I was the kid who never sat still. Not in the sense that I was productive, or had intelligent things to share with the class, or that I dreamed of traveling to faraway places. I was the kid who sat in a chair and tapped his desk, wiggled his toes, or clucked his tongue in rhythm. Reading was an unlikely hobby for me because I honestly didn’t have the attention span for it. I was more likely to harbor a hidden talent for knocking over science projects or stringing up popsicle sticks with rubber bands so I could strum them like a guitar.
I thought about a lot of things. About cool monsters, and music, and about instruments that didn’t exist because I was going to create them. I was like my main character, Sam Morris, in that way – my imagination was filled with things I couldn’t communicate without a headphone jack for people to plug in and listen.
It wasn’t all fidgeting and music, of course. I somehow settled myself long enough to both read widely and think deeply about books. They were my anchor, really. My chill out activity. A way to keep my brain focused on one thing for an extended period of time. I brought my growing love of books with me through every experience I had, until the day came when I found myself in love with teaching upper elementary school kids. Through them I learned about the world of middle grade books, works of fiction that helped kids understand those mysterious feelings that only imaginary headphone jacks in their head can explain.
When I made the decision to write in the voice of a twelve-year-old girl who literally thought in music, all I really had to do was remember. Sam’s a girl, but I didn’t set out to write a girl character so much as write a character who happens to be a girl. How did this girl feel while she spent hours awake at night with the soundtrack of her imagination playing on repeat? What did it feel like to annoy the kids around her with the patterned collision of eraser against notebook during language arts (try it sometime — it makes a perfect imaginary kickdrum, especially if you press your ear against the desk).
If anything, I hope Sam lets kids know that it’s okay to be passionate about things other people don’t seem to care about. It’s okay to be weird, and laugh at jokes no one else finds funny. And it’s okay to want to rock harder than anyone else, so long as you’re willing to work your heart out getting there.
I truly believe Sam’s story has found a perfect home, with a perfect agent, editor, and publisher. I’m both scared and excited for you to meet her when I AM DRUMS hits shelves in the fall of 2015.
|Mike Grosso writes, teaches, parents, and plays a variety of instruments at all hours of the day for all possible reasons in Oak Park, Illinois, where he lives with his wife and two-year-old son. He loves coffee, teaching, writing, reading, and making lots of noise with whatever objects he can find nearby. His debut contemporary middle grade novel, I AM DRUMS, will be released by Egmont USA in Fall 2015. Until then, you can follow his journey to publication at mikegrossoauthor.com or by following him on Twitter.|