Debbie: Jacqui, tell us a little about yourself.
Jacqui: I have been a resume-filer, grill chef, elementary teacher, and database-manager, and I once drove a truck that could turn into a stage. These days, I’m a writer and a mother and a doughnut-enthusiast. My first book, The New Girl…And Me, came out in 2006 (illus. by Matt Phelan, pub. by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books). You can find out more about me at my website (http://www.jacquirobbins.com/) or come over to my blog, Jacqui’s Room (http://www.jacquirobbins.blogspot.com/), where the silliness never ends.
Debbie: For the record, I love your blog! I'm over there almost every day, reading your latest post.
But right now, what we'd like to know about is your latest book
Jacqui: Two of a Kind came out this July, also from Atheneum. My favorite quote called it “a sweet, insightful story about the in crowd, the outcasts, and the bravery it takes to be a real, true friend.” Kayla and Melanie are two of a kind and nobody is allowed to play with them. When they invite Anna over she’s thrilled, but then they make fun of her best friend and Anna has to decide where she wants to be.
Matt Phelan did the illustrations. He amazing; he draws the pictures I have in my head when I write. The book has gotten rave reviews and I’m thrilled with how it came out.
Debbie: And I was thrilled to see the book get nice notice in the August Notes from The Horn Book!
Other books, and projects on the horizon?
Jacqui: I have several other picture books in the pipeline. Right now, I’m working on one called Anybody But Arthur. I’m also writing a middle grade mystery, which is really fun, because I can blab for much longer and include things like a serial killer with a fear of corn syrup.
Debbie: Talk about a teaser - can't wait to see how the serial killer and the corn syrup phobia resolve!
Any upcoming appearances?
Jacqui: On September 3 at 7pm, I’ll be at the Ann Arbor District Library. We’re having a back to school party and I’ll be leading activities and reading and signing. Come and bring kids!
Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?
Jacqui: I grew up in Florida, right on Tampa Bay, and I miss the water. So my favorite places in Michigan are the places I can jump in a lake and pretend it’s an ocean. One of my favorite memories is hiking for what seemed like forever in the Sleeping Bear Dunes until we made it to the water. Gorgeous.
Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening
Jacqui: I love when spring finally comes and everyone peers out from behind our well-insulated doors and pokes a toe into the sunshine. Those first days, it’s never warm, but everyone’s outside, barely dressed, and saying, “Hey! Good to see you again! Nice winter?” like we’ve been out of town instead of just bunkered down in the snow and gray.
Debbie: That's one of my most favorite parts of Michigan, too!
A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Jacqui: Michigan writers are the nicest people on Earth. Seriously, they have been so welcoming and supportive. But it’s also a small world, so I’m going to tell you about 826michigan, which is a non-profit in Ann Arbor that is all about making writing fun and accessible for kids. They do tutoring, in-school work, projects at community housing, field trips for classrooms, everything. I’ve led workshops using theater games to teach descriptive language and artifacts from ancient Egypt to help develop characters. It’s all free, and the people are smart and hilarious. Check them out at http://www.826michigan.org/
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?
Jacqui: That old stereotype that people from the Midwest are nicer? It’s true. Also, I don’t care how bad you think your weather is; ours is worse.
Debbie: So true! Finally, some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?
Jacqui: I like Michiganian, but I’m probably more of a Michigabfest. Michigal? Michigoofball, I think.
Debbie: Michigoofball - a new category for our tally. I love it!
Jacqui, thank you, for being here today. And for all of you reading this interview, you should now depart this blog immediately, and head on over to Jacqui's, which is always entertaining and terrific.