Friday, April 1, 2016

The Writer's Voice: Where Is Erin Petti Now?

One of the last entries I read during TWV 2012 was for an MG adventure then called THELMA BEE. The voice immediately hooked me (and it hooked three agents, too!), and now that I've had a chance to read the whole thing, I can say that the book, which comes out from Mighty Media Press this September, is just as charming and creepy in whole as it was in part. For more behind-the-scenes tidbits from author Erin Petti, read on!

KV: Congratulations on the upcoming release of THE PECULIAR HAUNTING OF THELMA BEE! What inspired you to write it?

EP: Thank you so much, Krista!

I think I wrote the kind of book that I love to read! I had a feeling that a big, fun, creepy, New England-y adventure was inside me and really wanted to get out. I lived by a river when I started writing Thelma and the natural scenery was so inspiring.

KV: After THELMA was featured in TWV 2012, it went on to land an agent and, ultimately, a book deal. Can you tell us about that process?

EP: When I entered Thelma into TWV in 2012, she was very early on in her development. I had the heart of the story, but it was through beta feedback that I was able to push the story and the characters further, and to create something that was ready for editor eyes.

I found my wonderful agent Laura through #MSWL on Twitter and she submitted our manuscript to Mighty Media Press. My editor, Lauren, has been instrumental in making the book what it is today. I’m really lucky that her vision meshes so well with my own. She’s got fantastic insights and I’m incredibly lucky to work with the MMP team!

KV: I remember loving Thelma, and she hasn't lost any of her shine. Where did her character come from? Is she based on a real person?

EP: Not in a specific way. I guess everyone we write, in some way, has the DNA of people we’ve met. I knew I didn’t want her to be hung up on the Middle School stuff that gets most kids down. I wanted her to take off from an unencumbered place. That’s VERY different than the way I was when I was her age. Maybe I wrote my 6th grade opposite!

KV: One of my favorite elements was the Riverfish Valley Paranormal Society. Have you ever been on a ghost hunt?

EP: Oh, I am DYING TO--no pun intended!!! I’ve been on ghost tours, and I watch every paranormal show I can get my hands on (Note: When Ryan Buell from Paranormal State gave Thelma a blurb, I was over the moon for a week straight). Additionally, I totally lived in a haunted dorm in college. But I’ve never been on an honest-to-goodness investigation and it’s a major life goal of mine.

KV: The book's setting--New England in the fall--felt especially appropriate for this story. Is Riverfish Valley a real place, and either way, how did you develop it as a character in and of itself?

EP: Riverfish Valley is not a real place in Massachusetts, but Maynard is. I lived right by the Assabet River when writing the book. The Assabet turned into the Beaverbottom River in Thelma’s backyard. In fact, Thelma’s house is based directly on the house I lived in in Maynard, and Riverfish itself takes a huge amount of inspiration from the quirky river town that I love--right down to the Clock Tower!

KV: Any last words of advice or encouragement you'd like to share with us?

EP: Just a crazy-big thank you! Krista, you were one of Thelma’s very first cheerleaders, and I can not tell you how grateful I am for your support. Please consider yourself an honorary member of RVPS!

I will! Thanks for coming back and catching us up to speed, Erin, and good, good luck with THELMA!


RC Hancock said...

I remember Thelma Bee too! Congrats on the book deal! I can't wait to read it.

Erin Petti said...

Thank you so much, RC!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I missed this last week, but I love Krista's questions about Thelma Bee. I can't wait to read the final, finished book!