An Interview with Erin Dionne

Hello!

Author InterviewLast week, I reviewed Erin Dionne’s latest release, Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting, and I was impressed with many of the elements that made up such an entertaining middle grade mystery! And so, I was delighted that Erin agreed to answer a few of my questions for her. Her responses tackle everything from developing a story from a male POV to choosing a Boston setting. I particularly like her advice to “read widely,” as I myself am trying to branch out from my typical contemporary YA reads this year. Enjoy!

Interview with Erin Dionne1. Your past four books feature a girl as the main character, yet I was impressed with how realistic Ollie, and his interactions with the rest of the male campers, came across. Did you do anything to prepare and/or practice writing in his voice?

Thank you for saying that! Writing from a male character’s POV was a little nerve-wracking, but I knew Ollie so well from writing the first book, that his voice came naturally. The other campers fell into place fairly easily, too, but I did have my friend’s 13-year-old son read through a draft to catch any inconsistencies. Once I got his stamp of approval, I felt much better! Writing from a boy’s perspective was a nice change of pace.

2. Diversity in middle grade and young adult novels is a huge topic, especially nowadays, but Ollie’s background and heritage was just another aspect of the story that I found effortless, not forced. Did you struggle at all with this part of his character development? 

It’s important to me that my books reflect the world that we live in, and Ollie and his friends are from a large urban environment — so the make-up of the Scout troop reflects that. Ollie’s biracial ethnicity was just part of his character when I envisioned him. As I developed him through both books, I included aspects of his background that were relevant to the story and his growth. I’m glad that you felt he came across well. Was it a struggle? Not really. I did a little extra research to make sure I had the Vietnamese terms I used correct, but the rest came from knowing Ollie’s character and family well.

3. I live near Boston myself, so it was fun to read about places that I recognize throughout the story! What made you choose the Boston Harbor Islands as the setting of the book?

As with Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking, I wanted to use the backdrop of a real mystery for this story. I’ve done a lot of research on Boston history, and there are so many great stories to tell and mysteries to uncover! But when it came time to actually write, I wanted to set the book in a very different environment from the first one. I needed Ollie to be out of the city and away from the technology he relies on. From there, the island/camp setting rose to the surface. And the pirate lore surrounding the Boston Harbor Islands led me to a fun plot.

4. The campers’ game of Gotcha mark some of my favorite scenes in the book {I would love to play myself!}. Do you have a favorite scene or chapter that you enjoyed writing?

The Gotcha scenes were so fun to write! I hope to play Gotcha this fall with some Scouts, actually! When it came to the writing, I *really* enjoyed the scene with Jack in the tree, which I think is the funniest scene I’ve written in any of my books. Also, I loved writing the chase scene at the end of the book. I flew through those last chapters. 

5. Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I think the best thing you can do as a writer is to read. Read widely. If you love mysteries, try fantasy. Read nonfiction. Memoir. Essays. Short stories. The more widely you read, the more ways you learn to tell a story. Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

And thank you to Erin! :) Do check out any of her books next time you’re in a reading rut. The novels are hilarious and engaging, so I have little doubt that you will enjoy them.

Have a terrific Monday!

Bella

Psst. Author picture by Aran Gilmore kindly taken from Erin’s website.

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