Saturday, August 25, 2018

Author Interview: Sherry Ellis


read our review of the book
We're excited to interview Sherry Ellis and find out the story behind Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China. Sherry is an award-winner author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Ellis, her husband, and their two children live in Atlanta, Georgia. Without further ado, take it away, Sherry! 




What inspired you to write Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China?

When I was a kid, I tried to dig a hole to China. Maybe because my parents said I couldn’t and I wanted to prove them wrong. Since I lived in Florida at the time, I got nothing but a hole full of water. But, what if you could dig a hole to China? What might happen? I bet a lot of kids wonder the same thing. So, I made a story that starts with a hole to China.

How long did it take you to write Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China?

Ten years! I’m not kidding. The first draft took about four months, but it has been revised many times. It started as a story written in the third person point of view. Feedback from a publisher who had rejected it, prompted me to change the point of view to alternating first person, where the main characters, Bubba and Squirt take turns telling the story. I think it’s helped readers get to know their personalities better.

You must have done a lot of research for this book. What is your research process like? Was there any aspect of your research for Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China (or another book) that was the most interesting?

Yes, you are absolutely right. I did an enormous amount of research. I went to the library and got a lot of books on China. Then I read through them, taking notes as I went. I found things I thought were interesting and worked to incorporate them into the story. I
learned about the history of China, specifically focusing on the Qin dynasty which was the time when Emperor Ch’in lived. (He’s the ghost in the story.) I also learned about the language and customs of China. I had a lot of fun researching Chinese superstitions and ghost stories. I think kids are going to enjoy those elements of the book! 
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl is one of my favorite books from childhood. I remember my teacher in the second grade read it, one chapter a day, after recess. I couldn’t wait for the following day to find out what was going to happen next. I’ve been influenced by many authors. I’d say the biggest influences for Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China were Mary Pope Osborne, the author of the Magic Tree House series, and Rick Riordan, author of The Heroes of Olympus series. 

You have written numerous picture books, but Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China is your first chapter book. Can you tell us some of the things you noticed about writing for different ages? 

Writing a middle grade book is a lot different than writing picture books. I think the biggest difference is how much more descriptive the text for chapter books must be. You don’t have pictures to tell the story. You have to do it through words, and this includes using all of the senses. You also have to give your characters depth and some kind of journey. In some ways, there’s a lot more to think about when you write a chapter book. It’s definitely been a learning experience for me!

You are a professional musician. Do you think you will ever write a book that involves musical instruments?

Many people have told me I should. I’m toying around with a couple of ideas for a picture book. We’ll see what happens. One thing I made sure I included in Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China was information about a Chinese violin called an erhu. I couldn’t resist!


Where do you like to write? Do you listen to music while you are writing?

Usually, I write at my desk or at the kitchen table. But since I write everything with a pencil and notebook, it’s transportable. I’ve written stories at my daughter’s ballet studio, a football stadium, and even backstage while I wait to perform for concerts. I do not listen to music while I write. I find it very distracting. I prefer silence, so I can listen to the voices of the characters inside my head.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

I have travelled to many places, and although I’ve seen many beautiful countries, I’d have to say that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but the United States. I like the open spaces, the green grass lawns, and the variety of landscapes across the country.  I’m happy right where I am.

Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes, I’m working on the possible second book of Bubba and Squirt’s adventures. It’s called, Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Treasure. In this one, the two will travel through the vortex from the first book and end up in Belize. They’ll have to stop thieves from stealing ancient Mayan artifacts, and in the process will discover an amazing treasure.

Where can we purchase your books?
Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China can be found on  Amazon and Barnes and Noble. To see all of my books, you can visit my Amazon Author page.



Meet the author 
Book 'Em North Carolina: 9/22/18

Milton Book Festival:11/10/18 



Enter the giveaway for one of three paperback copies of Bubba and Squirts Big Dig to China! Comment below for a chance to win or comment on the review. Three winners will be randomly chosen. Good luck!

39 comments:

  1. What a fun interview! I love the idea of trying to dig a hole to China in Florida! Have a great weekend, hugs, Valerie

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    1. I didn't expect the hole to fill so quickly with water! Thanks for visiting!

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  2. What a delightful and informative interview. Thank you all.

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  3. Great interview indeed. True, there is a big difference from chapter books and picture books. I'm not sure I was going to China, but I dug a big hole in the backyard as a kid, until I hit a giant rock.

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    1. Can't go very far with a rock in the way! ;)

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  4. This sounds like a delightful book! I love the whole "digging to China" slant. I grew up hearing about that. As a former sixth grade teacher, I can recognize that kids will love that book, and they study China in that grade, so this would be a great classroom addition.

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    1. I'm hoping teachers will use it in their classrooms. I've written teacher resources that can be found on my website.

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  5. What a fascinating idea for a book, and it's always really cool to learn about the research tied to a story. It's also cool that you write your stories instead of typing like back in the day. Sure hope you're doing great this Saturday! Hugs...RO

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    1. There's something about having a pencil and paper that I really like. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. That's a really long time to work on a book. Love the premise though, this sounds really interesting.

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    1. The book underwent several rewrites! So happy to finally see it in print!

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  7. I love the concept of this book. History is one of my favorite subjects to read and I know nothing about China. I am looking forward to reading about your explorers. Congratulations.

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    1. Thanks, Beverly! I like learning about the history and culture of other countries, too.

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  8. I love the idea of trying to dig a hole to China!
    When growing up our youngest son told us he was digging a hole to Australia!

    All the best Jan

    (PS Please do not enter me for the giveaway)

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    1. I've heard people in England talk about digging a hole to Australia. It would be fun to see what would happen there if they made it! Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Hi Sherry - you've certainly done your homework for your book and your characters ... and can see why you'd want Bubba and Squirt talking up their lives. Fascinating I think to learn about the history ... well done - and very good luck ... so glad you included the Ehru ... congratulations and thanks to DMS for interviewing you ... did she need to go to China, or did she find you happily ensconced in the States? Fun interview ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Haha! I'm in the States right now. But next week? Who knows!

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  10. Thank you for having me as a guest! I really appreciate it!

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    1. Sherry- We loved having you on the blog! So happy to help spread the word about you and your latest book! :)
      ~Jess and Stephanie

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  11. This sounds like an awesome read, Sherry. Wishing you much success.

    Hey, Jess. Stephanie.

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  12. I am excited about Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China, a chapter book ten years in the making. I like the story concept and the fact that young readers will receive an education as they take this magical journey. I think it is a splendid idea to have this book segue into the next Bubba and Squirt adventure, continuing what is sure to be a successful series.

    Sherry and I have a lot in common. We were/are both Florida residents, we both like to write things down in a notebook, and we are both distracted by music and noise while we are writing creatively. We need silence to hear ourselves think so that we can develop ideas and characters.

    You can be proud of your latest achievement, Sherry. Surely Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China is destined for success!

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    1. Thank you, Shady for all of your kind comments! You are so supportive and I truly appreciate that!

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  13. Hi, Sherry! Best of luck with the new book.

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  14. Probably not many kids who have heard of an erhu.
    They're off to some Mayan temples next, huh?
    Congratulations, Sherry!

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    1. Thanks, Alex! The plan is for them to go to the Mayan Temples next. We'll see how the first book does.

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  15. Ten years?! Wow! Your dedication to this book is impressive, Sherry. The ghost element sounds so intriguing!

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    1. I really believed in this idea, so I never dismissed the book. It's so nice that it's actually going to be in print now. I hope the wait was worth it!

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  16. Thank you for featuring Sherry. I can't wait to read Bubba & Squirt's Mayan adventure.

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    1. The critique group is looking at it chapter at a time. When they are done, I will make any more revisions I think are needed and then send it to my editor. It's really going to depend on how well the first book does. But I'll share my thoughts about it when I see you next month.

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    2. L. Diane Wolf- I look forward to reading the next book too! :)

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  17. This was a fun but informative interview!

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  18. Great interview! I love that you're working on a possible follow up. :)

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  19. What a great interview! Congrats with everything Sherry! Big Hugs!

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