Welcome to Linda Jackson, the author of MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON! See below to learn how she got her start as a writer and what she loves most about writing for middle-graders.
The book/person/thing that inspired me to be a writer is:
My college professors at both Mississippi State University (where I attended for 4 years) and The University of Alabama (where I graduated) inspired me to be a writer by reading my work out loud to the class. During freshman English composition, my professor would read aloud the papers which most impressed her. On the first two assignments, my paper was not among those read aloud. As a matter of fact, I made C’s on my first two papers. After that second C, I asked my professor, “What do I need to do to get an A in this class?” She replied, “Be more creative. Your essays are dull.” So on my third essay, I used my best asset—humor. Not only did I get an A on that third paper, but my essay was one of the “read-alouds.” My professor was so impressed that she saved it for last. She also smiled as she read it, and the class applauded when she finished. After that, I always aspired to write papers that my professors would love enough to read out loud to the class. And guess what? They did! After that college experience, I knew I wanted to continue writing in order to make people smile, laugh, cry, or even cringe.
The hardest thing about writing for a middle grade audience is:
The hardest thing about writing for a middle grade audience is to try to make sure my young characters don’t sound like adults. Sometimes as writers, we tend to throw in flashy words and phrases or try to weave in messages that probably wouldn’t come from a kid. A wise literary agent once told me that I needed to “get out of my own way and let my characters do the talking.” So now when I write, I ask myself, “Is this something my character would say or do, or is this something grown-up Linda would say or do?” If the answer is “grown-up Linda,” then I delete the word, sentence, paragraph, or even the page—with no regrets.
Why do you like writing middle grade books?
I like writing middle grade books so much, first of all, because I love reading them! My middle grade years were such a special time in my life that I love revisiting that time in fiction. And, at the risk of sounding really corny, I love being around children in the middle grade age group. The things they say and do simply fascinate me.
What will middle grade readers like about your books?
Even though I don’t want my characters to sound like adults, neither do I want them to talk down to the reader. Hopefully, middle grade readers will like that my characters are complex and are not afraid to tackle tough issues my books.
My least favorite subject in school was:
Believe it or not, my least favorite subject in school was history. But that’s because my teachers simply had us read and memorize a bunch of facts to be tested on. Now I love history because I get to choose what I read, and I don’t have to be tested on it!
My favorite snack:
I rarely snack, so I can’t say I have a favorite snack. But I do love to drink a variety of coffees throughout the day. Does coffee count as a favorite snack?
The best thing about my job is:
The best thing about my job is that I get to make up stories and nobody calls me a liar for doing so! Seriously though, I love kids, so I look forward to doing school visits and meeting the kids (and teachers and librarians!) who read my books.
One piece of advice for your middle grade self:
Hang in there, girl! Keep doing what you’re doing—working hard, making good grades, and staying out of trouble. It will pay off when you’re an adult. Plus, no one will be able to dig up (too much) dirt on you if you ever become famous!
Where can we find you on the internet? (Social media, website?)
In the mood for an historical middle-grade? If so, click here for more information on MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON!