Like I said earlier this week I love learning more about authors behind the books I love. So I get to again today during my stop on the tour for Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. Kellye Crocker took time to answer some of my questions for the interview I’m sharing today. Keep on reading more about Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties and the author behind this story.
Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties by Kellye Crocker
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing Date: November 22, 2022
Since Ava’s mom died, Ava has relied on her consistent routines, predictable schedules,
and exhaustive risk assessment to keep herself safe from uncertainty. For the most part, her life in small-town Iowa has been stable. That is, until now.
As soon as sixth grade ends, Dad is whisking Ava away to meet his girlfriend and her daughter in terrifying Colorado, where even the ground squirrels can be deadly. Managing her anxiety, avoiding altitude sickness, and surviving the mountains might take all Ava’s strength.
Can she stay in control when everything around her is changing so quickly?
Content Warning: panic attack
- What inspired you to write Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties?
My husband got a surprise job offer in Denver shortly after our only child graduated from high school. I knew almost nothing about the US city or state, but I was excited about this new adventure. After living most of my life in Iowa, Colorado was really different. It was interesting to pay close attention to the things I noticed as a newcomer.
I fell in love with Colorado. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. So, that made it fun to write Ava’s (initially) contrarian view.
My move also triggered my anxiety. I’d been diagnosed as an adult in the late 1990s, but I believe I’ve probably always had it. It had been pretty well-controlled for years—until the move. I didn’t intend to write about anxiety—but it came out in the story anyway. (Ava isn’t wrong about Colorado’s dangers. She just doesn’t have a full perspective.)
- What has been the favorite part of your publishing journey so far?
Working with an incredible editorial and marketing team at Albert Whitman & Co. They’ve been amazing, especially my editor Nivair Gabriel.
Revising with her was even better than I’d hoped it would be. In fact, at one point, I joked that I might never want to stop revising because each round took us deeper into the story, and I loved that. (I finally got to the point where I felt ready to be finished. LOL.) Nivair helped me understand that the biggest threat to Ava isn’t Colorado’s dangers. It’s her dad’s girlfriend, who happens to be pretty great. (I love paradoxes.)
- If you were a character in Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties, what kind of character would you be?
I’d be Ava’s equally anxious friend who doesn’t want to swim in the deep end, either. Or, I’d be a supportive adult for Ava. I’d let her know she’s doing great. Encourage her to be her own kind of brave. Remind her to keep breathing.
- Describe Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties in five words or less.
funny, heartfelt, secrets, family, connection
- What is your favorite quote from Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties?
It’s impossible to pick one! But here’s a favorite: “It’s true,” she confirmed. “Ava, your dad has a hot Colorado girlfriend.”
- What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I hope they find a fun, entertaining read that also touches their heart. If they reflect on the different ways they can be brave, that would be sprinkles on the donut!
- Could you give us 5 random facts about Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties (think the story, writing, publishing, anything that comes to mind)?
- I showed a couple of early chapters to my critique group. Suddenly, one of the members got excited, as if she’d realized something important that I’d only hinted at in the text. (For the record, at that point in writing the story, I wasn’t hinting at anything.) She asked a question about Dad’s girlfriend. (Sorry—I’m trying to avoid spoilers!) I answered, “no!” But then, I wondered…what if? Her question became a key part of the plot and a mystery that Ava tries to solve through most of the story. Here’s the funny thing: My friend doesn’t remember asking that question!
- Ava’s mom died shortly after Ava was born, and Ava wears her mom’s broken watch as a way to connect with her. The watch has stopped at 4:15. I was a latchkey kid, and my mom used to come home from her teaching job at 4:15. I’m happy to say she’s alive and well.
- Ava’s big black dog, Mouse, is based on my friend Dori Hillestad Butler’s dog, Mouse. Years ago, Dori borrowed my big Black Lab’s name—Cosmo—for the dog in her Haunted Library Series, and Cosmo’s naughtiness inspired an adventure in Dori’s King and Kayla series. Sadly, both the real Mouse and Cosmo have died—but they lived long, happy lives and gave us so much love. And they live on in our stories!
- As we began the first round of editing, my editor said we wouldn’t need to make a lot of changes. But she asked a couple of important questions that had me diving deep into the story. I knew I probably shouldn’t add a lot of words, but she told me not to worry about it. When I turned in my first revision, I’d added 11,000 words. (I don’t think this is something authors are supposed to do, but I’m new!) She was very apologetic when she told me I’d need to cut about 9,000 words! But here’s where it gets interesting: I did make that big cut, but I kept almost all of the new scenes. I’m very comfortable with that add/cut process, and I don’t regret that work. It made the book so much better.
- The book was originally scheduled to be published on Sept. 1 but was delayed because of printing and supply chain issues. Its new pub date—Oct. 18—is the day after my 30th wedding anniversary!
I met my future husband at an Iowa grocery store after my heavy winter coat accidentally knocked over a bottle of cheap wine and it broke. Mike was in town for only two more weeks before he had to return to grad school in Illinois. I’d sworn off long-distance relationships, but after hanging out for two weeks, I was forced to reconsider. I’m so glad I did!
During this tour there are a lot of amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers participating. Click here to see other post about Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties.
About the Author
Kellye Crocker is a journalist who has written for Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, and Glamour. She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial from the Missouri School of Journalism. She lives in Denver, Colorado.
Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties sounds like just the middle grade for me. I’ll definitely be reading it after learning more about this author and thoughts behind this book. A big thanks to Kellye Crocker for taking time and answering these questions.