I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting…A Book! = 6 Qs with debut MG novelist and poet Megan E. Freeman

November 17, 2020

It’s a Book Baby Shower and YOU’RE invited!

Congrats to debut MG author and poet Megan E. Freeman! –photo credit Laura Carson

Today we’re celebrating this beautiful debut novel in verse:


by Megan E. Freeman,

entering into the world on January 12th, 2021.

sonogram…aka gorgeous cover art by Pascal Campion.

Proud publishing family: Aladdin / Simon & Schuster (see Q4)

I’d say it’s a perfect excuse

to add a new post to my series:

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

…a book!

Don’t you love this fun pic of pregnant Megan taken…a “few”  years ago… : ) ?

6 Qs with Megan E. Freeman:

Q 1. Conception: What was the inspiration for this book baby?

Megan E. Freeman: The idea for ALONE came after my daughter and I read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell in our mother-daughter book club when she was in fifth grade. I was thinking about Karana being left behind on the island, and I couldn’t stop wondering what might happen if a modern-day seventh grader was left behind in a Colorado town.

Newbery Medal winner Island of the Blue Dolphins, HMH BfYR

Q 2. Naming the baby. Where did you get the title? How is it significant? 

Megan E. Freeman: I was inspired by the same historical story that inspired Scott O’Dell, so I did some research about the original events. In the 1850s a middle-aged woman, the last known survivor of the Nicoleño tribe, was discovered living on San Nicolas Island off the coast of Southern California. It was believed she had lived there alone for at least eighteen years, and she became known as The Lone Woman of San Nicolas. When I was writing and needed a working title, I used Lone Girl, since in my head my character was The Lone Girl of Colorado. When it came time to choose a permanent title, we settled on ALONE because it captured the essential conflict of the story while appealing to readers of all genders.

Q 3. Growth: How has the manuscript grown since conception? 

Megan E. Freeman: The writing of the book took many iterations and many years. I first wrote the book in prose, in third person voice, and in past tense. After many rounds of revisions, submissions, and feedback from multiple sources, I began again, this time tapping into my experience and skill as a poet. I rewrote the story in verse, using first person voice and present tense. This allowed me to get inside Maddie’s head much more and explore the solitary and sensory nature of her experience. The poetry freed the story.

…Poetry freed the story.

Q 4. Who is your “Birthing” team–Art Director, Editor, Crit group, etc

Megan E. Freeman: I am lucky to be working with Kristin Gilson at Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Everyone at Aladdin has been terrific, from Anna Parsons in the editorial office to Chelsea Morgan and the copyediting folks to Heather Palisi’s design team and all of the people working to get ALONE into the hands of booksellers and librarians. And I think we can all agree that Pascal Campion’s cover art is simply sublime. Of course my agent Deborah Warren and the East West Literary authors and illustrators are incredibly supportive, too, as are my writing and critique partners. I’m a lucky duck.

The proud publishing family!

Q 5. Since this will post just before Thanksgiving, and expecting tends to activate our emotions, what gratitude might you like to share?

Megan E. Freeman: I’m so grateful to the middle grade and YA authors in The21ders and Classof2k21 debut groups. They have been invaluable sources of information and cheerleading, not to mention moral support. If I could offer one piece of advice for debut authors, it would be to find a debut group the minute you get your book deal. I truly can’t imagine navigating this process without them, and as solitary an endeavor as writing is, being in a debut group puts you on a team that’s all working together for everyone’s greater good. Plus, there are hurdles and milestones that no one in your real life will fully comprehend. But your debut group will not only understand, they’ll sympathize or celebrate the heck out of it with you. I feel huge gratitude for being included in those groups.

Q 6.  All parents have hopes and fears for their children. What do you hope or fear for ALONE?

Megan E. Freeman: I dearly hope that ALONE finds a place in the canon of middle grade books, and that it will allow me to connect directly with young readers through school and library visits. I taught school for many years and I love talking with children. All the work leading up to publication involves working with adults, but the book is for children and I am eager for them to find it. The only thing I fear is that somehow the COVID-19 pandemic will stunt the life of the book or prevent me from being able to fully engage in the effort to help it find its feet. While many of the book’s themes are eerily relevant to the isolation and social distance we’ve all been experiencing, I long for the time when we will say, “Remember back during the pandemic…”

ED note: Let’s help get this book baby out into the world, shall we, friends?

“Madeleine relates her own riveting, immersive story in believable detail, her increasingly sophisticated thoughts, as years pass, sweeping down spare pages in thin lines of verse in this Hatchet for a new age. . . . Suspenseful, fast-paced, and brief enough to engage even reluctant readers.” —Kirkus Reviews

Huge thanks to Megan for joining the blog today.

To learn more about ALONE and Megan E. Freeman’s poetry and school visits, check out her web site: meganefreeman.com

and follow Megan on Twitter: @meganefreeman

PS You can Pre-order

SIGNED COPIES of her book here!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving to all.

We’re taking next week off for family and #gratitude (and turkey)

AND to prep for the Book Birthday of

DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5

(Harper Collins / Illus. Luisa Uribe, Dec. 1st, 2020) Yayyy!!!!

But that’s not all, you guys…

THE Sharon Creech joins the blog on Dec. 8th, to celebrate her latest novel,

ONE TIME (Harper Collins, Sept. 8, 2020).

See you then!

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