Today I'm thrilled to have my friend and critique partner, Trish Bailey, here to celebrate the release of her middle grade debut, The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan. Trish is a talented writer who writes with a captivating voice and lots of heart. I'm so excited that readers are going to have the chance to get to know Kit, a character full of spunk and personality, and have the chance to be swept up in her adventures.
Thirteen-year-old Kit Donovan made a lot of promises to her dying mother, and the most difficult one to keep – the one about being a proper lady – seems downright impossible in a place like Goldfield, Nevada. The corrupt owner the gold mine seems to hold sway over the whole town. When Kit convinces Papa to speak out against the dangers in the mine, trouble finds her family.
Now she must find a way to expose the misdeeds before it’s too late. With help from an unlikely friend, a Shoshone boy, and a newspaperman, she puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work. But is she really brave enough to stand up for what’s right?
What factors influenced your choice to write for a MG audience?
I love middle-grade kids. They’re the best. Wild and funny, heartfelt and serious. They’re always about growth – physical, emotional, social. The middle-grade years are all about stepping up to new challenges – challenges that take you just beyond what you know to be safe and secure and sure. New schools, new friendships, new insights on parents and the world – it’s all there in middle-grade stories. The voices are always clear and rich; the struggles are real and meaningful; and in the end there is always a glimmer of hope. Plus, there’s usually not much kissing, because…yuck.
Your main character, Kit, has so much spunk and such a strong personality. Did The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan come to you originally as a story idea or did you hear Kit’s voice first?
I heard Kit’s voice first. She showed up the minute I wondered what it would be like to have lived in Goldfield, Nevada during the boom years. She was sad and mad and ready to tell me all about it. Her voice and her emotional truth were there in the beginning and didn’t change even as the structure and the plot evolved.
I always enjoy hearing revision stories. I know The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan went through multiple iterations and started out formatted as diary entries. Can you tell us what factors influenced your decision to change the story to its current format and how you feel it improved in the process?
It was so hard. I kept getting conflicting feedback about the format. Some people loved it. Others didn’t – but no one could really articulate why. I didn’t want to lose Kit’s voice – but the deeper I got in the story the more I knew that something was off. Eventually I made my way to a writing retreat where one of the instructors said that she loved the voice and the story – she just wanted it all to feel more immediate. She suggested I ditch the journal and make it all happen in real time. And that did it. Make it more immediate. So simple. But it took me so long to get there. Once I rewrote the first chapter, I knew I was on the right track. The story just came together. The plot tightened, and I was able to ditch some scenes that were historically accurate but not necessary. And, best of all, I think it made Kit’s voice even stronger.
Do you have a favorite motivational phrase/quote?
I think my go-to phrase is one Kit shares: How hard can it be?
It never fails to get me started.
It never fails to get me started.
It’s apparent from your blog that you are a dog lover. Middle grade is a great audience for dog stories. (My personal favorite is A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean.) What’s your favorite dog story?
I’m a dog lover – and since I’m not yet a dog owner, I’m a fan of dog books – as long as the dog stays alive. As a child, Jack in the Little House books was my favorite – and I shed a fair amount of tears over that pooch. My current favorite dog book is Kristin Gray’s Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge. It’s not a dog story exactly – but it’s a girl wants dog story – and I can totally relate to that. After that I’d go with Barbara O’Connor’s Wish. The cover says it all.
Is there a dog story in your future?
I think so. I'm working on two books right now – and both have dogs that play key roles in the story.
Patricia Bailey grew up in a small town in Oregon. She now lives in a slightly larger town in Oregon with her husband and three cats. She spends her time hiking mountain trails, scribbling story ideas on sticky notes, and longing for a dog. The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan is her first novel.
Learn more about Patricia by visiting her here:
Look for The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan here:
Trish is giving away a signed ARC to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment for her below to be entered. For an extra entry, head over to Patricia's blog, check out her book trailer, and leave a comment there as well. I'll announce the winner here next week. Good luck!