Thank you Tracy Holczer for including me in your blog tour for The Secret Hum of a Daisy.
The Secret Hum of a Daisy
by Tracy Holczer
Putnam Juvenile (May 1, 2014)
Description from GoodReads:
Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.
After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.
Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.
Tracy took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her new book, writing, her personal book journey and more. Thank you Tracy for visiting with me and for writing such a wonderful book.
This is your debut novel and I know that you have been working on it for awhile, how does it feel to finally see it out in the wild and also to see that is was a SLJ starred review & top pick, and a starred review from PW, and though not a starred review an excellent review from Kirkus?
When I sat down to write a novel, my wildest dream was to be published. But what fuelled that dream, was the idea that someone, somewhere would read my story and feel a personal connection to it. To have people personally connecting and enjoying the story enough to give it their best praise is more than a little surreal. Ultimately, I’m thrilled about the great reviews because I’m hopeful it will get into the hands of more kids.
The Secret Hum of a Daisy (SHoaD) has been well received by teachers, librarians, and other adults. I know the book hasn't been out for long, but have you received any emails or letters from middle grade readers yet?
All three of my kids went to the same elementary school and two of them had the same sixth grade teacher (Hi, Mrs. Hall!). She has been a wonderful support and advocate for the book so when it came out in galley form, I gave a copy to her and she read it aloud to her class. I was nervous about this as HUM has such a prominent emotional journey. But Mrs. Hall assured me the class was enjoying the treasure hunt elements and the family mystery as well. When she was finished, I visited with the class and was overwhelmed by the response. A few wrote letters, some made art, others folded cranes. They had such wonderful and astute questions about Grace and her journey. I got many hugs and one proposal of marriage. So I’d say that was a win!
One of the things that struck me about SHoaD when I started was the lovely writing voice. There was a lyrical or poetic feel about the book, which always makes me stop to savor the richness of the language, and also to admire the skill of the writer. Were you influenced by poetry or particular writers as you were developing your craft?
When I first started writing, I went to a workshop where I had my first experience with professional critiques. The agent told me she had no idea what I was trying to do with my story, and the group critique was equally dismal. They told me I had no voice. I’m not sure there is a worse criticism of one’s writing than being told you have no voice. Interestingly, I didn’t get my feelings hurt, though. I just figured I had a ways to go. Boy did I. It wasn’t until I was mentored years later by Patti Gauch in Chautauqua—a program put on by the Highlights Foundation—that I even understood what “voice” was. Patti pointed out the sentences that actually carried my voice and once I recognized myself, I was able to stay true. Sounds strange, but I was so caught up in thinking my “voice” was weird, that I resisted it for a long time.
As far as influences go, I have always loved Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou. I haven’t read poetry widely as most of it feels a bit esoteric to me. But I have loved those three because they are accessible. I don’t consider myself to be all that poetic, really. I do far too much galumphing for that. Both metaphorically and literally. But I also steeped myself in middle grade books by Sharon Creech, Katherine Paterson and Cynthia Rylant to name just a few. So their influence has definitely leaked in.
Sometimes the most obvious things are right in front of us, but we have trouble seeing it. Maybe we are too close to the situation or just not ready to see what others can clearly see. Grace seems to struggle a lot with that issue in this book? Was that intentional on your part as the writer or did Grace resist what you were trying to show her?
Yes and no as to my intention. No because Grace’s circumstances dictated her story. As a writer who starts with character first, I had to follow her lead. She was a very stubborn girl, who was street smart and had grown a hard shell to protect herself. Grace did what any kid would have done in her situation, I believe. She desperately wanted what was right in front of her, but had to battle deep feelings of disloyalty, grief and confusion. Also, to a certain degree, she’s punishing herself.
And yes, it was intention on my part because this is a snapshot of a dysfunctional family. Not to an extreme degree, but dysfunctional none-the-less. In dysfunctional families there tends to be an alternate reality of How Things Work. Unravelling that is hard. This was a really important element of the story for me.
What was your own book journey like as a child and teen or did you find books later? Do you have particular books that acted as the back drop to your life as a child and teen?
I had a strange book journey. I have no memory of enjoying reading until I was eleven and read Little Women. That book completely changed the way I looked at reading. Not long after, my parents didn’t want me reading, afraid it was fanning the flames of my introversion. But then fate intervened, and we moved into a house across the street from the Cupertino Public Library when I was twelve. I snuck over there every weekend and those librarians fed me books. But mostly, they left me alone to read what I wanted. No matter which shelves I pulled from. I remember reading a biography of Marilyn Monroe, Flowers in the Attic, some Stephen King along with The Hobbit, and some Agatha Christie mysteries. My taste was eclectic and still is.
What is in your TBR pile currently?
Right now, my TBR pile is empty. I can’t read when I’m writing. The stories don’t stick with me and I find myself reading the same page over and over again. And I don’t make a pile because there are already too many of those in my house. So here is a picture of all my Already Read Books.
What is/are your favorite indie bookstores and why?
Oh how I love Once Upon a Time in Montrose, California. They are my local indie and I have been buying books there since we first moved into the area and my kids were tiny. My middle girl and I stood in line at midnight for the Deathly Hallows dressed up like we lived at Hogwarts, and made wands out of sticks that the store provided (I still have hers), and we’ve been to countless author visits and book signings. Maureen Palacio and Kris Vreeland are very dear to my heart and have cheered me on for all the years I was writing. Plus they have always been great at recommending books for my whole family.
If you could do a book tour with another author (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Definitely Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird is my very favorite novel in all the world. Plus there is so much mystery surrounding why she never wrote another story and why she is so reclusive. I couldn’t resist.
What is the view from where you write?
There are many views from where I write since I am mostly in coffee shops all around La Crescenta. But when I’m home, I plop in the middle of my sofa. The view isn’t the greatest (especially now since my husband’s truck is in the way) because it’s a view of a wall. We live down an easement which means our front neighbor’s back yard wall is in our front yard. However, it does make me feel cozy and tucked in. And there is the bonus of no street traffic to distract me from my made up worlds.
Where to find out more about Tracy Holczer: website | facebook | twitter |
For a signed copy of The Secret Hum of a Daisy, you can contact Once Upon a Time. (Note: Make sure and note it in the comments of the purchase that you would like an authographed copy, or they won't know about the autograph.)
Check out all of the links in the Blog Tour:
May 7: Leandra Wallace
May 8: Heidi Schulz
May 9: AuthorOf
May 10: Read Now, Sleep Later
May 11: Kidlit Frenzy
May 12: Literary Rambles
May 14: Smack Dab in the Middle
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