Middle Grade Madness | Interview with Abby Cooper, author of Sticks & Stones


Middle Grade Madness will be a new feature here at Lilybloombooks, that showcases Middle Grade books! Reviews, Interviews, Guest posts and Giveaways. Join the Madness!


Hello! Today, I am excited to have Abby Cooper on the blog today! Abby’s debut novel, Sticks & Stones is expected to publish this summer and I for one, can’t wait to read it! Check out the interview below and get more information about Sticks & Stones.


Hi Abby! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today.

Thanks for having me!

In 140 characters or less, tell me a little bit about Sticks & Stones.

The names kids call 12yo Elyse stick to her body. To make the words nice, she’ll have to win over her worst enemy: herself.

What inspired you to write Sticks & Stones?

Kids! I was working in a K-8 school library at the time I wrote Sticks & Stones. And let me tell you – you see a lot of things in a school library. Things like:

  1. Joy, friendship, creativity, teamwork, passion, and excitement (because school libraries = super amazing places, obviously.) But also:
  2. A little bit of bullying
  3. Negative self-talk (“I can’t check out that book, I’m too dumb”)
  4. Though mostly, excitement. (See #1.)  🙂
All of my experiences and observations directly led to Sticks & Stones. I want students to remember to be kind to one another, and to be kind to themselves. (I also wanted to write a book that students would be really excited to see in their libraries!)

What was your biggest challenge, if any, when writing Sticks & Stones?

Time! Anyone who has ever written a book knows that there’s never enough time to do it. I wrote Sticks & Stones as a NaNo project (http://nanowrimo.org), so I only had a month to write my first draft. It was pretty challenging, but somehow I got it done. I think if you’re really really really determined to write a book, you can do it no matter what your circumstances. (Though I will always be in complete awe of people who write books, work full-time jobs, and have kids to take care of!)

You visit schools and libraries for events and presentations – what is the most fulfilling thing about these visits?

I LOVE visiting schools and libraries! Each visit I’ve done so far, whether in person or over Skype, has been so unique and fun and lively. I feel really lucky to be able to talk about reading and writing with students near and far. I love seeing their passion for books – you can tell there are awesome teachers and librarians at work. The best part is simply being able to interact – being able to hear what they’re reading, to answer any questions they have about being an author, and just spending time together learning from one another. I hope I’m as inspiring to students as they are to me. Cheesy answer, but it’s true!

Do you have anything up your sleeve right now? (Work in progress)

I will have a second middle grade novel published by FSG in 2017, so I’m hard at work on revisions. It’s about a twelve-year-old girl who is able to do something very unusual. I’m also revising a couple other middle grade novels and am slowly writing another. I love middle grade and magical realism and hope to write both for a very long time!

Are you excited for any upcoming 2016 release in particular?

I’m excited for about a gazillion 2016 releases, haha. I can’t wait for all the 2016 debuts. I’ve gotten to read a bunch of middle grade ARCs and every single one has been out-of-this-world amazing. (Check them out here.)

Is there a Middle Grade book you would LOVE to see adapted into a show or movie?

Uh, YEAH! There are a ton of middle grade books that would make amazing movies. Dan Gemeinhart’s THE HONEST TRUTH would be a cool one. So would Corey Ann Haydu’s RULES FOR STEALING STARS, Jen Maschari’s THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE, and Sara Pennypacker’s PAX. And Gail Nall and Jen Malone’s YOU’RE INVITED series would be the absolute cutest TV show in the history of cute TV shows. Seriously. Get on it, TV people. Oooh, and Victoria Coe’s FENWAY AND HATTIE would be awesome, too! 

Back-list love: what is your favorite middle grade novel, and why?

One book that will always be special to me is FRINDLE by Andrew Clements. I still remember my third grade teacher reading it to my class, and there was just something about it – I don’t know what – but I loved it so much. It’s the book that truly turned me into a reader. I hope that STICKS & STONES will be that book for someone!

Thanks again for stopping by for a visit! I am looking forward to getting my hands on Sticks & Stones! 


About the Book



Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper

Expected publication: July 19th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Genre: Middle Grade


Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just “cute” and “adorable,” but as she’s gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like “loser” and “pathetic” appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like “interesting,” which she’s not really sure how to feel about. Now, at age twelve, she’s starting middle school, and just when her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, she receives an anonymous note saying “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who is sending her these notes, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.

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About Abby Cooper

Abby Cooper lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her miniature poodle, Louis, and a whole bunch of books. A former teacher and school librarian, she loves reading and helping others find the perfect books for them. When she’s not reading or writing, she likes to eat cupcakes, go running, and watch a lot of bad reality TV.


Tell me your thoughts

Does Sticks & Stones sound like something you’d enjoy? 


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