Description from GoodReads:
Twelve-year-old AJ dreads spending an entire month living with her strict Grandma Jo. Not only does her grandmother dictate how she walks, what she eats, and which rooms she can enter, she fills all AJ's free time with boring sewing lessons. Grandma Jo wants nothing more than to transform her adventurous, fun-loving granddaughter into a prim and proper lady.
But AJ’s dull summer takes a sharp turn when she discovers that her grandmother's "bridge group" is actually a heist club. When Grandma Jo offers to let AJ learn lock-picking instead of embroidery in exchange for help with a few capers, AJ is happy to join her grandmother's madcap band of thieves, who claim to steal only for ethical reasons. But even the most respectable ladies can hide truly surprising secrets, and AJ finds she must decide for herself what it means to be one of the good guys.
Today, Alison Cherry stops by to talk a little bit about her new Middle Grade novel, THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB. Thank you Alison for visiting Kid Lit Frenzy.
In looking over the books you have written, THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB seems like a departure from your Young Adult books. What prompted the change?
It's really only a departure in terms of age group! At their cores, all my books are about relationships between girls and women, set against backdrops that raise the stakes and the absurdity level. RED is a mother-daughter story set in the world of beauty pageants, and FOR REAL is a sister story set on a reality TV show. I think a grandmother/granddaughter story set in the world of heists fits right in! As for the departure into middle grade, I wanted the chance to write something with completely goofy, over-the-top elements, and that's hard to get away with in YA. Kids are much more open to that kind of thing!
THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB would have been my favorite type of book to read at age 10. What were you reading at 10 and did you ever imagine yourself as a character featured in one of those books? What adventures did you imagine yourself doing?
I was a huge Judy Blume fan at age 10—I remember working my way down the shelf at the library, reading each of her books in alphabetical order. I loved Katherine Patterson, particularly The Master Puppeteer, and the first three Anne of Green Gables books. I definitely tried to imagine myself as Anne, especially since we share a hair color, but she was so much braver and more daring than I was that she was a bit hard to relate to. I also adored Matilda beyond reason, and I have pretty clear memories of trying to tip over a glass of water with my mind. (Shockingly enough, it did not work.)
Every author does some research for books they write (even for realistic fiction), what kind of research did you do for THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB and did you have any favorite discoveries?
I watched tons of videos about lock-picking on YouTube—I don't think I ever truly understood how locks and keys worked until I wrote this book. I also did lots of research on parrot behavior, including talking to an exotic bird expert. I had no idea parrots could make so many noises aside from talking—creaking door sounds, car alarms, phone ringtones, etc. It's pretty amazing.
Can you share a favorite part of THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB without giving away any spoilers?
My favorite scene in the book involves a parrot singing a Christmas carol. I will say no more than that. :)
What is your creative writing process like? Do you have any particular routines when you write? Can we get a picture of your writing space?
I'm a huge plotter—I can't start writing until I'm pretty clear on the ending—and I always write in order. My favorite place to work is a cafe near my house—picture attached! They have amazing waffles and baked brie sandwiches and mint-lime iced tea, and the baristas all know my name. My brain works best between the hours of 11 and 5, so I'm usually at the computer then. But I'm not very good at sticking to a routine, and I can write pretty much anywhere, as long as it's relatively quiet and there's room for my laptop. The only place I absolutely can't get work done is on an airplane; flying freaks me out too much.
What is your favorite indie bookstore? Can you tell us a little about it?
My all-time favorite bookstore is the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, MA. I have such excellent memories of it from when I lived in Boston—I'd always stop by after I took an exam and buy myself a book as a reward. But my favorite local indie is BookCourt in Brooklyn. It's really big for a Brooklyn storefront, I love the open-plan layout and the way the books are arranged, and it has a large children's section with a reading area. I've had all my launch parties there, and the staff is super friendly and helpful!
Check out Alison Cherry's THE CLASSY CROOKS CLUB now available at your local indie bookstore.