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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project Mayhem- The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers

“You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grownups, you write it for children.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

Middle grade is possibly the most exciting and challenging age group to write for. This is a time when imaginations are bursting with energy and minds are mature enough to process complicated plots, amazing adventures, scary mysteries, and gut-splitting humor (among other things). With that in mind, let me give a brief introduction to the fine folks over at Project Mayhem:

The Project Mayhem Team consists of nine talented middle grade authors (hold your breath and try to say them all in one go): Hilary Wagner, Jen K. Blom, Dee Garretson, Timothy Power, Andrew Jacobson, Adam Jay Epstein, Dawn Lairimore, Marissa Burt, and Rose Cooper. These amazing writers spin tales that take the reader to medieval landscapes, underground rat kingdoms, wildfires at Camp David, and the gossip mecca of girls’ bathrooms (and that’s just a taste—check out a list of books here). From the creepy-and-dangerous to the hilarious-and-angst-ridden, creative minds over at Project Mayhem are enthusiastic about what they do best—relating to the kiddie mind.

Need an example? Here’s a quote from Adam Jay Epstein, co-author of THE FAMILIARS (coming out September 7th):

“If you were driving through Great Neck, NY circa 1986, and saw a short curly-haired boy talking to himself while walking home from elementary school, you spotted me. During those suburban strolls, I would create amazing adventures for myself, pretending to be a wizard, superhero or space ranger. That world of imagination is still alive, constantly bubbling to the surface as I write.”

Hilary Wagner (author of NIGHTSHADE CITY, coming this October) has generously offered to answer a few questions about the new group:

Where did you get the idea for Project Mayhem, and how did the team come together (sorry, I guess that’s two questions)?

Well, there are so few blogs that focus on middle-grade books, so we all decided to go for it. We wanted to do something fun and different, dare I say kitschy? The Fight Club theme just seemed to work and it gave us all an excuse to be ourselves and be a bit off the wall! We want people to take something away from our posts, even if it's just a good laugh for the day! I think it takes a certain type of writer to choose to write for middle-graders and here we are!

What do you hope to get out of this collaboration?

I want readers to get a sense of who we are as a group of authors from all over the country, all from different walks of life, but all with the same goal--making kids happy with our books and getting different viewpoints about writing.

What kind of content do you hope to share?

We all want to share our own story as everyone's book debuts one by one. For aspiring writers, I think it's so great to hear how other writers did it and know it was NOT an easy road for any of us--no one just handed us an agent or a deal, it was tremendously hard work--so if a writer feels a bit down or hopeless, they know that's okay. It's not a sign you should give up! We were ALL there at one point! We will also be doing middle-grade book reviews, talking about the writing process for middle-grade novels (which is great, because all our styles are so different), having giveaways and spotlighting independent booksellers all over the country.

Who came up with the great name and logo?

*raises hand high* Me! I have a Bachelor in painting and I'm self-taught in graphic design--nothing fancy--but good enough to make our Fight Club soap, which I just love to pieces! (totally agree- the soap is very cool)

What advice would you give to yet-to-be-published writers who want to break into the world of children’s literature?

Errr...read our blog!! Ha, ha! ;) My advice would go back to what I said above. No matter what genre you write in, getting published is no easy task. It's hard, even painful. Keep at it! If you really love writing don't ever stop! Keep going until your 27th manuscript is finally sold! And we may just be writers, but if you do give up, we might come at you all Fight Club style, so take heed! We are wily! (*Jess cowers in fear/respect*)

Will you be posting updates about your current/future books?

Do fried bacon and peanut butter sandwiches taste great?? (Jess has bacon at home right now, and will be trying this shortly) Yes, we will be posting updates. Every win in writing is a time to celebrate and share! It keeps you going and let's others know it is attainable!

Thanks so much Hilary. As you can see, Hilary is awesome and funny and creative--and she got Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame to write a blurb for her book (hello--go check it out)!

Please head over there NOW and take a look; Project Mayhem is a blast of inspiration for any writer’s pen and heart :)

**At the top righthand side of this blog, there are links to each of the Project Mayhem authors--please stop by.


  1. I happen to love peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. And middle grade fiction

  2. *Back from lunch~ I happen to love pb and bacon too :)

  3. Love Hilary and am excited for the new Mayhem blog. Thanks for sharing the interview, ladies!

    And I'm so happy to have found you, Jess! I'm a Natural Resource person turned kid's writer and mom too. :o) Small worlds we blog-roll in, no? LOL!

  4. Jess, thanks so much for sharing about our little blog!

    My husband and I saw this show about a sandwich shop in NYC where all they have is different PB sandwiches! We had to try the Elvis, minus the bananas! My hub is allergic! It was so good, I'm a little embarrassed about how much I liked PB and bacon! Ha, ha! ;)

    Thanks again!!!


  5. Hilary,

    Thank YOU! I can't wait to read your book...is it October yet?

  6. Great interview! Thanks for passing on the word about Project Mayhem.

  7. Awesome! I love middle grade -- and dude! I *heart* that quote from Madeline L'Engle. Awesomesauce.