Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My (Our) Interview with Victoria Coe

I am delighted to talk with Victoria Coe today.  Victoria's debut middle grade novel Fenway and Hattie (GP Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Young Readers)  is released today.  I had the good fortune of reading it last fall and I must say that I loved it.  It's humor, sensitivity and heart held me from the first to the last page.


Kurt: Hi, Victoria!  Welcome to Kids Talk Kid Lit.  I am so glad that you were willing to stop by and talk with me today – the day that Fenway and Hattie is released to the world! I hope it's ok, but my dogs Zoey and Nellie would love to be part of this interview.

Zoey and Nellie

Victoria: Awesome! I’m excited that Zoey and Nellie are available to join us. It can be Kids and Dogs Talk Kid Lit! How about we start off with some treats?

Kurt: Who could say no to treats? While Zoey and Nellie munch away, would you like to give us a short synopsis of Fenway and Hattie?

Victoria: Sure! Fenway and Hattie is about a dog and a girl who move from the city to the suburbs where everything is different. And as you can probably guess, they have a lot of obstacles to deal with!

Kurt: I read the book last fall, and I must say that it was absolutely delightful. We were camping, and the minute I finished it, I handed it to my wife who immediately read (and loved) it!

Victoria: Thanks, Kurt! Please pass along my thanks to your wife, too!

Kurt: Looks like Zoey and Nellie are finished munching and ready to join in!

Nellie: You have an amazing way of seeing inside a dog’s mind – and not just the treats. Do you have a special dog friend?

Victoria: Why thanks, Nellie! My real dog, Kipper, inspired the idea of Fenway when we were moving. As soon as we began packing, he leaped inside the car and wouldn’t get out! It wasn’t hard to realize (especially from how much he was shaking) that he was afraid we’d leave without him!

Victoria and Kipper
That moment really struck me. I paid very close attention to him as he sniffed around our new neighborhood checking everything out. After that, my imagination took over.

Nellie: We had fun seeing Fenway’s picture – even though it’s on a book and not on something fun like a ball or a squeaky toy. What’s been the reaction from other dogs?

Victoria: So far Fenway and Hattie is a big hit with dogs! Ever since the advance reader copies started floating around, people have been snapping photos of their dogs with Fenway. For example, here’s your friend Goose, obviously trying to get the book away from her human, Colby Sharp. 

Goose (and Colby)

Zoey: I like Goose. And I really like Fenway. He looks like a guy who can have some fun! Could you tell us a little about him?

Victoria: Aw, thanks, Zoey! You and Fenway would definitely have fun together.  Fenway’s a Jack Russell terrier – a little dog with a lot of energy. Which is a good thing because he has a very big job – To protect his special girl Hattie from evil!

Zoey:  I have a special girl like Hattie.  Can you share some things about Hattie?

Victoria: As Fenway would say, Hattie is The Best Short Human Ever! She loves to chase him around the Dog Park, share yummy treats, and snuggle with him at night. Oh, and she also loves to brush his fur and sing, “Best buddies, best buddies” before they fall asleep.
I guess you can see why Fenway is determined to keep their relationship exactly the same. And nothing will get in his way, not even evil squirrels!

(Zoey and Nellie rush to the window to check for squirrels.)

Kurt:  I LOVE that this book is written from Fenway's point of view. Was that your idea from the start or did this happen as the story evolved?

Victoria: Thanks, Kurt! Right from the start, Fenway and Hattie was written from Fenway’s point of view – in his voice, telling his dramatic story. But it wasn’t always Hattie’s story, too.  My wonderful agent, Marietta Zacker, suggested I dig out Hattie’s story arc – from Fenway’s perspective, of course! He doesn’t always understand or get things right, especially when it comes to Hattie…

Kurt:  I love the book trailer for Fenway and Hattie.  Were you part of that process?

Victoria: Oh, I’m so glad you liked it! Once we came up with the concept, I wrote the script, but the rest was left to the professionals.

I’m a big fan of the music – Fenway’s Theme. I think it captures how playful he is as well as his self-imposed responsibility to be the hero. 

Watch the trailer for Fenway and Hattie!

Kurt:  I can't wait to share this book with students.  Will we see more of Fenway (and Hattie) in the future?

Victoria: Thanks, Kurt. I sure hope your students enjoy it! And yes, there will be a second Fenway and Hattie book coming next year. Stay tuned!

Kurt: Thank you so much for stopping by to talk with us today. Thank you for Fenway and Hattie...it certainly is a gift to readers!

Victoria: It’s been a pleasure, Kurt. Thanks for hosting me. And maybe once Zoey and Nellie are through scaring those squirrels away, we can all enjoy some more treats!

Nellie thinks you should read Fenway and Hattie!

Check out Fenway and Hattie (GP Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Young Readers)... available everywhere books are sold, as of TODAY!  

You can follow Victoria on Twitter @victoriajcoe and get more info at her website www.victoriajcoe.com.