Shari Green is an award-winning MG author who lives on Vancouver Island in Canada. She was also my Pitch Wars mentor for 2017 and I am in awe of her generosity and insight. Her third novel, Missing Mike, is being released in the U.S. on September 14, 2018. Canada already had the pleasure this past spring. Below is an interview so you can get to know her better before you buy her book(s).
Could you please give a brief overview of your writing journey?
After dabbling in nonfiction for several years, I heard about NaNoWriMo* late in 2005 and dove into fast-drafting my first fiction manuscript. I was hooked! I wrote a couple more novels (all YA), attended conferences (SiWC) to learn more about writing, started a critique group, met amazing writer-friends, and rode the publishing roller coaster. In 2014 my first MG manuscript was selected for PitchWars. I worked with a terrific mentor, and the book eventually sold to Pajama Press and was published in 2016. Since then, I’ve published two more MG novels with Pajama Press.
(*NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, when writers try to complete a 50000-word first draft in 30 days. Crazy-making, fun, and possible!)
Do you remember what prompted you to write Missing Mike?
I’d been wanting to write a dog story for a while, and last summer, I was daydreaming possible storylines, but meanwhile, British Columbia (my home province) was having its worst-ever wildfire season. Fires were bad in Alberta, too, and in California. Every day the news had stories and images of the fires, and of course I was impacted and influenced by that. My story became the story of 11-year-old Cara, whose family is evacuated due to wildfires, and her dog Mike, who gets left behind.
Do you consider yourself a dog person? Or do you like cats the same amount?
Absolutely a dog person. I like cats, too, but I’ve never had one in my family – it’s always been dogs.
Tell me about the dog that informs the character of the dog in your book.
Mike’s sweet, loyal nature is a reflection of my dear Mac – a Brittany Spaniel who owned a big piece of my heart for all of his 13 years. But the similarities end there, really. Mike is fictional. He’s a rescue dog, a mutt that was injured in a fight with coyotes. He had a loving family once, and after some time building trust, he and Cara fell madly in love. (That love part? That wasn’t hard to imagine. 😊)
Is Missing Mike the original title of the book? Or did you have a different working title?
My working title was One Hundred Words for Home, which stuck until final edits.
Have you ever experienced an uncontrolled fire?
No. The BC wildfires weren’t particularly close to where I live, although my family has a tiny cabin in the central BC wilderness, and as we kept tabs on the fires last summer, we knew we might lose it (we didn’t). Since I fortunately didn’t have first-hand experience to help make Cara’s story realistic, I relied on the stories of others who went through evacuations and loss.
Pajama Press is a Canadian publisher, so it’s only fair that Canada gets to have Missing Mike sooner than the U.S. Is there another reason for the later U.S. release? Are any of the words changed?
No changes! 😊 As for the release date, my understanding is that the U.S. publishing machine just takes longer because it’s so big. So while Canada was ready to roll out the book for Spring, the U.S. team required a longer lead-up for promotion, catalogs, reviews, etc., so it was planned as a Fall title there. (This may be a not-quite-accurate explanation, lol.)
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
It’s still in the early stages, so I don’t like to say too much, but I can tell you it’s a contemporary middle grade novel that includes friendship and hockey and mental health issues and… Never mind, that’s all I’m saying, haha.
What are some of your favorite books from your growing-up years?
I loved Anne of Green Gables (still do!). I read all the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew and Little House books. I loved A Wrinkle in Time and Narnia and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and I loved The Diary of Anne Frank, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Outsiders. So many good books!
How do you have time to be an author who’s put out three books in three years and also be a nurse, a mother, a wife, a friend, a mentor? (Because I think that’s amazing…!)
I kind of can’t believe the three-books-in-three-years part. It’s been a whirlwind! I think there are a number of factors that help make it possible for me to keep writing at this pace. First, I’ve got a supportive partner. (And further to that, I’ve got a wonderful network of writer-friends. Find your tribe, people! It makes all the difference.) Second, I’m fortunate to only work my “day job” half-time. (I love being a nurse, but it’s a demanding profession, for sure – working half-time still helps pay the bills, while allowing me the energy and time to write.) Third, as a mom of four now-grown kids, I learned over the years to make use of snippets of time between kids’ activities, nap time, etc., and to work in less-than-ideal surroundings (noise, clutter, and interruptions). And finally, deadlines! Whether self-imposed or contract-imposed, deadlines help me get the work done.
I think we all need to find whatever helps us actually write, whether it’s bribes, rewards, deadlines, losing the wifi password, writing dates at a coffee shop, an accountability partner, goal-setting, vision boards, or what have you. We have to do what it takes. That being said, I also believe in giving ourselves grace – instead of beating ourselves up when our writing is lagging or we fail to reach a goal, we need to forgive ourselves, pick ourselves up, and try again. Mostly, we need to keep showing up.
Such great questions, Judy! Thank you so much!
Thank you, Shari!
If you’d like to pre-order Missing Mike, Shari encourages you to order from your local indie book store. It’s also available on Amazon, and you can review it on Goodreads here. (Clicking on any highlighted words will connect you to links telling you more about each subject.)