The Art of the Swap, interview with Kristine Asselin, and giveaway winners announced!

This post will be a bit shorter than I’d like, because I sprained my hand/wrist this past week and am still wearing a brace. I’ve made seven typos just typing this. XD So first up, so many congratulations to Kathy D and Richard M, our winners of The Art of the Swap and Hatter Madigan!

MMGM Holiday giveaway 2017

Thank you all for the generous follows, and support!

And now, on to my (thankfully already typed!) interview with awesome Art of the Swap author Kristine Asselin. It was such fun to get this glimpse inside Kris’s head, because I LOVED The Art of the Swap! It’s a wonderful story, cleverly told, with super fun glimpse into another time.

cover Art of the Swap

SW: Can you tell me what the germination of this story was like? Did the idea to have the girls swap bodies spring out fully developed, or did you grow it over time?

KA: Initially it wasn’t a time travel story. I’d visited Newport, RI with my family and my daughter and I had imagined how cool it would be to be the child of one of the caretaker’s of a mansion like those from the gilded age. Living in a museum sounded so cool! I’d been tossing around how to write that story for a year or two.

In June 2015, Jen Malone and I carpooled from Massachusetts to New Jersey for a conference and we started talking about things we were working on–when I mentioned this idea of the caretaker’s daughter in a living museum, we started brainstorming and all of a sudden it was this amazing multidimensional project spanning a century with two distinct voices. We had the first few chapters drafted and pitched to Amy Cloud at Simon and Schuster by early September of that same year. She bought it based on those chapters.

SW: Wow, that’s a great publishing story! I was impressed with the language differences, in the way the two girls spoke. Hannah with her heavy reliance on slang, and Maggie’s more formal way of speaking. Was it difficult to write these girls and keep them separate? Did they ever try to steal each other’s dialogue?

KA: We worked really hard to be sure the voices were really different–we both worked on the first few chapters, but as we got into the writing, it was easier to each take a character and her arc. It was really important for Maggie to have a more formal voice as an heiress in the early twentieth century. And of course, Hannah is a child of the ’00s, so her voice had to be super contemporary. It’s always fun to see if readers can guess which girl Jen writes and which one I write!

SW: The gilded age setting for Hannah’s half of the mystery was so well-developed, and so fascinating! How much research did you have to do, to develop that world and make it historically accurate? Were you an antique-savvy kid, like Hannah?

KA: Both Jen and I did a ton of research. One of my favorite memories was a trip to The Elms where we had a great sit down with the current caretaker Harold Mathews, who did happen to bring up his daughter in the house in the ’80s. We took a lot of inspiration for Hannah’s life from that meeting with Harold. We also talked to his daughter (grown now) about her experiences. Our research for the early 1900’s life in the house came from a number of really good books, information about the house from the Newport Preservation Society, and a lot of googling.

We don’t claim that it’s 100% historically accurate (though we tried really hard to get all the details right)–the story and the characters were more important. We also took some creative license with “real” people–this is definitely not a biography in any way! We made changes even after the ARC was printed with a couple of details when we realized we were a bit off. One good example is the camera that Hannah uses in 1905. We were imagining those giant tripod cameras–but then we realized that the Kodak Brownie had come out in 1900 and gave people a hand held camera to use.

I was not necessarily a history buff like Hannah but I’ve always been a fan of living history. Our favorite family trips are to antique properties, historic cities and locations, cemeteries, and the like.

SW: That’s so cool you got to visit The Elms, and hear Harold’s stories in person! I really enjoyed the unfolding mystery within the story, and the art heist shenanigans. Without giving away anything spoilery, can you tell us how you developed the mystery? Did you know who the culprit would be from the beginning, or did you spy them out as you wrote?

KA: Thank you! We didn’t know who the culprit was going to be–that might have been one of the last mysteries we needed to solve for the plot. Another challenge was making sure the continuity worked with a couple of items that needed to be hidden in 1905 and found in 2018–probably the most time we spent on any part of the plot was making sure that worked.

SW: I find it interesting that you and Jen Malone co-wrote the book . Can you tell us what that process was like? What do you see as the most important thing in making an author teamship work?

KA: Jen is one of my favorite people on the planet–I loved working with her on this. We worked so well together, I can’t even remember much of the actual writing. We used a shared Google doc, which isn’t great as a writing tool, but allowed us to each see the live document in real time. The MOST important part of the team work for us was something we said at the very beginning. Our friendship was more important than the book. We knew we were going to have to be honest with each other as we progressed and said from the outset that nothing was going to impact our friendship.

SW: It’s great that you were able to put your friendship first–and how perfect that the book grew this way given the friendships in the book! What projects do you have in the works now, or news on the writing front? Will there be more books about Maggie and Hannah?

KA: I’m not sure we’ll see more of Maggie and Hannah–I think their story is pretty much told. But we *might* have something up our sleeve for another time swap type book. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ve recently had the opportunity to rerelease my debut digital-only Young Adult novel in print format for the first time. ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT is about a girl who defies her parents to covertly play on a boys hockey team. Link here: AWYSI

This is the Amazon link, but it’s available from Barnes and Noble, as well as other outlets, and from Ingram for libraries and book sellers.

Congrats, and good luck to your YA book!

Finally, no interview would be complete without a question from Apricot-kitty:

A: It seems the Elms was a pet-free household. Was that typical of big homes in the gilded age? Because honestly, I’m pretty sure the girls could have used the smarts of a cat, in solving that mystery.

KA: I think the girls could have used a savvy cat! And no, not all gilded age homes were pet free. In fact, Elizabeth Drexel, who makes a brief appearance in SWAP had little dogs that she loved. There’s a famous portrait of her hanging at The Elms with one of her little dogs!

Lovely! I’ve now added visiting The Elms to my bucket list. 🙂 So many thanks to Kris for satisfying my questions, and to her publisher for supplying the arc! Giving away books makes me feel like Santa Clause!

This will be my last post until some time in January, when I get back from my winter break–hopefully with a healed up hand. To that end, I will see you all again in 2018, and I hope you all have a fantastic holiday!

For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday interviews, reviews, giveaways and spotlights stop by Greg Pattridge’s blog, and happy reading!


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