We’re pleased to announce a new member of Team Fuse! It’s kidlit author Beth Bacon.
Before finding her voice as a children’s book author, Beth wrote cereal commercials, computer demos, and marketing plans. She grew up in Boston then followed her heart to far-flung cities including Monterey, San Diego, and Tokyo. In 2008, she and her adventurous family took a year off and traveled to all 50 states in a motor-home. Now rooted in the Pacific Northwest, she lives a creative life as a branding consultant, a columnist for Digital Book World, and a children’s book author. Beth also likes to study: she has a BA in Literature from Harvard, an MA in Media Ecology from NYU, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Beth is the winner of the Candlewick Award for picture books and the Marion Dane Bauer Award for middle grade writing.
EMILY: Welcome to #TeamFuse, Beth! We’re excited to have you. Can you tell us a little about your novel?
BETH BACON: In Almost Impossible, ten-year-old Viv Harlen dreams of living in a little blue house, going to a red brick school, and having her own best friend. But Viv’s dad is a mechanic for the Daniel C. Glickmeyer Traveling Demolition Derby, so they’re always moving from state fair to state fair. When the derby rolls into the apple-growing town of Lyndale, Washington, Viv is captivated by the old orchard and the quirky neighborhood. She teams up with a bold and impulsive local, Julie Argyle, to save the orchard. In the process, Viv gains the courage to tell her dad how much she wants to put down roots. Almost Impossible is a story of secrets kept and revealed, and of dreams deferred and fulfilled.
EMILY: It’s the kind of middle grade that I love. You also write YA and picture books. What made you want to write for kids?
BACON: Kids are the most interesting people I know. Though they might not have the experience of grownups, kids are smart and thoughtful. What they lack in training they make up in imagination, concentration, and enthusiasm. Kids are not afraid to ask big questions—where do I fit in the world? How do I express myself? What does it mean to be good, or evil, or just to be human? They’re inquisitive and open to new ways of thinking. It’s a privilege to write for this curious, optimistic, wonderful group.
EMILY: That’s a great sentiment! I think it’s a privilege to work on kids books too. Speaking of, You attended the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. (Which is one of the most prestigious programs for writing for kids! Super cool!) Can you talk a little about what you learned there?
BACON: VCFA is indeed super cool. I learned so much there, about the craft of writing and about my own way of getting through the world. The first thing I learned was to slow down. When I first started, I was always in a hurry. I wrote fast, I spoke fast, I organized my life so I could do things quickly and efficiently. With encouragement from my instructors, I learned to slow down, observe, and enjoy every experience. Memorable writing is about going deep into a moment or a mood. That simply can’t be done at warp speed. I also learned to write from the heart, because that’s where real meaning lies. Finally, I learned to see my stories through the eyes of my characters, which made my stories, and the characters in them, so much more real.
EMILY: Kind of a funny (?) story, I know the day you signed with Fuse you got some other life-changing news. Can you share that with the readers?
BACON: Life is sometimes stranger than fiction. On the day I signed with Fuse Literary, both my husband and I lost our jobs. We were both completely surprised. It was like the universe was shuffling things around to make room for changes. Big, exciting, wonderful changes. It’s only been two weeks, but we both have our eyes wide open to see what’s ahead.
EMILY: Wow. Both of you on the same day. I guess you’ll have more time for writing now. (Every cloud has a silver lining?) Anything else you’re working on?
BACON: I’m working on a middle grade novel about a twelve-year-old girl who believes there’s a pirate treasure buried in Puget Sound (the Conquistadores came as far north as Washington State and they had a lot of gold in their ships). I’m also working on a YA psychological thriller about a surfer in San Diego. I’ve lived in lots of places—New York and New England, California and Japan, Paris and the Pacific Northwest. Everywhere I go inspires new stories.
EMILY: That’s about all my questions. Is there anything else you want to talk about?
BACON: There is something else I want to say, thanks for asking. It’s that I believe we are all storytellers. Some of us are writer-storytellers. Some are around-the-dinner-table storytellers. Some tell stories by creating video games. Others tell stories by acting on a stage. No matter the medium, we use stories to make sense of the world and to connect to each other. Every story is unique, just like every storyteller is unique, but the best stories show us that underneath it all, we are more alike than different.