Where Are They Now: Tricia Springstubb

triciaspringstubbOne of my favorite new middle-grade reads of 2015 was Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb, so I was very excited to follow up with her since her last Creative Spaces interview.

Tricia Springstubb is the author of the middle-grade novels What Happened on Fox Street; Mo Wren, Lost and Found; Moonpenny Island; and Cody and the Fountain of Happiness. When she was last featured on Creative Spaces, her picture book Pheobe and the Digger had just been published. Her original Creative Spaces interview can be found here. Let’s see what she’s been up to since then . . .


summer desk 002

What have you been working on since Phoebe and the Digger?

Thanks so much for visiting me again. Lots has been going on since you were last here . . .

Moonpenny Island, in progress last time we talked, got itself written. Halleluiah! It was harder to write than any other book so far (let’s hope ever!). A photo of my desk while I was working on it would have featured gnawed fingernails and hunks of pulled-out hair. Over the course of four or five (possibly six–a merciful amnesia is setting in) drafts, I changed virtually everything about it except the setting. That’s based on a an actual Lake Erie island, a beautiful little lump of limestone that gets invaded by People From the Other Side during the summer, and is inhabited by fewer than 200 sturdy, eccentrics the rest of the year. Speaking of limestone: it’s fun to look back at my last interview and see the rocks and fossils I kept on my desk as I worked. I did an uncommon, for me, amount of research to write the book, and one thing I learned that will stick with me forever is this: evolution is not always about becoming the biggest and strongest. Our world needs the small, the quiet and the humble as much, if not more.

summer desk 004

Moonpenny got some starred reviews and somehow was written up in the New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/books/review/stella-by-starlight-and-moonpenny-island.html which about knocked my socks off.

Another thing that’s happened is a new series. Cody and the Fountain of Happiness came out in April, and Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe will pub spring 2016. These are books about the small things that loom so large in kids’ lives, filling them with happiness, worry, the thrill of discovery, the ache of loss. Like all kids today, Cody lives in a diverse world. The books are illustrated by a genius named Eliza Wheeler, and at least two more will follow. She draws the funniest, most adorable cats. Just finished writing book #3 and now pondering #4…

I’ve also written a new middle grade novel that will come out in June 2016. Every Single Second is a departure for me, because it deals with some heavy-duty contemporary issues. The central event is a fatal shooting and its enormous repercussions for two friends who’ve grown apart but find themselves thrown back together by the tragedy. It was an emotional challenge to write. Every afternoon I’d take a long, heavy-hearted walk, thinking about Nella and Angela and what would become of them and their families. Luckily, I have an unshakeable faith in us humans, and especially in kids. The book’s ending brims with hope—the power we have to make choices, however small, and to create change. I’m nervous about what readers will think, but it’s a book I had to write. I’ll be so grateful if it sparks debate and discussion.

Have your work habits/routine changed in the past two years, and if so how?

I’m so boring. I still have the very same desk, same computer, same cats, even the same coffee mug! I guess I’ve found what works for me, and so I doggedly stick with it.

Any newfound wisdom to share?

Though my work habits haven’t changed, my personal life has had its ups and downs since we last talked. I’ve learned to see every day (every single second!) as precious and full of possibility. I’m also thinking much more about kindness. It’s one thing that is never wasted, never without consequence. May this wisdom find its way into my work!