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Dear Student | Interview with Elly Swartz

Posted February 15, 2022 by Kait in Book Tours, Bookstagram, Interviews, Promo Post / 0 Comments

Dear Student | Interview with Elly Swartz

Happy Tuesday! I’m so excited because today I have an interview with Elly Swartz to share with you about her new middle grade book Dear Student! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it!

Dear Student | Interview with Elly SwartzDear Student by Elly Swartz
Published on February 15, 2022 by Delacorte Press
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Pages: 304
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Author Links: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram

When Autumn becomes the secret voice of the advice column in her middle school newspaper she is faced with a dilemma-can she give fair advice to everyone, including her friends, while keeping her identity a secret?
Starting Middle School is rough for Autumn after her one and only BFF moves to California. Uncertain and anxious, she struggles to connect with her new classmates. The two potential friends she meets could not be more different: bold Logan who has big ideas and quiet Cooper who's a bit mysterious. But Autumn has a dilemma: what do you do when the new friends you make don't like each other?
When Autumn is picked to be the secret voice of the Dear Student letters in the Hillview newspaper, she finds herself smack in the middle of a problem with Logan and Cooper on opposite sides. But before Autumn can figure out what to do, the unthinkable happens. Her secret identity as Dear Student is threatened. Now, it's time for Autumn to find her voice, her courage, and follow her heart, even when it's divided.

What would you do if you spent the day with Autumn, Logan, and Cooper? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.?

Ha! I love this question. After writing Autumn, Logan and Cooper onto the pages of Dear Student, they truly feel like friends. So, I’d love to spend the day with them. Our day would begin in Autumn’s kitchen making Fearless Fred’s whoopie pies and end at her mom’s veterinary clinic hanging out with Spud the guinea pig, Superman the iguana, Snow White the pregnant python, Sugar the tarantula, and, of course, Cooper’s sweet dog, Mr. Magoo!

And for all the guinea pig lovers out there, say hi to the real Spud. His name was Ajax and he was my son’s rescue guinea pig. Isn’t he the sweetest?!

a tan and white guinea pig is eating grass in his blue cage
Ajax the Guinea Pig!

If Autumn, Logan, and Cooper were to hang out with characters from other books, who would they be and why?

Another rockstar question. I’d love for Autumn, Logan, and Copper to hang out with Molly from Finding Perfect, Maggie from Give and Take, and Frankie and Elliot from Smart Cookie. I feel like each character I write is sprinkled with a small piece of me and a heap of my heart. I’d love to see them find each other. I feel the anxiety that Molly, Maggie, and Autumn share would bond them and show them that they’re not alone. That we are all working on something. And that no one is just one thing.

I think the trio would find solace in Frankie’s strength and resourcefulness and Elliot’s practical nature. And Frankie’s search for family would end when she met Maggie and Molly. I truly believe they, along with Elliot, would be her chosen family.

If there was one fictional place you could travel to for a day, where would it be and why?

I would love to go wherever Harold and the Purple Crayon would take me. I love the idea of using your imagination to create the space you want to explore. 

If you buried a time capsule with three items inside, what three items would you choose and why?

A photo of my family. For me, it’s all about family. They are truly my everything.

A letter I’d write to my future self, reminding the older me to lean into happy, to follow my heart, and to always be true to myself.

A butterfly necklace that was my mom’s. My mom died young, and I feel her in everything I do and everything I am. Here’s one of my favorite photos of us together.

elly swartz and her mother are hugging in front of a tree
Elly’s Favorite Photo of Her with Her Mom

What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?

In Dear Student, Autumn grapples with the emotional and moral complexities of using animals to test the safety of cosmetics. So, the lawyer in me was fascinated to learn there is currently a bill in Congress, introduced by Representative Donald S Beyer Jr (D VA-8), that addresses this issue and, if passed, would prohibit the testing of cosmetics on animals in the United States. The bill is called The Humane Cosmetics Act of 2019. And while I didn’t use this in the story, I loved the intersection between art and life!

More info on the bill here.

What is your favorite quote, scene, or moment from Dear Student?

Aw, my favorite moment in the book is actually the very last page. I love the letter Autumn writes to her dad. My favorite line in it is,

“I know that I will be okay. Not because I am brave like you, but because I am brave like me.”

Dear Student, page 284

Honestly, I cried when I wrote this page and I cry every time I read it. 

About Elly Swartz

Elly Swartz loves writing for kids, Twizzlers, and anything with her family. She grew up in Yardley, Pennsylvania, studied psychology at Boston University, and received a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Elly is the author of four contemporary middle grade novels. Her debut novel, FINDING PERFECT (FSG 2016) is about 12-year-old Molly, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. In her second book, SMART COOKIE (Scholastic, 2018), you meet the spunky and big-hearted Frankie who is all about family with a dash of mischief and mystery! Then in October, 2019, we said hello to Maggie in GIVE AND TAKE (FSG). With the help of a foster baby named Izzie, Maggie learns that sometimes love means letting go. And in the spring of 2022, we’ll get to know Autumn in DEAR STUDENT (Delacorte/Penguin Random House). Autumn is a girl with social anxiety and a pet guinea pig named Cheetos, who becomes the secret voice of the advice column in her middle school newspaper.

What do you think about Dear Student? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!

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