Joanna Quinn, author of Greta Grace tells us about her writing journey and the lessons she wishes to impart from her book.
In partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Emerald Lake Books, join us in this interview and book tour with Joanna Quinn, a former middle school teacher, founder of Super Empowered One, and life coach!
- How did you come up with the story of Greta Grace?
Originally, my idea was to write a picture book. I was in a critiquing class with a very reputable author and she commented that she thought everybody should try their hand at writing a middle grade book. That sounded so intriguing to me because I taught middle school and loved that age group. Ok, truth is I love all age groups but that one held a particularly special place in my heart. There’s just so much going on in their lives at this time. The story of Greta Grace evolved over years. Yes, it did take me years because I did it while raising my kids so there were definitely long spans of time where it sat. However, that ended up being a really good thing because had it not, the story would not be what it is today. I came up with the story because I wanted the experiences in it to be relatable for that age group but I also wanted it to have some “teachable moments,” without actually preaching. Therefore, it became a story that I wove wisdom throughout utilizing the voices of adult characters.
- What do I wish to impart to the readers through the story of Greta Grace?
I want the readers to feel like they have a friend in Greta Grace. The idea is for them to be able to feel what she feels because they can relate to what she is going through. Greta Grace is bullied throughout the story. She handles it in a way that a lot of young people would handle it so it opens up dialogue about that which I think is really important.
I also want them to learn some really life changing lessons that are presented in the story such as, something good comes out of everything, they really are strong, lovable, amazing people and no one can take that away from them, we don’t have to believe our disempowering thoughts, etc…
- How did you choose the characters and the setting for the story?
I chose the characters based on different personalities that I had witnessed while teaching this age group. The setting was one that is familiar and conducive to the events in the books.
- Were there any parts of the story that you had difficulty developing?
I found the hardest part to be the section where Mrs. McGee (the grandmotherly figure) was in the hospital. In order for the reader to see how much Greta Grace feared losing Mrs. McGee, it was important that she go through something dramatic. However, settling on a condition and how that would play out proved to be a little bit difficult.
- Will you share your writing process?
The process for me started with just freewriting about the main character. Who was she going to be, what was her personality going to be like and what were the experiences I wanted her to have in the story. Once I was clear on this, I just started writing and writing. In doing so, the characters that she needed on the journey with her were developed. Sometimes while writing I would get an idea about something that would be good to address later in the book so I kept a running list of those ideas.
When the story was final, I went back and read it out loud. That allowed me to see what was or wasn’t flowing, or what needed more detail or emotion. Then it was back to the drawing board (several times!) until I felt like it was perfect.
- Do you prefer writing to make reading fun or writing to impart lessons in your
The beautiful thing about realistic fiction is that you get to do both! I had so much fun writing the story line for Greta Grace. I loved knowing the reader would find her relatable and that they would feel happy for her, sad for her, worried for her, etc.. but I also loved knowing that a nugget of a lesson might also make a big difference in someone’s life! In order to provide this opportunity I created the discussion questions at the end of the
- Would you share something about yourself that readers don’t know (yet)?
Every lesson in the book is one that I wish I had known long before I did and ones that I felt were really important for my own kids to know when they were growing up.
Fun fact: I read the entire book out loud to my dog!
Ages 9+ | 190 Pages
Publisher: Emerald Lake Books | ISBN-13: 9781945847448
What’s worse than being invisible? Being noticed by the school bully.
Greta Grace likes her life. She isn’t the most popular girl in school-some days she even feels invisible-but she gets good grades and stays out of trouble.
She has a best friend in Samantha and a grandmotherly neighbor who is never too busy for a chat. Her mom can be a bit overprotective, but Greta Grace doesn’t blame her. Being a single parent probably isn’t the easiest job in the world.
When her longtime crush finally starts noticing her, Greta Grace thinks her life might even be perfect.
But when a merciless bully takes aim at Greta Grace, her carefree existence suddenly ends.
Who ever knew that school could be so hard?
Click here for the entry form:
Enter for a chance to win a copy of Greta Grace, along with a 1-hr coaching session for a parent on how to raise a super-empowered teen.
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
A copy of Greta Grace
A 1-hr parenting coaching session with Joanna Quinn
Four (4) winners receive:
A copy of Greta Grace
The giveaway begins September 20, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends October 20, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joanna O’Reilly Quinn can usually be found learning something new to teach teens. As a former middle school teacher, founder of Super Empowered One, and life coach, it is no surprise that her middle-grade fiction book, Greta Grace, weaves some teachable moments into her character’s very relatable experiences. Think, middle school… Ahhh!Through her company, Super Empowered One, Joanna teaches kids how to access their confidence, happiness and power, so they can live their best life. Joanna loves writing, the ocean, a good run, and living in Fairfield, Connecticut, with her husband and two kids. Visit her at superempoweredone.com to learn more about her coaching services and Greta Grace.