genre: contemporary fiction
setting: middle school
age range: 9 and up
read an excerpt
Please tell us about your book.
Abigail and her two best friends are poised for a life of pom-poms and popularity. But not only does Abigail end up in a different homeroom, the pom squad doesn’t turn out exactly as she planned. Then everyone’s least favorite teacher pairs Abigail up with the school’s biggest outcast, Gabby Marco, for a year-long “Friendly Letter Assignment.” Abigail can hardly believe her bad luck. As her so-called best friends and entire future of popularity seem to be slipping away, Abigail has to choose between the little bit of fame she has left or letting it go to be a true friend.
Could you tell readers a little about your writing process?
My story ideas always come by way of a character. Usually along with that character there is some type of premise for the story. The part that is difficult for me is the plot. As I write my first draft, I discover the “possibilities” for my plot and those discoveries lead to lots of revision. It’s in the midst of those many revisions where I uncover what the plot of my story is really supposed to be. This leads to even further revision to make the writing and the plot as strong as they can be.
What are some challenges associated with writing middle grade fiction?
I think resisting the urge to preach to readers is always a challenge. I’m a former teacher, and I’m used to guiding young people and helping them learn. Books do teach lessons, but the lessons readers take from books shouldn’t come from a preachy author but rather from the story itself and from the reader’s own discovery. Young readers will learn a lot from the books they read, as long as we let them learn those things on their own.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
One of the themes in AWLAYS, ABIGAIL is bullying. Abigail has to make some really tough choices in the book, and ultimately, she has to decide if she will sacrifice her own reputation to be a true friend to the school’s biggest outcast. Young people make choices like that in classrooms all over the country every day, and I think as educators we often spend too much time telling young people what the right choice is, but we don’t spend enough time talking about how difficult it is to make that right choice. ALWAYS, ABIGAIL is all about finding the kind of courage it takes to make that right choice.
One advance reader copy of ALWAYS, ABIGAIL is up for grabs. To enter, please leave a comment about why you’d like to read Nancy’s book below. Contest closes Sunday, 9/21. US residents only, please.
Congratulations to Susan Dee, our winner!
I love her writing style–lists are so much fun!
Susan Dee says
I loved This Journal Belongs to Rachet. Nancy creates strong characters that readers instantly connect with!
I want to read about Abigail. I love friendship stories. This is a new author to me.
Nancy J . Cavanaugh says
Thank you to all who have commented! So wonderful to hear from readers, and I’m so happy to hear you enjoy my books!
Margaret Simon says
As I am trying to write middle grade fiction, I love finding like-minded authors who believe that the way to the right answer, the right choice, is through the redemption of the character and not the preachiness of the author. We have to write real stuff that involves the reader in making the choice alongside the character. I think this book does that. Look forward to reading more. Thanks for the offer.