Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Alysa Wishingrad

Operation Awesome Spotlight #20Questions in #2021 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6

The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad

1- Where did the idea for your book come from?

The inspiration came from a writing prompt in a workshop some years ago; “tsk, tsk, poor little boy,” I saw this boy being raised like a bird in a gilded cage in a Manor house on a hill, an old man his guardian (or perhaps jailer). It also sparked a new writing voice for me—it took some time, but the story eventually evolved and unfolded. But I’m also always deeply inspired by philosophy and politics—not along party lines, but rather how we organize ourselves in society. Power, truth, how easily people can be corrupted are important are concepts many upper middle grade readers are beginning to grapple with. This is a time when they’re beginning to realize that not only do adults not have all the answers, but that they can often be outright wrong.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Don’t be afraid to scratch a draft and return to the blank page. And always listen to that little voice in the back of your head when it tells you there’s still work to be done. It’s probably right.

3- What most motivates you to read a new book?

I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that covers play a part in my decision to pull a book off the shelf. But mostly I’m most attracted to fantasies that have some tethering to the real world—a historical setting or fantastical twists on real events. I like a to read on the upper edges of MG fantasy, books that have a little darkness and that truck in big themes without feeling pedantic. I tend to have a spidey sense of what books will hit my sweet spot.

4- What are your hopes for our world in 2022?

That we remember that we’re all here trying to do our best, to live lives of meaning, that we all deserve to be housed, and healthy, to be fed, and educated, and that it’s alright that we’re not all the same. Differences are what make a community healthy and strong, divisions only serve the dividers.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book and your dogs?

#NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Alysa Wishingrad #dog #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Alysa Wishingrad #dog

6- Do you take part in NaNoWriMo? If you don't take part -- Why not? (

I’ve had the intention a couple of times, but I’m not a fast drafter. Writing a new project for me is about exploring and listening and wandering for quite a while. Chasing a word count takes away a lot of the joy of writing for me. But I sure do admire people who can work that way, and I love watching their word count tick up through the month.

7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

My Twitter is @agwishingrad @rebeccaksansari , author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly, and The In-Between is a dear friend, and indispensable writing buddy. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to make some outstanding friends through my debut experience. I don’t know about other debut classes, but the MG writers of #the21ders are an incredibly kind, generous, and immensely talented group of writers. I love them all, but will give a special shout-out to @katealbus , author of A Place To Hang The Moon, and @Yvettewrites , author of Glitter Gets Everywhere

8- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

@intotheforestdark is always inspiring!

9- Are you a Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser, and how did you adopt that style?

I’m trying hard to become a reformed pantser, but the road is rocky and fraught with lots of pants and plot holes.

I like to build the entire world of my story out before I begin drafting. That usually involves cracking open a new notebook, sharpening a new pencil and telling myself the story of the story. Things change and evolve as I explore the new terrain. Then once I get the shape of the story (I usually know by this point where I’m beginning and where I’ll end, but not necessarily how I’ll get there) I’ll start playing with the voice. And then I let myself pants for a bit, to play in the world, see what comes up.

Once I have the shape of the story down, then I plan. I plan the arc, and I plan out each chapter as I get to it; the beats, the questions that gets answered, and the questions that arise. But honestly things change all the time, and my best laid plans always get mislaid.

10- What does your basic writing schedule look like, and how often do you write?

I write most every day of the week when I’m on deadline, and five days a week when I’m drafting something new. I sit down at my desk anywhere between 8:30am and 9 and will work until lunch, or until the dogs demand I take them for a walk. I try to take a break somewhere in the afternoon for a run or errands, or, if I’m lucky lunch with a friend. But I might often be back at it again after dinner if I’m chasing a deadline.

11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: Frances Hardinge @franceshardinge
Title: The Lie Tree
Love because: Where do I begin? Aside from being a masterclass in storytelling, The Lie Tree has that perfect blend of the historical and the fantastic that I love so much. It’s a mystery that explores religion vs science, women’s places in society, and the lies we choose to tell ourselves, all told in Hardinge’s gorgeous prose. If you haven’t read any Frances Hardinge yet, please do yourself a favor and read her right now.

12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

Empathy, empowerment, a bit of healthy rage at the conditions under which many people in the Land must live. Courage, curiosity, and love, both for oneself and community.

13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?

I hope that the book inspires readers to bravely look outside the boundaries of their own lives, to examine what they have to offer to their community, and to understand that those traits we often think of as our weaknesses are our true super-powers. I hope too that they can come to see, as Beau does, that they are the ones who get to decide who they are you. And that even as family, community, or society at large might try to pigeon hole us, we owe it ourselves, and to others to embrace the gifts we’ve been given.
#NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Alysa Wishingrad

14- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?

Well, right now I’m on deadline, so I don’t have a whole lot of non-writing time, but when I do, I love to cook, to bake, and to can—especially fresh jams and jelly. Ask me for my recipe for Peach Pit Jelly – you won’t be disappointed!
#NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Alysa Wishingrad

In the before times, I used to go to see as much theater as I could. I’m so glad to see it returning now! Otherwise, I try to use my time away from work to fill my well. Sometimes that means hiking, other times going to see art. But quite often it’s just going out to be among people, listening, watching, and snatching ideas out of the air.
#NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Alysa Wishingrad #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Alysa Wishingrad

15- #WeNeedDiverseBooks What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?

Oh goodness, I can’t say I have one favorite, so I’m going to shout to a few recent releases that I love.

Josephine Against The Sea by Shakirah Bourne, is fun, funny, harrowing and rich with Bajan culture. I love it!

Take Back The Block by Chrystal Giles takes on gentrification and is so smart and inspiring, it’s a brilliant community or classroom read.

Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier, is about a shy girl finding her voice, and it will be out in February.

16- What method do you feel is the best way to get book reviews?

In terms of bloggers and bookstagrammers, I say, Ask. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask, the worst that will happen is that you don’t get a reply, or maybe a No. You won’t ever know until you try.

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I always knew I would purse traditional publishing, and I’m so grateful to have landed with amazing editors!

18- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

To have my stories read and embraced by readers, to be lucky enough to keep putting books out into the world. To keep leveling up my writing and challenging myself, and my readers. I won’t lie though; awards, prizes, a movie adaptation would be amazing, but having young readers loving my books is in and of itself a grand prize.

19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?

What do you do when faced with something that scares you? And if you confront it, what do you tell yourself to push yourself past the urge to runaway?

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. 
At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power. That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden. For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right. 
Teaming up with a fiery runaway boy, their mission quickly turns into something far greater as sinister forces long lurking in the shadows prepare to make their final move—no matter what the cost. But it just might be Beau who wields the power he seeks . . . if he can go from pawn to player before the Land tears itself apart.
In this high-stakes middle grade fantasy by debut author Alysa Wishingrad, a sheltered heir named Beau will soon discover that appearances aren’t always what they seem. 
“A rich, inventive, captivating story of big injustices and small heroes, The Verdigris Pawn nods to classic fantasy while asking questions deeply relevant to our world. A magical adventure that readers will adore.” 
— Anne Ursu, author of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy

“Heartfelt, hopeful, and charming, The Verdigris Pawn is a deftly crafted tale that weaves adventure with purpose, beautifully illustrating how kids can change the world.” 
— Heather Kassner, Author of The Plentiful Darkness 

“With vibrant characters readers can’t help but cheer for, Wishingrad’s debut is a tribute to the beauty of both language and story. Filled with magic, suspense, and a shifting landscape of who is friend and who is foe, The Verdigris Pawn expertly explores the double-edged swords of power, loyalty and righteousness. A gorgeous and unforgettable book.” 
— Rebecca K.S. Ansari, author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly and The In-Between. 

“The idea that you don’t have to be who you were raised to be is one that readers may just be considering at this age, and it’s handled with grace and depth.” 
— Bulletin of the Center For Children's Books Review 

“Wishingrad creates a cast of well-realized characters, a believable pre-industrial world, elements of magic, and a fast-paced inventive plot. 
The journey offers reflection, surprises, and plenty of adventure.” 
— Booklist 

Alysa Wishingrad was 7 years-old when she wrote her first story: The Adventures of Kinney and Korney, an instant classic in her family. She went on to become a playwright and a casting director for TV, theater, and film before leaving all that behind to write for the most open, honest, and inquisitive people around; middle grade readers Alysa lives in NY’s Hudson Valley with her family, and two very demanding dogs who dictate her writing schedule. Her debut, The Verdigris Pawn, came out in July from HarperCollins, and was a JLG Gold Standard Selection. Her next middle grade fantasy will follow in Summer 2023. 
You can visit her at, on Twitter @agwishingrad, and on Instagram @alysawishingradwrites

The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad

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