TAKE FIVE interview and Giveaway
with author NATALIE ROMPELLA
Natalie talks sled-dog racing, fresh-baked cookies, middle school and more!
Welcome to my first TAKE FIVE interview on the GROG Blog. I hope that you’ll take five minutes to meet the wonderful children’s author, Natalie Rompella, and learn more about her new MG novel, COOKIE CUTTERS AND SLED RUNNERS. If you post a comment in the next week, you’ll be entered in a drawing to receive a free copy of Natalie’s book (shipping limited to US postal addresses).
Eileen: What was the inspiration behind your new middle grade novel, COOKIE CUTTERS AND SLED RUNNERS?
Natalie: My new love of sled dog racing. I had finished writing a book on sports that began in the U.S. and just learned about it. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. My character formed herself. I didn’t plan on writing about someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder—that organically happened. As for it taking place in middle school: this was one of my favorite times of my life. I loved sixth grade. I also adore teaching middle graders.
Eileen: Tell us more about the recipes in the book. Where did they come from? Do you love to bake?
Natalie: I love baking. I started when I was young. My friend, Kate, and I would bake together. The first recipe in the book is based on the Sprinkle-Cake Cookies we came up with in grade school. And the Pad Thai Tuna recipe is one I used to make in high school -- a tuna and peanut butter sandwich. (Yes, it may sound awful, but it’s really good!) I still love baking and altering recipes. It’s fun to see what happens if you tweak something just so.
Eileen: How did you research two important, but very different themes in the novel – obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and sled dog racing?
Natalie: Call it cheating if you wish, but I had done research on both of these topics previously; so part of the research was done and already in my brain. However, writing fiction and non-fiction requires different research. I found this especially true with the sled dog racing. Because the sport was so foreign to me, I wasn’t familiar with the jargon. I joined a Facebook group and made friends with mushers. It was through mushers that I learned the sport vs. from books. 1. There aren’t that many books about the sport; 2. I wanted authentic dialogue from my character who raced and owned sled dogs. Oh, and I also attended sled dog races—both ones in the Midwest (as portrayed in the book) and the Iditarod in Alaska. With the OCD, I had already done research, but I also live with OCD, so many of the character’s thoughts came from what I’ve experienced.
Natalie: I am an insect fanatic. I’ve had pet cicadas, katydids, hissing cockroaches, and praying mantids. Or, for those who already know about my insect obsession, you may not know I was absolutely petrified of insects growing up.
Eileen: Where can readers and fans find you on social media?
Natalie: Connect with me here --
Twitter: https://twitter.com/natalierompella and
Thank you, Natalie! We’ll announce one lucky winner who’ll receive a complimentary copy of her new book. Post a comment by following the Rafflecopter link below to be eligible for the drawing!