A unique and compelling novel from a master storyteller. —School Library Journal, starred review
Please tell us about your book.
I love this book. It was so hard to write, though. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out how to put all these ideas I had into one cohesive book. It took a couple years and a multiple attempts, but I finally created a novel in which a neurotic, bowling-obsessed boy connects with a sad, writing-obsessed girl and forges a meaningful friendship that includes all the colorful people in their lives. It’s loosely based on the Cinderella story, and has a story within a story, which was a ton of fun to write.
Do your books generally begin with a character, an idea you’d like to explore, or the beginnings of a plot? How did In Your Shoes begin for you?
A friend talked to me about her bowling-obsessed, nerdy sons and husband. The stories she told were funny and heart-warming. “I have to write about this someday,” I told my friend, because I was recalling the part bowling played in my childhood and beyond. I let that idea simmer along with some others I wanted to explore — a girl with a compulsion to write in order to make sense of her world, a fairy tale written by the character that mirrors what’s happening in the actual novel and a smart, science-y, snarky narrator that pops in from time to time with fascinating facts and bits of wisdom. I always feel like it’s a bit of literary magic that somehow these cool disparate ideas form into a cohesive, engaging whole.
Words like tenderness, heart, humor, and compassion are often used to describe your books. What is it you hope your writing conveys to young readers?
I have a singular goal when I write for young people: that reading my books makes them feel less alone in this world.
Miles is a worrier. Amy is a writer. What do these characters have in common?
They both have big hearts and the capacity to be caring, supportive friends when most needed. Each of them has suffered loss . . . and spends the entirety of the story navigating their way through.
Let’s talk about your beautiful Christopher Silas Neal cover. We’ve got a bowling shoe, a polka dot tennis shoe, a barefoot Miles looking up to Amy, and a barefoot Amy lost in a book. How does it capture In Your Shoes?
How lucky that Christopher Silas Neal created such a perfect cover for In Your Shoes. The reader might wonder why Miles is looking at Amy like that and why Amy seems miles away (pardon the pun). And what is she writing in that book? The cover is an ideal invitation for the reader to open the book and begin looking for answers to their questions.