Emily Ungar is a graduate of Indiana University, where she majored in journalism. After living in seven different U.S. states by the time she finished college, she now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and very curious twin toddlers. When she isn’t chasing after her twin boys, Emily loves to curl up in a chaise lounge with a book in one hand and a lemon cupcake in the other. Emily loves connecting with her readers, so she welcomes you to say hi on her blog at http://www.emilyungar.com.
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- If you could tell my readers only one thing about yourself, what would you want them to know?
I moved around a lot during my childhood–all across the country, in fact. My constantly mobile childhood shaped who I am as an adult. I used to think that was bad–but now I know it’s actually a good thing. Not only did it broaden my experiences as a child, but it helped shape who I am as a writer.
- Who is your favorite author and why?
My favorite middle grade writer is Louis Sachar (author of HOLES and the Wayside School series). He writes with such a wonderful wit and respect for this age group. HOLES is one of those books that you can reread year after year and you still marvel at how the story is pieced together.
I also love to read women’s fiction. One of my favorite writers is Daphne du Maurier, the author of REBECCA (which was also an Alfred Hitchcock film). Her writing is beautiful without ever being flowery, and she is a master at creating psychological suspense.
- Did that author or another author influence your style, and if so, how?
Louis Sachar is definitely an inspiration to me, especially when writing more humorous middle grade fiction. I also love the Babysitters Club books from the 1980s and 90s.
- How did you connect with Anaiah Press?
Jessica Schmeidler (my editor) and I started chatting after she read a blog post I had written about a Twitter pitch contest I had entered. I ended up querying her with a different project that I hoped might be a good fit for the Adventures imprint. Jessica ended up requesting a full manuscript (which made me so excited!) and later on that month offered me a publishing contract for the book. I was so excited! I knew based on Jessica’s enthusiasm for the project that Anaiah Press was the right home for my book. A writer dreams of that editor who really connects with their work, and I feel so blessed to have found that with Jessica and with Anaiah Press.
- Was the editing process more or less difficult than you expected?
Here’s the funny part: I’m a professional copyeditor. I edit nonfiction projects during the day as part of my job. I knew there would be a few things that needed to be fixed. I was shocked when I received my first round of edits and saw how thorough Jessica had been with editing! The suggestions were terrific, and I learned more about style and grammar in that one round of editing than I had in many of my college classes! After we got through that one big editing round, the following rounds were a bit smoother and quicker.
- What advice would you give to new writers?
Don’t ever give up. Ever! Let me repeat that: don’t ever give up! There is a saying out there that the successful writers are the writers who just never gave up. And it’s true. Querying your writing out to editors and agents is in itself a natural-selection process for which writers are truly the most dedicated to their craft and the road to publication. While it’s okay to work on different projects and even set some aside for a time, it’s never okay to give up writing entirely. Find a mentor to coach you through those tough times when rejection letters get you down, but keep on walking down the road. Just improve a little bit with each setback. Learn something every time to give you a bigger edge the next time.
- What’s next after Liberty Belle? Can we expect further adventures for Savannah, or something else?
I think Savannah has quite a few tales left to tell. She’s definitely found her place at her new school, but next year Savannah will be moving with her classmates to a new middle school. Anything is possible. And bless her heart, Savannah can’t keep herself out of trouble for long.
About the book:
On the same day she turns twelve years old, Savannah moves away from everything she’s known in sweet, sunny Georgia to preppy Washington D.C. Not only will she miss her best friends Katie and Tessa, Savannah will start a new school. She soon discovers that her schoolmates love to brag—about their clothes, their parents’ governmental connections, and even who has the in with the school authorities.
Unhappy and lonely, Savannah decides if she can’t make life better, she can at least make it sound that way. Soon she is living in the childhood home of George Washington, riding in the limo of the vice president’s daughter, and even moving into the former Luxembourg embassy.
All is well until she learns that her true friends from Georgia are coming for a visit. Now Savannah must create the life she’s been talking about in her letters—and fast! Will Savannah find herself or lose her friends?
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