The biggest mystery Julie Artz unraveled as a young girl was how to properly pronounce the word “spaghetti” and she never, EVER, would have run away with her stinky little brother…Eww! But she did spend a lot of time writing stories, mainly about girls who fought all sorts of parental and peer injustice before reaching the pinnacle of ten-year-old existence: riding off into the sunset on a pony of her very own. Now her middle-grade stories contain both a magical bent and more sympathetic parents. Learn more about Julie on her blog, TerminalVerbosity (www.terminalverbosity.com), or connect with her on Twitter (@JulieArtz).
Unlike Claudia, Patricia Bailey’s talents do not include the ability to plan long or well, which may be why she’s never managed to run away to anywhere as cool as New York City. Instead, she’s stayed in Southern Oregon, where she lives with her husband and three cats. She spends her time wandering the countryside, making up stories, and wishing she had a dog – much like she did when she was eleven. Her debut novel, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN, will be released in April 2017. Visit her at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com.
Amie Borst could never fit enough chocolate in one violin case to last her a whole week, let alone one day. When she’s not eating chocolate, she’s busy writing with her three daughters. She lives in northern Virginia soaking up the sun and walking through cemeteries plotting her next idea. To learn more about Amie, visit her website, www.amieborst.com.
Like Claudia, Jenn Brisendine has been known to correct an unintentional grammar slip-up or two…especially in her recent role as a middle school language arts teacher. Jenn has also taught literature, writing, and theatre in her adventures in the classroom; this quest, like the Kincaid children’s, has had some surprising turnabouts. For example, the teacher ended up learning quite a bit from her 5th and 6th grade students; they taught her what makes a great middle grade novel—from a modern-day-kid-reader point of view. Jenn is grateful for this education, as she writes middle grade historicals with twists of mystery and magic. You can connect with her at jennbrisendine.com and on Twitter.
Dori Hillestad Butler always felt like she and Claudia were kindred spirits, except Dori didn’t want to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; she wanted to live in a library. When she was in high school, she worked in the library. She liked to stay after closing and write in the library by herself…until she got caught. Today she still likes to write in libraries, but she usually does it when the library is open. She is the author of more than 40 books for children, including the Edgar award winning Buddy Files series and her recently released Haunted Library series. To learn more, visit www.kidswriter.com.
Heather Murphy Capps has always had a deep appreciation for comfort and elegance. She and Claudia would have run out of money quickly together but would absolutely have been on the same page about taxis and nice restaurants. And of course, solving mysteries about beautiful art. That said, Heather also appreciates Jamie’s love of complication, which is why she spent several years living in rural Kenya and then became a television news reporter, which involved standing for hours in the middle of hurricanes and political battles. Now she’s raising middle grade readers and writing for them. She loves to read and write books with lots of great science, magic, mystery, and adventure. Heather is an #ownvoices author and committed to creating more diversity in publishing.
Dorian Cirrone ran away from home once but only got to the end of the driveway—probably because there was no place as cool as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in south Florida. Dorian still lives in Florida and writes for children and teens. Her middle grade novel THE FIRST LAST DAY (S&S/Aladdin, June 2016) is about a girl who gets caught in a time loop on the New Jersey shore. Dorian is also the author of two chapter books featuring investigative journalist Lindy Blues (THE MISSING SILVER DOLLAR and THE BIG SCOOP) as well as two young adult novels (DANCING IN RED SHOES WILL KILL YOU and PROM KINGS AND DRAMA QUEENS), short stories, and poems. Visit her at www.doriancirrone.com to learn more about these books and more.
Sue Cowing once spent the night locked in a public library, but in the bathroom wing where she couldn’t reach the books! Naturally, she made good use of the time drafting a new novel on paper towels. . .not. Her debut novel YOU WILL CALL ME DROG was published by Carolrhoda Books in 2011 and appeared in paperback from Usborne UK in April, 2014. Visit her (and the puppet Drog) at www.suecowing.com.
Sean Easley never could quite get it right. He spent his middle school years locking himself in lockers, giving the wrong girls teddy bears like a dork, and almost getting his eye knocked out in the halls at school. And here’s a secret… even though he managed to get a masters degree in education and spent over a decade counseling students, he never quite grew out of messing things up. Now Sean writes crazy, mixed-up stories about crazy, mixed-up kids who, like him, just can’t quite get it right. His middle grade debut THE HOTEL BETWEEN HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE is coming from Simon & Schuster in 2018. Until then, you can find him making mistakes at seaneasley.com, as well as on Twitter (@authoreasley) and Instagram (also @authoreasley).
As the oldest of four children, Laurie J. Edwards planned to run away when she was nine. She didn’t get far before she realized she’d miss her pet parakeet, so she slept on the back patio. That wasn’t the only time sheslept on concrete. Later in life, she spent a winter night on a sidewalk in Marseilles, France, sharing a heating grate with a homeless person. Her love of travel has led to many interesting adventures, including stepping on a lizard in Africa, climbing a Korean mountain in flip-flops, strolling the streets of Venice in a cat costume, and eating deep-fried water beetles (yum!) in China. You can find out more about her and her books at her blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Greg R. Fishbone writes galactic fiction from the parlor of a two-hundred year old antique home. He is the author of the Galaxy Games series, combining sports, science fiction, video games, and the end of the world. Find him at www.gfishbone.com.
Annabelle Fisher decided she would become a writer in fourth grade when, after a lesson on electricity, she wrote the story “Mr. Electron” instead of the science report her teacher was expecting–and got an A+ anyway! She is the author of THE SECRET DESTINY OF PIXIE PIPER, which reviewers have called, “entertaining,” “fresh,” “creative,” and “pretty darn charming.” A sequel, PIXIE PIPER AND THE MATTER OF THE BATTER, will be released in May 2017. Annabelle has been a professor of middle grade and young adult literature at Manhattanville College, and has taught writing workshops for kids and adults at her favorite indie bookstore, The Voracious Reader. With her husband and their giant golden doodle Ozzie, she lives in Westchester County, New York, just a short drive from The Metropolitan Museum, where she often goes for inspiration. Visit Annabelle at her website.
Growing up in small town Oklahoma, Louise Galveston often dreamed of being locked overnight in the town library. Although her wish never came true, she does spend an immense amount of time with books. Now a proud Kansan, Louise balances out her love of writing funny, gross boy stories by reading copious amounts of Austen and Dickens. She is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD and its sequel, IN TODD WE TRUST (Razorbill/Penguin). www.bythegraceoftodd.com When she’s not shuffling through the mixed-up files on her messy writing desk, you’ll find Louise directing children’s theater, playing games with her big family, or up to her eyeballs in laundry.
When Robyn Gioia was a girl, she kept sneaking away to the Ohio State Museum to study the Egyptian mummy and the rock collection. It’s no wonder she grew up to be a teacher. Later, she ventured overseas to work in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Puerto Rico, and South Korea. During a relocation to England, an eclectic group of writers took her in and taught her the craft of storytelling. She’s has lived in the magical world of fiction and writing ever since. Visit her at her website.
Mike Hays is from Kansas and is a tried and true flatlander by birth. He would most assuredly be obsessed with a statue of mysterious origins, especially if he could buy said statue on the cheap. He has worked as a molecular microbiologist for over 25 years, has coached high school sports, and writes middle-grade books. He writes from a boy point of view and hopes to spread his particular style of stupid-funny inspiration through his books, blogs and social media. His upper middle-grade historical fiction novel, THE YOUNGER DAYS, is about a family’s survival in the fallout from the violent Border War over “Bloody” Kansas. You can find him at his sportsy blog, www.coachhays.com, or at his writerly blog, www.mikehaysbooks.wordpress.com.
Hillary Homzie is the author of the tween novels, THE HOT LIST (S&S 2011) and THINGS ARE GONNA GET UGLY, as well as the comedic chapter book series ALIEN CLONES FROM OUTER SPACE, which is being made into an animated television series. She has also been privately coaching both published authors and aspiring authors for nine years, and during the summers teaches in the graduate program in children’s writing at Hollins University. A former sketch comedy performer in NYC, Hillary currently lives with her family in Northern California. Please visit www.hillaryhomzie.com.
While in high school, Jacqueline Houtman touched one of Michelangelo’s Slave sculptures in the Louvre Museum and got a stern look from a guard. After her reckless art-touching youth, she earned a PhD in medical microbiology. These days she writes about science for adults and children. She is a coauthor of the middle-grade biography, BAYARD RUSTIN: THE INVISIBLE ACTIVIST (Quaker Press 2014). Her middle-grade novel, THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS (Boyds Mills Press 2010) is an example of what she calls “sciency fiction,” where real science is integral to the story. She and her engineer husband live in Wisconsin, where they conduct research in the form of two sciency kids. Visit her at www.jhoutman.com.
Michelle Houts is a collector of small gadgets and trinkets. She has drawers of old watch faces and broken china, lost keys, and lonely earrings. If she can’t discover the story behind a found object, she makes one up. Michelle writes in an old one-room schoolhouse on a farm in western Ohio. She’s the author of four books for middle graders, including THE BEEF PRINCESS OF PRACTICAL COUNTY, WINTERFROST, and KAMMIE ON FIRST: BASEBALL’S DOTTIE KAMENSHEK as well as picture books and chapter books. She’s the creator of the 52 Letters in a Year Project and the Mark Boney Promise, both of which you can read about at www.michellehouts.com.
When Michele Weber Hurwitz was 10, she ran away from home with her 5-year-old brother. They made it to the end of the block. Now she journeys a little farther — her best writing ideas come on long walks in her tree-filled neighborhood. She lives in the Chicago area with her family. Michele is the author of three middle grade novels, THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD…IN 65 DAYS (Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin Random House 2014), CALLI BE GOLD (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House 2011), and ETHAN MARCUS STANDS UP (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Books, August 2017).When she’s not writing or walking, Michele can usually be found anywhere in the vicinity of chocolate. Visit www.micheleweberhurwitz.com.
T. P. Jagger once stole a coin from a fountain, but his mom made him put it back. He then decided not to be a criminal and became a teacher instead. After working many years as an elementary teacher and reading specialist, T. P. now stays home and writes a lot, washes his kids’ dirty socks, and teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University even though he actually lives in the state of Washington. His writing is geared toward middle-grade boys because that’s what the voice of the 10-year-old trapped in his head keeps telling him to write. He is not a ninja. Visit him at www.tpjagger.com.
Evolutionary biologist-turned-author Amber J. Keyser thinks it would be wonderful to take a bath in a fountain full of coins. She also thinks it is wonderful to write books for young readers. They are, after all, the very best people! Amber cowrites the middle grade series, QUARTZ CREEK RANCH, with Kiersi Burkhart, and she’s the author of the nonfiction book SNEAKER CENTURY: A HISTORY OF ATHLETIC SHOES. When Amber isn’t doing research or writing, she’s riding horses, planning a wilderness adventure with her family, or trail running with her dog. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. More information about Amber (including her books for teens) is at www.amberjkeyser.com.
As a little girl, S.A. Larsen believed her closet held secret passageways to magical worlds brimming with all sorts of creepy creatures – her favorite kind. Sheri never did find a ghoul or a goblin in her closet, only a half-eaten fluffernutter that her brother repurposed as a hockey puck. Her debut middle-grade novel MOTLEY EDUCATION (Leap Books, 2016) is the first book in this fantasy-adventure series. She’s written young adult stories found in GEARS OF BRASS and UNDER A BRASS MOON (Curiosity Quills, 2014/2016), community interest pieces (local publications), youth athlete articles (Martial Arts Magazine), and MARKED BEAUTY her debut YA novel (Elysian Press, 2017). When she’s not chasing her characters around a cemetery or antagonizing them with the wonders of young love, she can be found in the land of lobsters and snowy winters with her husband and four children (yes, they all play hockey), a playful pooch, and two kittens. Feel free to drop by her cyber home at www.salarsenbooks.com.
Kimberley Griffiths Little’s best ideas come when taking long hot baths, but instead of a sunken black marble tub with gold faucets and a dragon-shaped spigot, she has New Mexico hand-painted tiles in her adobe home along the Rio Grande. Kimberley has several award-winning middle-grade novels with Scholastic: The Healing Spell, Circle of Secrets, When the Butterflies Came, and The Time of the Fireflies, as well as a Young Adult trilogy with Harpercollins. Please visit www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com to download the free guides for teachers and book clubs.
Katharine Manning is a middle grade writer and mom of three. She lives outside Washington, D.C., and so far has only ever stuck her toes into the fountain at the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden. Katharine writes books for girls dreamy enough to believe in dragons, and strong enough to defeat them. Check out her book recommendations for the 5-12 set at www.kidbooklist.com. You can find her on Twitter @SuperKate.
For Beth McMullen running away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a real possibility. After all it was just a train ride away. But there was the problem of her beloved cat, who was not getting in that suitcase for all the treats in the world. So Beth turned her attention to making up stories about more agreeable pets and has been writing ever since. In addition to several books for adults, Beth writes the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series (S&S/Aladdin), the first of which hits the shelves July 4, 2017. Visit her on Twitter or at her website.
Rosanne Parry knows all about hiding in museums, cheating at cards, and having a bossy big sister. She’s the author of the middle-grade novels HEART OF A SHEPHERD, SECOND FIDDLE, WRITTEN IN STONE, and THE TURN OF THE TIDE. She and her family live in an a very old house in Portland, Oregon where they are raising four children, three chickens and five kinds of fruit. You can visit her tree house office at www.rosanneparry.com.
Andrea Pyros was born and raised in New York City, and she’s still sad that she’s never spent the night in any of the city’s museums. Andrea now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and their two children and works as a freelance writer for a variety of publications. She is also the author of MY YEAR OF EPIC ROCK, a middle-grade novel about friends, crushes, and a 7th-grade rock band named The EpiPens. Visit her at www.andreapyros.com or on Twitter @AndreaPyros.
Like Claudia, Natalie Rompella also tried to solve a great mystery–she and her friend attempted to find the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart during 3rd grade recess. Unfortunately, fifteen minutes was not enough time. Now Natalie is grown up and is currently writing her own middle-grade mystery. She is the author of 10 trade books, including her first middle grade novel, COOKIE CUTTERS & SLED RUNNERS, and more than 40 works for the educational market. Natalie lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, two children, and dog muse, Luna. To learn more about her, visit her website.
Jonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny South Florida. He spends his “free” time being a volunteer coach and chauffeur for his three kids. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into. His favorite of all time is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. He currently writes middle-grade, because his sense of humor is stuck in that age. Jonathan proudly represents diversity in books by being half-Mexican and half-American, although neither country is really willing to accept responsibility. His MG debut, Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, is due out August 1, 2017 from SkyPony Press. He can be found at www.HouseofRosen.com.
Julie K. Rubini had dreams of stowing away in the bookmobile that stopped weekly a mile from her childhood home. Her love for reading, writing, libraries and her three children led Julie and her husband to establish Claire’s Day www.clairesday.org in memory and honor of their daughter. Julie is the author of HIDDEN OHIO and middle-grade biographies of amazing writers, including MISSING MILLIE BENSON: THE SECRET CASE OF THE NANCY DREW GHOSTWRITER AND JOURNALIST. Her next works include the life stories of renowned children’s author Virginia Hamilton and USA Today Sports columnist Christine Brennan. To learn more about her journey, visit her website.
If Tricia Springstubb could get locked in somewhere overnight, it would be the zoo! She’d love to see what the animals do after all the humans go home. She is the author of the award-winning WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET and its sequel MO WREN LOST AND FOUND. Her new novel, MOONPENNY ISLAND, and the first book in her new series, CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS, will both publish in 2015. Tricia lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she’s a book critic for the Plain Dealer and has the requisite garden, cats, and love of flannel PJs. Please visit her at www.triciaspringstubb.com.
In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history, in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, THE BEST OF IT: A JOURNAL OF LIFE, LOVE AND DYING, was published in 2009. Her current work focuses on historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is proprietor of Homeostasis Press, and blogs at The Best of It. She manages Gather Here, an online history site for middle grade readers and teachers.
Suma Subramaniam loves to travel and visit historical places and museums like Claudia does in Manhattan. Even though the Metropolitan Museum of Art is only a flight away, Suma prefers to live in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Someday, she hopes to show Claudia how to wear a sari and how to make the classic masala chai. Suma has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Popular Fiction from the University of Washington, and advanced degrees in computer science and management. She works with children globally to promote education. Follow her on Twitter.
Jennifer Swanson dreams of one day running away to the Museum of Science and Industry- then maybe she could look at all the exhibits and try out all the gadgets without competing for them with her kids. An author of twenty nonfiction science books for grades 3-6, Jennifer’s goal is to show kids that Science Rocks! She lives in sunny Florida with her husband, three kids and two dogs. When not writing she’s on the hunt for fun science facts. Learn more about Jennifer and her books at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.
Mindy Alyse Weiss spends so much time writing humorous stories with heart, she usually has a laundry mountain large enough to fill a hundred violin cases. She lives in Florida, and is constantly inspired by her husband, daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades. Visit Mindy’s Twitter, Facebook, or blog to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.