Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Book Tour for Sophie Washington: The Snitch by Tonya Duncan Ellis. Read an excerpt and Q & A with the author below. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Follow the tour by clicking on the banner image above. Increase your chances of winning by commenting on each blog.
Genre: Children’s (Middle Grade)
Series: Sophie Washington
Published on: February 27th, 2018
There’s nothing worse than being a tattletale…
That’s what 10-year-old Sophie Washington thinks until she runs into Lanie Mitchell, a new girl at school. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers, and even takes their lunch money. If they tell, they are scared the other kids in their class will call them snitches, and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that.
Excitement at home keeps Sophie’s mind off the trouble with Lanie. She takes a fishing trip to the Gulf of Mexico with her parents and little brother, Cole, and discovers a mysterious creature in the attic above her room. For a while, Sophie is able to keep her parents from knowing what is going on at school. But Lanie’s bullying goes too far, and a classmate gets seriously hurt. Sophie needs to make a decision. Should she stand up to the bully, or become a snitch?
Q & A
Please tell us a little bit about your book. What inspired the themes in your story?
Sophie Washington: The Snitch is the second book in my middle grade children’s book series. Sophie is a 10-year-old Texan who is being bullied at school by new girl, Lanie Mitchell. Lanie takes Sophie and her friends’ lunch money, shoves them around and calls them names. The kids don’t want to report what’s happening because they fear being called snitches and ostracized by their other classmates. My inspiration for the story was a bullying incident at my kids’ school. The kids were being shoved around by a boy in the class and were more terrified of being called tattletales if they reported him than what he did to them. Aside from the bullying story, this book and all the others in my series highlight the uniqueness of Houston, TX, which is Sophie’s home. The kids routinely see alligators and wild boar in their neighborhoods, go muttin’ bustin’ at the rodeo and have other one-of-a kind experiences common to life in their area.
Do you outline before you right or just dive in?
I don’t write a formal outline per se, but I do brainstorm where I want the story to go and write out chapter headings that serve as a framework for each progression.
Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading?
My favorite children’s authors of all time are Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I loved books like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, and Are You There God It’s Me Margaret growing up, and also liked stories about Ramona the Great. Modern day kids authors I enjoy reading are J.K. Rowling, R.J. Palacio, and Crystal Allen. This year I’m planning on reading kids’ books by Lisa Graff, and Joan Bauer among others. For leisure I also like historical romance books, autobiographies and thrillers.
If you could visit any setting from one of your books, which one would it be and why?
Most of my books are set in Houston. Sophie takes trips to Austin, TX and San Antonio, TX in a couple. With my series, I aim to highlight what life in Texas is like. I’ve been to all the places I write about in my books and use my observations during my visits to add authenticity. I will be starting the sixth book in the series soon, which will have Sophie and her friends traveling to South America.
Who are your celebrity inspirations? If you were to cast your characters, which actors would you choose?
I’m really not a big TV watcher and shows I do like are reality series like So You Think You Can Dance or Flip or Flop, which have no regular kids in cast. I’d probably do open auditions and have new breakout actors play the main characters in my book.
How do you come up with the names of your characters?
The name Sophie is a variation of my daughter’s name. The Nathan Jones character is based on another student who used to compete with my kids in school. His name has the same number of syllables and the letters “an” as the ending. I looked through lists of popular baby names to find names of other characters. It was really kind of random. On my upcoming book in the series, Sophie Washington: Hurricane, I introduce a Latina character. I researched listings of popular Hispanic girl names to choose hers. I wanted something that was popular in Latin America but would seem unusual to my readers and picked Valentina. I think for my next book I might have a contest to let my readers choose names for one or two new characters.
Name one item you can’t live without.
Electricity. Living in Houston I’ve experienced more than my share of storms and power outages. Sitting around in 100 degree heat with cranky kids and no electricity to get the AC going is not fun.
What are some of your hobbies?
My hobbies are reading, listening to music, riding my bike, swimming, travel, and going to cultural events. Reading is very relaxing to me and I love to curl up with a good book and learn about new places, people or things or travel to new times and places. I love travelling and have visited 42 states, many countries of Europe, the Caribbean and South America.
If you were presented with the opportunity to travel through time, which period would you choose and why?
Would I be able to return to modern times? If not, I would stay where I am because I wouldn’t want to leave my family. I also feel like as an African American woman this one of the best times in history for me. If I went too far back in time I might risk being made a slave or being oppressed. If it were strictly for observation I might want to go back to prehistoric times to see what was really going on then.
What’s next for you?
The fifth book in my series, Sophie Washington: Hurricane, is scheduled to be released in March. In this book Sophie and her family are forced to evacuate from their home when a natural disaster hits the city. Sophie learns lessons about gratefulness when her new friend Valentina is flooded from her home and realizes that she is stronger than she ever imagined.