan, fast. But how? It’s not like either Ace ever does what he’s told.
Me: Hi Erica! *Waves* Welcome aboard the Mixed-Up Files. Why don’t you tell us what inspired you to write ACES WILD?
Erica: When I wrote WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU O.J., my main inspiration for the character of Ace (the grandpa) was my grandfather, Alan Perl. When I returned to write another book about Ace and Zelly, I immediately thought about what Grandpa Alan did after my grandmother died – he started dating up a storm. I now see that this was how he coped with being lonely and missing her, but at the time it seemed disrespectful to her memory… in addition to being just plain weird! I also knew from experience that getting a puppy creates a new level of household chaos, so I loved the idea of seeing what would happen with a crazy, out-of-control (yet loveable) puppy going head-to-head with a crazy, out-of-control (yet loveable) grandpa. And since Zelly had named her puppy “Ace” at the end of WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU O.J., the title ACES WILD was a perfect fit.
Me: That does sound like quite a perfect fit. Do you have a crazy, out-of-control (yet loveable) writing routine?
Erica: For me, the hardest thing about being a writer is finding time to write. I have a full time job that I love (at www.firstbook.org) but it means I have to find writing time around my work schedule. I do my best writing early in the morning, because my inner censor is not awake yet. So I usually get up, pour myself a cup of coffee and write until I have to stop and go to work, or – on the weekends – my kids get up. If I’m lucky on the weekends or evenings, I find time to come back to what I’m writing and work some more. When I have something ready to edit, I print it out, read it aloud, and edit it longhand. I also carry a notebook and write down ideas and snippets and doodles wherever I go – on the subway, etc. – so later I can perhaps use them in something or see where they take me. And if I’m somehow without my notebook, I use the recording function of my phone to memorialize ideas. That way when I sit down to write, I have stuff to work with.
Me: I get strange looks from neighbors when I use the recording function on my phone. Oops! Did I say that out loud? Soooo…. would you rather be with your main character in a 50 foot well or a football field surrounded by zombies? (I like zombies – it’s kind of an obsession)
Erica: Hmm… tough one. Zombies don’t run very fast, but then again neither does Ace-the-grandpa. And Ace-the-dog would probably try to give the zombies doggie kisses, which is never a good idea. So, I guess I’m going to go with the 50 foot well. If we’re stuck there a long time, Zelly, Ace and Ace will definitely keep me entertained.
Me: Are you crazy? There’s blood-sucking, soul-draining monsters in those wells! All right, maybe you can answer this one correctly. Peanut butter or jelly? Sardines or crackers? Careful. Your life depends on it.
Erica: This one’s easy. Nutella on whole wheat toast.
Me: 50 points! Thanks for the riding the MUF boat today. (Get it, Love boat, MUF boat? Ah…nevermind.)
ERICA S. PERL is the author of When Life Gives You OJ, Vintage Veronica, and a number of picture books, including the well-loved Chicken Butt. A crowd-pleasing presenter to children of all ages, she has also done author visits at schools and libraries across the United States. In addition to writing books, Erica works at First Book, the groundbreaking nonprofit organization that has provided over 70 million brand-new books to children in need. Learn more about Erica and her books at www.EricaPerl.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Amie Borst doesn’t have a crazy, out-of-control anything in her house, but she does write about characters with those traits. Her first book, Cinderskella, co-authored by her middle-grade daughter, Bethanie, debuts October 26th, 2013. You can find her on facebook, twitter and her blog.