Greetings from New England! Roller Boy, my first middle grade novel with Fitzroy Books, will be released on September 28, 2018. In appreciation for being part of the Regal House Publishing community, I’d like to introduce myself.
When I’m not writing, my other job is working at a public library. I catalog all the new items into our system and also get to choose and purchase all the children’s picture books and fiction. I keep up with a lot of major reviewers through their newsletters and websites. This helps me narrow down my choices. Fortunately, I get to spend a good chunk of my work hours talking with library patrons, either at the main circulation desk or when I cover the reference desk.
Back at home, I sometimes like to handwrite first drafts on my back porch. The sign hanging high states “It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been.” Another feature you might be interested in is the painted sky on the ceiling which took forever to construct and hang. The round rug is grass green. We don’t have heat or A/C on this circular porch, but the windows open wide to let in summer breezes and it’s always an extra special place to create during spring and fall.
Below are two views of the room where I type my manuscripts. My ‘office’ (which we fondly call the library) isn’t always this tidy, but I straightened it up a little for the picture. As much as I attempt to declutter, I do enjoy having special things around me while I work, either in my cozy wingback chair or at the computer. The porch and library are my two favorite writing spots.
My usual method of writing a novel is to write thin and short with a solid beginning and ending. Then I gradually plump up the middle parts. Before I know it, my full story is there and then I turn to the long process of revising and polishing. I usually don’t try to write to the market and I probably don’t look for ‘hooks’ as much as I should, but I do try to find the heart in my stories—that something that might make them memorable to those who feel a connection while reading.
As for inspiration, I’m not sure how the plot and characters arrived for Roller Boy. Mateo as my main character came to me right off, long before the overdue cries for diversity. He happens to be of Mexican and Dominican heritage and he also happens to have celiac disease (being that he can’t eat gluten). But, most of all, he’s just a typical kid living in the city, trying to figure out where he fits in.
Always one to have weak ankles, I’m not very good at skating and really only enjoyed it as a teen. Whether on ice or wood, I was usually the one who kept near the outer railing, just in case. My children were involved with roller-skating for a while, and watching them delight in the sport gave me a good sense of the environment, which later came in handy when writing Roller Boy. Luckily for them, they didn’t inherit my weak ankles. When recent talk of book promotion came up I was challenged to put on a pair of skates. It was terrifying, but I did it… for all of thirty seconds, anyway, just long enough to snap a picture.
Here’s the back cover blurb for Roller Boy:
Mateo always assumed he’d make the baseball team with his buddy Jason, but when only Jason makes the team, his mood sinks low. So low, he knows he has to do something about it. But what? What can he be good at? When Mateo wins free lessons, he discovers he’s pretty good at roller-skating. And it doesn’t hurt that the most beautiful girl he’s ever laid eyes on happens to be Roller City’s star skater. But still, roller skating? No way can Jason find out Mateo is whirling around in girly skates—anybody halfway to cool would be hanging at a skate park, on boards or blades. Other issues stacked against him are the strong reservations of his mother, who feels he should be spending his time studying, not skating, and his inability to eat gluten—no more grabbing a pizza with the guys. Despite these conflicts, Mateo keeps his sense of humor and channels his innermost strength into an incredible ride on roller skates that just might take him all the way to regionals.
I don’t know about you, but I’m counting down the days until Roller Boy rolls off the press!
Marcia Strykowski works at a public library and is a member of SCBWI. She is also the author of Call Me Amy, chosen for Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of 2013 and shortlisted for the Crystal Kite Award, and its sequel Amy’s Choice. Follow Marcia on her blog and on Twitter.