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Rob Kent interviews fellow authors, editors, literary agents, and other publishing professionals to discuss the craft and business of producing middle grade and young adult novels. New episode every Saturday. MiddleGradeNinja.com. Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/middle-grade-ninja/support
 
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show series
 
Xiran Jay Zhao and I discuss their new middle grade novel, ZACHARY YING AND THE DRAGON EMPEROR, and the phenomenon of their YouTube channel about Chinese history and media commentary which has more than 425,000 subscribers (as of this recording).We talk about their IRON WIDOW series and its movie possibilities, how they survived the midlist, how wr…
 
Jenna Yoon and I discuss her journey to becoming an author and her debut middle grade novel, LIA PARK AND THE MISSING JEWEL. We talk about why representation matters, how the lack of it inspired her to create Lia Park for her daughters, a terrible experience with a teacher that stopped Jenna from writing a novel sooner, the importance of skin care,…
 
My friend Maurice Broaddus and I discuss his newest novels UNFADEABLE and SWEEP OF STARS. We also chat about some of the older ones, Afrofuturism, using writing to procrastinate from writing, worldbuilding through short stories, grants for writers, writing for video games, Black Panther, British cozy mysteries, running your own writers conference, …
 
Mark Gottlieb and I chat about how he was born into the business of books and how Maxwell Perkins’ love of editing convinced him to become an agent with TRIDENT MEDIA GROUP. We discuss his strategies for finding clients and submitting their work, his passion for making their dreams come true, why it’s important to demystify literary agencies, posit…
 
Jodi Lynn Anderson and I talk about her career as an editor for Harper Collins before becoming a bestselling author as well as her new middle grade series, THIRTEEN WITCHES. We discuss writing in a diary to help make sense of the world, gaining the confidence to write fiction through working in publishing, her lifelong fascination with ghosts, livi…
 
James Riley and I have an in-depth discussion about his writing and plotting process for his new middle grade series, ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME. We talk about writing in fairy tale worlds and the way pop culture knowledge permeates our collective creativity. We also chat about Batman, Star Wars, Alan Moore, working for Disney, the darker side of capit…
 
Ellen Whitfield and I discuss how she went from being a reader to a copyeditor to a book reviewer to a publicist with BOOKS FORWARD. We talk specifically about budget numbers for authors preparing to promote their newest launch, strategies for promoting backlists, entering awards contests, what every author should include in their email signature, …
 
Gregory Maguire and I chat about his career and why he continues to write for children when WICKED is now the fifth longest-running Broadway musical. We discuss writing about depression in animal fables such as in his newest middle grade novel, CRESS WATERCRESS, how a lack of television and a lot of writing set him up for early success, the mystery…
 
Elly Swartz and I discuss her career as an author and her newest novel, DEAR STUDENT. We talk about being an author during the pandemic, her average workday, the advantages of writing yourself letters from your characters, researching psychological issues for character creation, creating curriculum guides, learning from your rejections, a ghost sto…
 
Don Handfield, Joshua Malkin, and I talk about the differences between writing screenplays and collaborating to write a graphic novel, such as their newest, UNIKORN. We talk about acting with Robert Duvall, getting around lawsuits from McDonalds for THE FOUNDER, persevering to make KNIGHTFALL, being a videogame architect, guest staring on SAVED BY …
 
Libby McNamee and I chat about historical fiction and her novels SUZANNA’S MIDNIGHT RIDE: THE GIRL WHO WON THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR, DOLLY MADISON AND THE WAR OF 1812: AMERICA’S FIRST LADY, and her upcoming book about Elizabeth Van Lew. We discuss writing about the past with empathy, distilling history into a fictional narrative, history as a context …
 
Erika Lewis and I discuss Irish mythology, world building in fantasy, and planning a series such as the one kicked off by her new middle grade book, KELCIE MURPHY AND THE ACADEMY FOR THE UNBREAKABLE ARTS. We talk about her collaboration with R.A. Salvatore, her approach to different types of projects from comics to novels to screenplays, the pirate…
 
Leslie Patricelli and I discuss her career writing and illustrating board books and her recent middle grade novels in THE RIZZLERUNK CLUB series, BEST BUDS UNDER FROGS and THE BIG BAD LIES. We talk about her time designing for Microsoft, self-publishing a book in 1993, her approach to illustrating her books for older readers with ink vs painting he…
 
Elana K. Arnold and I talk about the virtue of islands and plotting a mystery without knowing the ending in her newest novel, JUST HARRIET. We also discuss her series, A BOY CALLED BAT, writing about autism, questions of power, theme, the over prioritizing of plot, how to generate more ideas, making readers feel safe without patronizing them, how w…
 
Leslie Connor and I talk about writing your way through imposter syndrome and her process in creating her newest novel, ANYBODY HERE SEEN FRENCHIE? We discuss how she started out as an illustrator who transitioned to being an author, putting your characters through hell, problematic writing, characterization, sentence length, dialect, starting with…
 
Meera Trehan and I discuss writing from the perspective of a mansion in her new book, THE VIEW FROM THE VERY BEST HOUSE IN TOWN. We talk about how she discovered she wanted to write, her journey to becoming a published author, which included joining the SCBWI and getting serious about her approach, as well as the wisdom of STORY by Robert McKee. We…
 
Hugh Howey returns to the show, proving reality is a simulation. We talk about his upcoming picture book CANNIBAL HAIKU as well as the WOOL and BEACON 23 television adaptations and his experiences in writers’ rooms, and touring the sets. He drops tantalizing hints about some other upcoming projects for film and television as well as his new novel, …
 
Lane Heymont and I have a far-ranging discussion about books, movies, publishing, the evil of the Sackler family, the nature of forgiveness, his path from being a literary assistant to founding The Tobias Literary Agency, why it’s crucial for him to be passionate about the projects he represents, why writers should always be writing, moral clauses …
 
Tina Wells and I discuss the first book in her newest series, HONEST JUNE, as well as how she arranged for an exclusive distribution period through Target Stores. We talk about how she founded her first company at age 16 and built a successful career as a marketer before she became a writer. She shares specifics about how this has allowed her to re…
 
Authors Adama Bah, Salvador Gómez-Colón, Freshta Tori Jan, and I discuss their debut novels in the I, WITNESS series. In ACCUSED, Adama Bah recounts being arrested and detained by the FBI under the false accusation that she was a potential suicide bomber. In HURRICANE, Salvador writes about his experience during Hurricane Maria and raising money fo…
 
It’s the fourth mega-sized Middle Grade Ninja clips show, featuring snippets from episodes 101 through 146 that aired in 2021. This episode is so stuffed with incredible content it had to be broken up into TWO PARTSDon't miss PART TWO.New episodes are scheduled to return January 8th.Until then, enjoy this compilation of clips from conversations wit…
 
It’s the fourth mega-sized Middle Grade Ninja clips show, featuring snippets from episodes 101 through 146 that aired in 2021. This episode is so stuffed with incredible content it had to be broken up into TWO PARTSDon't miss PART ONE.New episodes are scheduled to return January 8th.Until then, enjoy this compilation of clips from conversations wit…
 
Authors Seanan McGuire, Mira Grant, A. Deborah Baker, and I discuss how they’re all Seanan McGuire and how she transitions between genres and intended age groups. We discuss her years as a standup comedian and how she transitioned to an award-winning author, her love of dice and My Little Ponies, her creative process, how she plans a series and kee…
 
Emily Barth Isler and I discuss her childhood as an actress featured on ONE LIFE TO LIVE and elsewhere as well as performing for the Clinton White House, and how she eventually transitioned to the family business of writing, the “safe career choice.” We also talk about her new novel, AFTERMATH, how to process trauma through writing, how to take act…
 
Aura Lewis and I discuss the process of writing and illustrating her newest book, SPECTACULAR SISTERS: AMAZING STORIES OF SISTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. We talk about how she went from being a freelance artist to working in publishing, the role her MFA played in that transition, designing the credit sequence for the Hulu Show MRS. AMERICA, the impo…
 
Alda P. Dobbs and I discuss writing about the Mexican Revolution as well as her own family’s history in her new novel, BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA, and then translating that story into a second language. We talk about how Alda gained confidence as a writer, the advice she received from Avi, how she applied for grants and became “hardheaded,” foun…
 
Michelle Jabès Corpora, Samantha M. Clark, and I discuss their new series AMERICAN HORSE TALES. We talk about Michelle's experience as an editor for Harper Collins, a concept developer, and a ghostwriter, as well as Samantha's experience as a journalist, a managing editor, and the regional advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children's…
 
David Neilsen and I discuss the advantages of traditional publishing and independent publishing and why he transitioned to a hybrid author with his newest release, LILLIAN LOVECRAFT AND THE HARMLESS HORRORS. We also talk about his time as a screenwriter, how he narrated his own audiobooks, book marketing, hosting murder mystery parties, leading gho…
 
The Speed City Sisters in Crime return to the scene of the… podcast? Returning for their first appearance since episode 79, they’ve just released a new anthology, TRICK OR TREATS: TALES OF ALL HALLOWS EVE. I sit down with authors Ross Carley, Diana Catt, Mary Ann Koontz, Elizabeth Perona, Tony Perona, Karen Phillips, and Elizabeth A. San Miguel, to…
 
Diana Rodriguez Wallach and I discuss cults, demonic possession, and writing YA horror in her new novel, SMALL TOWN MONSTERS. It’s a Halloween-themed episode, so we talk about Ed and Lorraine Warren, Stephen King, and that time Diana lived in a haunted house. Writing occasionally comes up as well, so we also discuss her journey through multiple lit…
 
My friend, Sarah J. Schmitt, and I discuss her path to publishing IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH her newest novel, WHERE THERE’S A WHISK, and why you should never give anyone else power over your art. She shares how she found her editor on Twitter, how she secured her literary agent, and how she survived the collapse of her publisher. We also chat about au…
 
Gayle Forman and I discuss her career from a journalist for SEVENTEEN to a celebrated YA novelist and the launch of her first MG book, FRANKIE AND BUG. She describes the experience of having IF I STAY adapted into a film and tells an excellent ghost story. We chat about WE ARE INEVITABLE, writing to get out of poverty, how there is no promised land…
 
Two-time Newberry Award winner and one of my childhood heroes, Katherine Patterson, and I discuss how she transformed from a “mediocre writer” to a Living Legend (so designated by the Library of Congress in 2000). We chat about her newest novel, BIRDIE’S BARGAIN, how Hollywood demanded a sequel to BRIDGE TO TERABETHIA, the time she kissed Robert Pa…
 
Rajani LaRocca and I discuss the importance of finding a community of writers and how that led her to publication, as well as her newest novel, MUCH ADO ABOUT BASEBALL. We talk about the “slight fairytale” that led her to finding her literary agent, her time as a pitch wars mentor, plantsing, coordinating publicity and school visits (even during a …
 
Jessica Vitalis and I chat about her debut novel, THE WOLF’S CURSE. And we have a detailed discussion about the six-figure, two-book deal her agent, Sara Crowe, negotiated for her. We also talk about how Erin Entrada Kelley fell in love with Jessica’s book and helped her secure that vital representation. And we chat about the time Jessica was visit…
 
Becky LeJeune and I chat about how she went from being a criminal justice major while working in a Walden Books to an editor and now a literary agent with the Bond Literary Agency. We talk about how she evaluates manuscripts, why you don’t want to convince an agent to represent a genre they’re not currently selling in, advice about finding comp tit…
 
Sara Pennypacker and I discuss tips for writing from the perspective of a fox in her long-anticipated sequel to the classic novel PAX, PAX: JOURNEY HOME. We chat about how she interviews animals and how she addresses darker subjects such as the full cost of war in children’s literature. We also talk about the novelization of SHARK TALE, how focusin…
 
Chris Negron and I discuss how he became an author, how his Parkinson’s disease makes him a better writer, and his newest book, THE LAST SUPER CHEF. We wonder if writers ever actually retire and how learning alternate titles of great works might forever change them. We chat about choosing an audiobook narrator, the Atlanta writers club, UFO disclos…
 
Marie Lamba and I discuss her terrible experience with her own novel that led her to become an agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency for the past decade. We talk about the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing, each of us sharing our tales. We also chat about the pandemic’s effect on publishing (and its future effects), an age…
 
John David Anderson and I talk about a little bit of everything in this far-ranging conversation between two Hoosier authors who like STAR WARS and Kurt Vonnegut. We chat about Anderson’s newest novel, STOWAWAY, as well as his classic, MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY. Also discussed: writing two novels a year, leaving your heart on the page, space pirates, co…
 
To commemorate the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Kathleen Burkinshaw and I discuss her novel, THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM. This is one of the most important conversations I’ve ever had and I’ll be thinking about it for the rest of my life. Parts of it broke my heart and may break yours as well. You will hear my most awkward, deflecting …
 
Alyson Gerber and I discuss how to talk about food and diet for teens and creating sympathetic parent characters in her newest YA novel, TAKING UP SPACE. We also chat about how her ADHD is helpful to her as an author, the benefits of a background in acting, her writing workday, how wearing a back brace as a teen helped prepare her for the pandemic,…
 
Melissa Hope and I discuss her popular YouTube channel for authors, HOPEFUL HAPPENINGS, and how it paved the way to publish her debut novel, SEA OF KINGS. We chat about how she taught herself to write, collaborating with her marine biologist husband, working with Jolly Fish Press, finding beta readers, scheduling time to read while raising three ki…
 
Nicole Kornher-Stace and I discuss classic science fiction and her new middle grade novel, JILLIAN VS PARASITE PLANET. We also talk about the importance of portraying platonic friendships and not just romantic relationships in fiction, parasites, parenting, homeschool during a pandemic, anxiety, big dumb action movies as inspiration, video games, t…
 
Ali Standish and I discuss her writer’s journey, which included an MFA in children's writing from Hollins University and an MPhil in Children's Literature from the University of Cambridge, as well as working in the same building as her future literary agent (and sitting in her chair). We talk about Ali’s newest novel, THE MENDING SUMMER, writing an…
 
Erin Entrada Kelly and I chat about her writing habits and how she learned to focus on what her creative spirit wants her to do. We discuss how she won a Newberry Award and immediately quit her day job, as well as her newest middle grade novel, MAYBE, MAYBE MARISOL RAINEY. We talk about how she always remembers an affinity for the characters and th…
 
Mary C. Moore and I discuss her career from zookeeper to literary agent with Kimberly Cameron and Associates, as well as the types of projects and clients she’s looking to represent. We talk about the difference between a large agency and a smaller one, the ways in which she evaluates manuscripts and authors, the support she provides writers both d…
 
Jasmine Warga and I discuss her newest novel, THE SHAPE OF THUNDER, as well as gun violence in schools and mental health in youth. We also talk about her process of pantsing and revising to find her stories, how storytelling rekindled her love of science, how she overcame her habit of hoping between stories, how she learned to make time for writing…
 
Sailaja N. Joshi, Amy Maranville, Payal Doshi, and I discuss Mango + Marigold Press and their newest release, REA AND THE BLOOD OF THE NECTAR. We talk about the cycle of their book from submission to acquisition, editing and revising, marketing and promotion, all the way to its launch and beyond. We discuss the importance of increasing diversity in…
 
Robert Beatty and I discuss his many successes in life as a CEO and a writer, as well as his newest novel, WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW. We chat about his working with Amy Adams on the upcoming WILLA OF THE WOOD television show and the process that led to the publication of SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK. We talk about how writing is a skill and how he learn…
 
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