In July of 2017, I served as moderator on a panel of four authors at a local bookstore. It was great fun, and I used the opportunity to ask all of the authors if they would be willing to schedule a virtual visit with one of my book groups some time. I think that all of them said they would, but I was such a fan of Midnight at the Electric that I choose to schedule Jodi Lynn Anderson with the 8th/9th grade book group, Bookmarked Jr. Edition. I will save the other three for another school year.
|Bookmarked Jr. Edition meets at lunch|
Though she was very willing, it took some work to make it happen. First, I scheduled the visit in November, but then I forgot, and the day before I realized that I hadn't prepared the students and asked them to read her book. She was happy to reschedule, but had to do it in January once the holidays were over. Then school started late after the holidays due to a day off due to bad weather. Then, we had to scrap using Skype because the district can't decide whether it should be allowed or it should be blocked. On January 10th, we did have a virtual visit with Anderson, but we used Apple's Face time to make it happen.
Just so you know, if you use Face time, you are either using it over wifi like we did with an iPad or you are using your phone's data. Face time does not use minutes on your phone, so you can make Face time calls internationally without costing an arm and a leg. We have a virtual visit planned for February with an author who lives in Ireland. I did a test today, and it will work fine for that visit.
First, Anderson discussed how she got into publishing before becoming a writer herself and then about her first experiences as a writer. Finally, she gave us some specifics about Midnight at the Electric when she responded to the students' questions. As a writer she wants to find magic, not the magic that characters can do like in Harry Potter but the magic of a story. With this book, she decided on electricity as a theme throughout the three stories that are told as she needed a connecting force. Also, she believes there is some magic in electricity.The tortoise serves to connect the three stories as well because she wanted a living creature to help glue them together. She also likes to write characters who are hard to love. Audry, the girl who is slated to travel to Mars certainly is prickly, but she learns to warm up to her elderly relative, Lily.
|Student walks up to microphone to ask a question|
Anderson explained that writing a book is like putting a puzzle together. She starts with the pictures in her mind, and then writes a detailed outline. In this book with three separate story lines from three different time periods, some of those puzzle pieces had to be moved several times before the book made sense. She alternated the three stories so that the reader is not reading about the events in chronological order.
Thank you, Jodi Lynn Anderson, for taking time from your schedule to speak with us. It was a great experience for my students. You can find more pictures from this visit on the library website.