The Wendy McClure Wanderville mini Q&A


My friend Wendy McClure, author of the wonderful nonfiction books I'm Not The New Me and The Wilder Life, has today published Wanderville, the first in a series of middle grade historical middle grade adventure novels called Wanderville, about the Orphan Train Movement.

What were some of your favorite weird or upsetting facts you uncovered during your research for Wanderville?
1.) Apparently being a homeless kid on the Lower East Side at the turn of the 19th century was nothing like Newsies!

2.) People said things like "How's your poor feet?" as a greeting.

3.) Orphans really did eat gruel.

51GhcYnyj0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWhat, if anything, are the upsides of being a hobo (who appear in the next installment of the series?)
A fascinating vocabulary and a great sense of balance.

You've been on both sides of the publishing world. What can a first-time young-people's author do to prepare for when it comes to promoting themselves to children's librarians?
It really helps to talk to librarians and hear about what books they love and why (and how) they get them into kids' hands. And be prepared to talk about your process and your research, because librarians love hearing about that. Save your drafts and your research photos; bookmark every site you go to, because you might be lucky enough to get to talk about that stuff to a group of kids.

What did you learn from the process of writing Wanderville that will help you on future writing projects?
I worked from an outline for the first time; so I learned the importance of outlines and the limits of outlines. They can really help you keep writing and give you a sense of where to go next. But they can't explain motives and relationships between characters, and still you have to develop that stuff as you go.

Between this and The Wilder Life, there seems to be a theme about you writing about the Hard Old Days. What's the most recent old-timey thing you've done that people of yore would recognize?

Last weekend I had a toothache (well, actually, I was sore from having a wisdom tooth removed) and the next morning I wrapped a cloth around my chin and head just like in this picture:

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I did it because my face was swelling and I wanted to hold an ice pack in place. So I just sat around and a sad trombone played, until I remembered I had 21st-century painkillers and I took those. I'm better now, thanks.

You can learn more about Wendy's work, research and appearances over at her recently-refurbished website!