ALL FOUR KIDS: INTERVIEW WITH DANA ALISON LEVY, AUTHOR OF THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

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18769869Hi, all, Fearless 15er Cindy L. Rodriguez here. Today, we celebrate the release of THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER by Dana Alison Levy. This funny, heart-warming, middle grade novel about two dads and their four adopted sons has received great reviews, including starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Here’s the synopisis:

Perfect for fans of The Penderwicks and James Patterson’s Middle School series, this seriously funny, modern family adventure features two dads, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets.

Meet the Fletchers. Their year will be filled with new schools, old friends, a grouchy neighbor, hungry skunks, leaking ice rinks, school plays, wet cats, and scary tales told in the dark!

There’s Sam, age twelve, who’s mostly interested in soccer, food, and his phone; Jax, age ten, who’s psyched for fourth grade and thinks the new neighbor stinks, and not just because of the skunk; Eli, age ten (but younger than Jax), who’s thrilled to be starting this year at the Pinnacle School, where everyone’s the smart kid; and Frog (not his real name), age six, who wants everyone in kindergarten to save a seat for his invisible cheetah. Also Dad and Papa. 

WARNING: This book contains cat barf, turtle pee, and some really annoying homework assignments.

From the Kirkus review: “This book is notable for its matter-of-fact depiction of an atypical family, the same-sex couple and their ethnically diverse children—two white, one African-American, one adopted from India. The boys are very different from one another but closely tied with warm family bonds. Their banter is realistic, and the disorder of their everyday lives, convincing. The Fletcher family rules!

Sounds fun, right? Well, it is, and here is where you can buy it:

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | BAM | Amazon | Powell’s | Book Depository | Random House

CR: The Fletchers are awesome and there are so many laugh out loud moments. Please tell us where you got the idea for this modern family and whether any of the characters and/or moments were inspired by real people or experiences.

DAL: This is the kind of book I loved reading as a kid, the kind of book that my editor calls comfort food books, because they are familiar and reassuring and wonderful to go back to again and again. I wanted to write a book like that, but I wanted to make it more reflective of the world we live in, and of the kind of families that are all around us. I also wanted to write a book where there was no question of the trope of “mother knows best.” You know, the kind where the dad is just another big goofy kid, and the mother, (wearing an apron of course), frowns disapprovingly and folds laundry. I hate that.

While my own family doesn’t have the same details as the Fletchers, honesty compels me to share that many of the most ridiculous moments of the book are fact, not fiction.

CR: You have had some interesting jobs so far! When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What were some of the things you wrote before your debut novel?

DAL: I always wanted to be a writer, (except for a rogue year in third grade when I wanted to be a marine biologist). But that seemed too daunting, so I worked in business and nonprofits and let the writing fall into the “someday” category. Not surprisingly, the best part of every job I had was the writing part — that was what I did best and enjoyed the most. As for what else I’ve written, well, I’ve written about feminist mermaids, an outdoor school, and teenagers climbing Mount Everest, to mention a few. Some of these stories might never make it out of the proverbial trunk, while others are works in progress. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher was the third full book that I wrote, and the second one that I tried to get published. The race is not always to the swift…

CR: Tell us a little about your publishing journey, and any advice for pre-published writers?

DAL: As I mentioned, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher was not my first attempt to get published. My journey was pretty typical, I think. I wrote and rewrote and queried and got rejected and rewrote and got nicer rejections and so on. My agent, Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, plucked me out of the slush and has been an incredible guide and advocate on this journey.

As for advice…I guess I would just say that writers have to think hard about what their goals are. If their goals are to be in print, there are more options than ever to get there. If the goal is to be published by a major traditional publisher, then they need to be willing to work within those rules. Because at the end of the day, publishing is a business. It’s an interaction of art and commerce, and a writer who wants to be traditionally published needs to balance both those realities. But I love that there seems to be a resurgence of small presses, not to mention the self-publishing option. People can tell their stories in many different ways. And that’s awesome.

CR: What can you tell us about the next Fletcher Family novel? Do you have any other future projects in the works?

DAL: The next Fletcher book — and WOW is it fun to say that!! — anyway, the sequel is a summer story, and takes place during the month of August on a fictitious island that the family has been going to forever. There are loads of shenanigans and family misadventures, of course, but there’s also more of a plot, because a nefarious developer is planning to try and tear down an old beloved lighthouse, and the Fletchers have to figure out what his story is, and how to stop him.

Beyond that, I am working on another middle grade book, which is actually about Anna Bean, the girl on the farm that the Fletchers go visit, as well as a young adult novel. But who knows when, or if, those will ever see daylight!

CR: Lastly, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

DAL: Ooh! Those are good questions. Well, I’m not afraid of skiing double black diamond trails, no matter how steep and gruesome, or bodysurfing big waves. I might not look pretty doing it, but I know I can hold my own. And something I’m afraid of? Um…rats. Honestly, every nightmare I can remember since childhood has involved rats. Though there are several fictional rats who have breached my prejudice, in real life I want nothing to do with them.

Dana LevyDana Alison Levy was raised by pirates but escaped at a young age and went on to earn a degree in aeronautics and puppetry. Actually, that’s not true–she just likes to make things up. That’s why she always wanted to write books. She was born and raised in New England and studied English literature before going to graduate school for business. While there is value in all learning, had she known she would end up writing for a living, she might not have struggled through all those statistics and finance classes. Dana was last seen romping with her family in Massachusetts.

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CindyRodriguezCindy L. Rodriguez is a former journalist turned teacher and fiction writer. She is a middle school reading specialist and an adjunct professor. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant and The Boston Globe. She lives in Connecticut with her young daughter and their rescue mutt. Her contemporary YA debut, WHEN REASON BREAKS, will be published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books on February 10, 2015. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.
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One thought on “ALL FOUR KIDS: INTERVIEW WITH DANA ALISON LEVY, AUTHOR OF THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

  1. I *loved* the Family Fletcher, and am so excited to read that there will be a sequel. Can’t wait to start recommending it to families at my bookshop, especially because I know a few sibling-less kids who love reading about big, funny families.

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