Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Michele Weber Hurwitz to the blog and revealing the trailer of her upcoming novel, The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days. We also have an interview and an awesome giveaway for you guys, so after reading the interview and checking out The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days be sure to scroll down and enter!
1. How would you describe The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days to those who haven't heard of it yet?
The summer before high school, 13-year old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died a year ago, her super-lawyer parents are obsessed with the biggest case of their careers, and her brother -- about to leave for college -- has become distant. Plus, she's feeling the sting of growing apart from her best friend. Her close-knit cul-de-sac neighborhood has changed, too -- no one even comes outside anymore. Partly because of her eighth-grade history teacher's send-off advice, Nina brainstorms a plan to do 65 anonymous good things -- one each day of her summer vacation -- to find out if her small acts can make a difference. But people react in ways she didn't imagine, and things get a little chaotic and messed-up.
2. Could you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your book?
There were many threads I was thinking about that I wove together. First, we hear so much about paying it forward and random acts of kindness, but sometimes the amount of problems in our world overwhelms me, and I wondered -- does doing good really do any good? Does it make a difference? Second, a friend told me about how she stood in front of a mall entrance one day in December a few years ago and tried to hand out ten dollar bills to random people. But many thought she was selling something or had a hidden motive. That stuck with me. I thought, wow, how do people really react when random good is thrust upon them? Third, I worried about how technology has altered family life and neighborhoods, and how we live in this era of a sort of "disconnected connection." Lastly, I read about a class at the University of Iowa where the professor had students write down each day three positive events or experiences -- no matter how big or small -- and how this changed their perspectives. I started doing that too. We tend to focus on the negative, or what goes wrong, instead of recognizing small, good things that go right every day.
3. Nina, the lead protagonist in your novel, sounds like a wonderful, sweet and thoughtful girl. For those of us excited to meet her, could you tell us a bit more about her?
Nina is an old soul. She's very observant and perceptive. And she's got this heartfelt sense of humor. She's searching, wanting things to be better. I love her optimism that's coupled with a bit of sarcasm and raw emotion.
4. Is there a scene in The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days that you consider your favorite one?
There are so many scenes I love, it's hard to choose. There's one scene early on where a older neighbor calls the police after Nina has started doing some of her good things. That scene in particular strikes me as so funny, because the woman is suspicious and thinks "someone" has been trespassing in their neighborhood. The older woman character -- Mrs. Millman -- continues to grow more and more hysterical (in both senses of the word) through the book.
I also adore Thomas, a five-year old boy who is never without his cape and trusty plastic sword. There are several scenes involving his interpretation of "evil" in the neighborhood that make me laugh and tear up at the same time.
5. Can you share with us a few of your favorite quotes from The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days?
It can be hard to understand quotes out of context, but in the first chapter, Nina is thinking about how her family has become detached, and she describes their backyard furniture as a "love seat that needs love." In a nutshell, that quote portrays so perfectly what's going on with her family. And in the fourth chapter, Thomas finds a good luck penny and tells Nina he will get the "crinimals" in the neighborhood because "I have a magic coin!" I love this quote because his little boy enthusiasm and innocence is so strong and believable.
6. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I think it's just to look to small good things being much bigger than they seem. It doesn't have to be about raising tons of money or spending a Saturday cleaning up a park (although those things are certainly wonderful). But more just about being a good person. Cliché, I know, but ask kids or teens what they like best about their teachers. Invariably, they'll say: "she's nice." Ask yourself what stuck with you from your day. Maybe someone held a door open for you, or shared tomatoes from their garden, or made you laugh.
7. What are some of your literary inspirations? Favorite books/authors?
There are so many talented authors whose books I love, including John Green (of course, who doesn't?), Rainbow Rowell, Sarah Weeks, Linda Urban, Rebecca Stead, Jennifer Holm, Sara Zarr, and Gabrielle Zevin. I admit I'm not a big fantasy/dystopian fiction reader so that whole trend just sort of passed me by.
8. What is your favorite part about being an author?
I think it's the variety. Every day is different. One day I could be visiting a school, the next, working on edits, and another day, answering interview questions! And, that I can create something. I'm constantly turning over ideas in my head for potential characters, dialogue, scenes. My family is used to my zoning-out moments at dinner.
9. Are you working on a new book/series now? If so, when can we expect it? Can you share some juicy details to keep our appetites going?
After writing two books in the voices of girl main characters, I wanted to write in a boy's voice. I always ask myself a question when I start a book, and this time, I wondered if getting in trouble in school can sometimes be a good thing. The story I'm finishing up right now is about a junior high age boy who unintentionally gets into trouble that sparks a school-wide revolution. After that, I want to write about girl friendship, the once in a lifetime soul-mate kind of friendship.
10. What books are on your 2014 to-be-read pile?
I read mostly contemporary, realistic fiction because that's what I write. I've been going back and forth between older middle grade and YA. I had a lot of down time over the holidays so I went through much of my to-read pile, including Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series, John Green's "Looking for Alaska" and Rainbow Rowell's "Eleanor & Park." I am ashamed to admit I have not yet read "The Fault in Our Stars," so that is definitely on my to-read list, as well as "The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight," by Jennifer E. Smith, "The Center of Everything," by Linda Urban, and "Roomies," by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.
1 copy of The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days US only
Ends: January 30th 2014
Enter via Rafflecopter below:a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the book:
Author: Michele Weber Hurwitz
Pub. Date: April 8th 2014
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Find it: Goodreads |Amazon | Barnes & Noble
It's summertime, and thirteen-year-old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died last year; her parents work all the time; her brother's busy; and her best friend is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn't know what "her thing" is yet, it's definitely not shopping and makeup. And it's not boys, either. Though . . . has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute?
This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are sixty-five days of summer. Every day, she'll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that her neighborhood, and her family, are full of surprises and secrets.
In this bighearted, sweetly romantic novel, things may not turn out exactly as Nina expects. They might be better..
About the author:
Author of The Summer I Saved the World...in 65 Days, a novel for ages 10 and up (April 8, 2014), Wendy Lamb Books/Random House); and Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House 2011), a middle grade novel which is nominated for a 2014 Bluestem Award and was named a Best Book by the Bank Street College of Education.