Thursday, September 27, 2018

Interview with Author Cindy Callaghan

Just Add Magic: Potion Problems

1.      What inspired you to write Just Add Magic: Potion Problems?
The original Just Add Magic book was written to be the first of a series… I wasn’t sure how many more at the time.  At the end of the first book, which came out in 2010, there are lose ends that aren’t tied up.  The girls, Kelly, Darbie and Hannah, still have unanswered questions.  Just Add Magic 2: Potion Problems was outlined in great detail nearly ten years ago.  It wasn’t until the book was contracted for publication that I actually wrote it.  It was so great to spend time with these characters again.  It felt like a reunion.

2.      Who is your targeted reader - - and why will they choose your books out of so many competing titles? 
I write “stuff tween girls want to read.” My books are good, clean, fun.  Loved by kids and their parents and teachers.  My books are page-turning, fast-paced adventures.  Nothing too heavy.  A little mystery and a lot of laughs.  I don’t think that many MG books for girls are squarely in that same space.

3.      What are some of the strong themes shared in your books?
All of my books are about tween friendships and tests of those friendships that are realistic to the current tween experience.  Well, I suppose we never outgrow tests of friendships.  The Lost In books as well as Sydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead have “fish out of water” themes.  I really like “city mouse/country mouse.”

4.      The Amazon series of Just Add Magic has been hugely successful. What do you find viewers love about the show?
Readers love finding the girls they’ve read about on the small screen and watching their adventures continue.  For those who haven’t been exposed to the books, they’re getting to know the gang on the screen, and many then want to read about them.  I love that the show entices kids to read.  As a society, we need to keep our tweens reading.  The show Just Add Magic does this.

5.      What is important to keep in mind when writing for the tween market?
I think the most critical challenge writing for tweens today is competition with social media.  Tweens today, like adults, are always consuming “snackable bites” of information.  I believe this has changed our abilities to concentrate for long periods of time. This makes pacing more important than ever.  Today, a good tween novel needs to be paced very fast to maintain interest.

6.      What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Three words:  Butt.  In.  Chair. 
Writers come to me often with great book ideas.  Rarely has someone actually written it.  Many writers spend more time talking about writing and reading about writing than they do actually writing.  I point out the obvious, “If you don’t write it, it won’t get written.”  And that involves a lot of “butt in chair” time.  Not great for physical fitness, but it gets words on the page.

7.      What’s next for you?
My ninth MG project comes out next summer:  Saltwater Secrets, which I explain as “Big Little Lies for tweens.”  It’s so good!  I’m really excited for it to hit shelves in 2019.

In addition to that, I’m always working on lots of projects.  I’m actively pitching live-action concepts to studios with some nice interest, which is really exciting.  I’m working on a new MG series targeting boys.  And I have a YA project that I’m really into that I hope will generate interest and help me diversify.  And so much more…

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

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