21 March 2014

First Line Fridays: Kate Hannigan

Welcome back to first line Friday!

Each Friday, I invite a guest author to share the opening line from his or her upcoming release and a favorite book. I was out of town, and didn't manage to get last week's up in time, so you get two this week!

Today's guest is Kate Hannigan, debut author of CUPCAKE COUSINS, coming May 13 from Disney-Hyperion.

Children's author Kate Hannigan writes middle-grade fiction and non-fiction books. She also interviews other writers for young readers on her blog, Author Of

Look for Kate's first historical fiction for middle-grade readers, The Detective's Assistant, to be published in April 2015 with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 

Here's the blurb for her book:
Cupcake Cousins (Hyperion-Disney, May 2014) tells the story of almost-10-year-old cousins Willow and Delia, who have been asked to be flower girls in their aunt's lakeside wedding. But the cousins would much rather beflour girls and whip up amazing surprises during the family's weeklong vacation at the lake. With a good helping of chaos and a dash of disaster, the cousins have plenty on their plates this summer.

There are few things I like better than cupcakes--this sounds great!!

Ok- Let's get started:

What are the opening lines of your book?
"Willow scowled at the flower-girl dress like it was growing in a patch of poison ivy. Every time she looked at it, she had the same thoughts.
That it was pink.
That it was awful.
That it should not come anywhere close to her skin."

Where these lines set from the first draft? And if not, how many times do you think you've changed them?
They were there from the beginning, though poked and prodded somewhat. While I revised the entire book many times over, this opening image was there from the start.

Why do you think this opening is perfect for your novel?
I wanted to give this book an outdoor feel. It's set in August at a summer beach house the family rents each year for a weeklong vacation. I wanted to capture that sense of nature and being immersed in it – both for kids who DO know what it's like to spend the day coated in sand and sunblock, and for those who do not. 
So including imagery from nature – as well as the dread for the upcoming wedding – right off the bat was my goal with this opening.

Give us your favorite opening line(s) from a favorite book, and tell us why you love them.
"For a long time after that summer, the four Penderwick sisters still talked of Arundel. Fate drove us there, Jane would say. No, it was the greedy landlord who sold our vacation house on Cape Cod, someone else would say, probably Skye."

I am a HUGE fan of Jeanne Birdsall's "Penderwicks" series, and I can recall vividly the day my local indie bookseller handed me a copy of the first book. It is just so well-written. Even from this first little morsel, we already have a sense of Jane and Skye's temperaments, and the warm glow of nostalgia that colors the whole story.

When I wrote my book, I kept "The Penderwicks" and the non-fiction "Last Child in the Woods" nearby for inspiration. I wanted to create a sort of timeless summer story of kids free to roam outdoors and enjoy the independence they can find only in nature. Of kids pursuing their interests free of heavy parental disruption. Of suspense and excitement but where the stakes weren't too high and no dogs die.

Stop by and say hello to Kate on Twitter at @KateChicago or on her website at KateHannigan.com. Or check out her children's lit blog AuthorOf.blogspot.com, where she interviews authors of some of the best books for young readers.

And don't forget to Preorder Cupcake Cousins

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