ERIN DIONNE writes contemporary books for middle grade readers that are "smart with heart." From humorous novels such as Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies and The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, to her 14 Day Mystery Series (beginning with Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking), Erin's books explore the trials and tribulations of junior high. She lives outside of Boston with her family and teaches at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts.
You can learn more about MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING here.
If you are interested in hosting an appearance by Erin Dionne at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form, send an email to penguinauthorvisits[at]gmail.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
Author Appearance Q&A with Erin Dionne
What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What do you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?
I try to be a dynamic, engaging presenter who tailors presentations specific to my audience and my books. I offer six different presentations for school and library visits—ranging from the writing process and how books get made, to Shakespeare history and readers' theater, to Boston mysteries. I'm also happy to mix and match/alter presentations for a specific school's interests and needs. I see my job as reinforcing what teachers are doing in their classroom regarding writing and reading, so it's important to me that a school feels that what I'm talking about dovetails with their educational goals. I'm a college English teacher in my "other" life, and so I'm very comfortable in front of groups of all sizes. My presentations are very interactive—and funny.
For smaller groups, I love doing my "Creating Character" workshop. We talk about why characters are important and what an author needs to know in order to create a vivid character. Then, I show students a photo of a person and give them 20 questions to answer about that character. Kids love seeing the different directions everyone takes given the same starting point. We then create an opening paragraph for a story based on that character. It's one of my favorite presentations, and suitable for a wide range of students.
When it comes to conferences, I am open—I enjoy being on a panel, presenting one of my craft-based sessions, or leading a topic-based discussion.
What makes your author appearances unique?
I bring a LOT of visual aids. I show students my drafts, rejection letters, notebooks where I brainstorm and organize stories, ARCs, rejected covers, editorial letters, photos of me as a kid, the book pile next to my bed…anything I can to really impart to them that writing is a process and requires a range of tools that they are familiar with. We talk a lot about how professional authors and student writers all go through the same steps to create something special.
I've also created writing prompts, discussion questions, and activities around each of my novels. This way teachers and librarians can keep the conversation going after my visit ends.
Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
I love speaking to adults, family book clubs, library organizations, etc. Those audiences seem to be most interested in the writing process, so we go over those steps, and we also end up talking about tips and tricks for managing writing and life.
What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?
If students have access to my books before or after an appearance, that's always helpful. Students don't need to be familiar with my books to see my presentations, but I find that afterwards, they want to read them!
Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?
Yes! I love traveling. Talking to readers, no matter where they are, is one of my joys.
Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?
Yes! As a matter of fact, three schools in Houston, TX, brought me out there last spring. I enjoy meeting kids from different places and it's energizing for me to spend time with so many readers.
What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?
Hopefully they'll have a better understanding of not just the writing process, but that they have what it takes to be a writer—they just need to develop their tools.
What was your favorite/most interesting/most memorable appearance experience?
A junior high marching band performed for me in Texas—AND they let me conduct! It was pretty awesome.
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