Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Meet Natalie Rompella, Author of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners ~ by Eileen Meyer

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.

Eileen: Share something surprising that people don’t know about you.
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 --

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






36 comments:

  1. I live in a sled dog race town (Marquette, MI) and am looking forward to reading your book. Sounds like fun!

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    1. Yes, that is a sled dog town! I've been wanting to go there for years!

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    2. Thanks, Carrie! I have been to your area as my parents grew up in the Upper Peninsula and we traveled throughout all parts of Michigan on many family vacations. But did not know about Marquette's sled dog racing! Yay!

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  2. I live in the Midwest and did no know there was sled dog racing here! Gonna read this book for sure. Ty for the fun interview, Eileen.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy -- Natalie's book has opened our eyes to new topics with sled dog racing and OCD! I bought my own copy but also asked my library to buy a copy of this book as it will be a big hit with middle schoolers!

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  3. Great interview, Eileen! Your book sounds fabulous, Natalie. Can't wait to read it and share it with my students.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. This is an awesome book - bonus, fun cookie recipes for your middle school LA students to try!! Yum ...

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  4. I love this interview on two unique topics for KidLit. Congratulations Natalie!

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  5. What fun! Thanks, Natalie, for your insights. And thanks, Eileen, for introducing us to Natlie.

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    1. Thanks, Sue - you can't go wrong with cookies, sled dogs, and learning about a mental health topic (OCD) that many people of all ages face. Natalie's novel is a great read!

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  6. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for visiting the blog, Leah! Glad to have you here. Natalie is a great writer and it is a pleasure to help spread the word about her book.

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  7. I've read dog stories all my life and I look forward to reading your book, Natalie. Love the research you did for the story.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Charlotte! I envy Natalie's trip to the Iditarod . . .

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    2. I had a blast on the research for this book. And I'm still doing it!

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  8. Loved learning about your background and how you used that and your interests for your book. Very unique! Thanks to both of you for sharing this with the GROG.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Sherri! I was fascinated to learn about Natalie's travel and personal experiences and how they were woven into her story.

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  9. Fun post! Though peanut butter and tuna? Not sure I could do it...

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    1. Thanks for visiting the blog, Angie - as a (former) picky eater in my own middle school days, I would have let Natalie keep her PB and Tuna sandwich, too!

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    2. Hi Angie! You are the winner of the drawing for a copy of my book. If you could email me a mailing address, that would be great.
      info [at] natalierompella [dot] com

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    3. Well, look at that! I won your book! Can't wait to read it! I am so bad at checking back...sorry! I emailed you just now. THANK YOU!!!

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  10. Thanks for your first post on the GROG, Eileen! And I'm so happy that it features Natalie and her wonderful book. I love how much of your heart has gone into this book, Natalie. Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Thanks, Patty - never would have been possible without your mentoring and advice! Thank-YOU, fellow GROG blogger!

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  11. What a fun post. Thanks to Eileen and Natalie. Can't wait to read this!

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    1. Thanks, Christy. And love your dog in your profile pic. What a cutie!

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    2. THank-you, Christy! Fun to be on board with such great group of kidlit bloggers :)

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  12. Appreciations to both Natalie & Eileen. I am fascinated by so many parts of this post, especially because I have never been interested in sled dog racing & this gets me curious. OCD is a topic of great concern with one relative in my birth family, I am thrilled to meet someone who is also fascinated now as an adult, by bugs (we have tons of them here in North Florida, Natalie!) & I want to thank you Natalie for your work in middle school. Finally, welcome to the Group Blog new blogger Eileen. You are a wonderful addition.
    (I am exempting myself from the give-away.)

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    1. Thanks, Jan. A fellow bug lover--yay!

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    2. Thank-you for the warm welcome, Jan! Glad to be here - and featuring Natalie in my first blog post was a home-run! Her book is a fun read, and I know you will enjoy it. :)

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  13. Thank you, Eileen for introducing me to Natalie. Welcome to the GROG Blog.

    I'm pleased I finally found five minutes to *meet* Natalie. I look forward to reading COOKIE CUTTERS & SLED RUNNERS. Since I enjoy cooking and baking with fresh ingredients from our Illinois Prairie Garden, the recipes will be an added fun ingredient.

    Suzy Leopold

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Suzy. Very cool to combine the recipes with fresh ingredients. :)

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  14. Give your child the gift of reading and imagination, and help them find their purpose in life by author Ronald Destra.......

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  15. Just got my copy of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners! Can't wait to read it! Thank you, Natalie! It's so hot outside, I hope the sled means I'll be reading about snow...Thanks, GROG! And recipes, yay!

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