Friday, March 8, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Tamera Will Wissinger (author of Gone Fishing)

This week, I am very happy to welcome Tamera Will Wissinger, author of Gone Fishing, to my blog to tal about her debut middle grade book.

About the author:
Tamera Will Wissinger is a children's author and poet who grew up in Badger, Iowa. She has been reading and writing stories and poetry since she was young. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Sioux Falls College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and her Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Tamera thinks she’s very lucky to be able to read and write as part of her job. When she’s not working she might be fishing or boating, watching the interesting wildlife around her neighborhood, or noticing how each day is so beautiful and unique. She also likes to spend time with her family and friends, golf, watch good movies, listen to music, and crochet, (her mom recently taught her how!) Tamera lives with her husband in Vero Beach, Florida. Her book, GONE FISHING, will be released from Houghton Mifflin in Spring 2013.

You can haunt Tamera Will Wissinger at -
Website | Goodreads | Twitter |


1. I love the premise of Gone Fishing and how the story seems to circle around family and life in general. In eleven words could you tell all the potential readers a little about your debut novel?

Father and son fishing adventure and sibling rivalry story in verse.

2. With Gone Fishing being told in various poetic forms, which you don't see used in too many novels, could you tell us which form you enjoyed using the most for your book? Why?

What I enjoy most is how the poems work together in Gone Fishing to tell a story. While I don't have a favorite form, I love the challenge of writing using rhyme, rhythm, poetry forms, and techniques. 

3. I hear that parts of Gone Fishing were sparked by your memories of your own fishing trips with family. Did being able to draw upon past experiences make writing your debut easier?

I don't know about easier, but I did have confidence in my subject matter because I can remember my good childhood fishing experiences. From there my imagination took over. Once I started working with my editor, her input and vision helped give the story even more direction.  

4. I've noticed that you seem to be a fan of fishing, so, my question to you is: What is best or worst catch you've ever made?

I’ve had a couple of memorable catches. I once caught a really nice-sized northern with my dad while on vacation one summer. We snapped a photo and let it go. More recently while fishing with my husband I caught a blacktip shark that looked about as long as I am tall. Needless to say, we took a photo and let it go without bringing it onto the boat.  

5. A new day has sprung, in a short poem (style of your choosing) describe the view from your front window?

I’m not coming up with anything, although I did try. (I'm chalking it up to being in temporary housing - more on that below). Instead, I’d like to show you this picture that I shot of the bay near my real home at dawn last fall. What looks like the rising sun is really a western view of the harvest moon about to set. Those pink hues on the clouds are from the sunrise over my shoulder. There’s a poem in here, I’m sure of it!

6. Tamera, since your debut novel, Gone Fishing, is told in verse any other verse books that you would recommend to readers? Do you have one in particular that you love and would like to share?

Choosing just one is too difficult; there are many to love. Here are stories in poetry in each age category that I think are good examples of the format:

Early Grade: Emma Dilemma by Kristine O’Connell George; the Danitra Brown books by Nikki Grimes.

Middle Grade: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech; May B. by Caroline Star Rose

Middle School: Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and Shakespeare Makes The Playoffs by Ron Koertge; Carver: A Life In Poems by Marilyn Nelson

Grades 9 and up: Love and Leftovers by Sara Tregay; My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt

7. Favorite place to curl up with a great book?

It isn’t a place as much as a situation: A glass of water, a little snack, a great book, and any bright comfortable corner where I can prop up my feet are the perfect conditions for me to become blissfully lost in a story.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose?

Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking: she's strong, brave, independent, rich and just unconventional enough to not be intimidated. She'd have those robots doing our cooking and cleaning in no time!

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave?

Right now I'm in a temporary home office because my real home is being renovated. My temp space feels like a real cave because it’s kind of dark without the best lighting (and unfortunately not very photogenic!) I'm grateful to be away from the noise and mess of the construction work, but as a result of the office lighting situation, I tend to move around with my laptop to get closer to a good window, sometimes to the table, other times standing at the counter. I think being able to write wherever I happen to be is a good habit to form.

There is one detail in this office that has recently captured my attention: on the wall just above my temporary desk hangs an oil painting of gold and orange mushrooms against a deep brown background. Like the office, it’s kind of dark and nondescript, however; I’ve recently noticed that there appears to be a tiny sprite emerging from the ground beneath the mushroom canopy – almost like a glowing spark or the silhouette of a tiny lady in a red dress. Maybe it’s the way my desk lamp creates shadow and light on the impasto, or maybe I need to get out more, but I’m growing fond of this teeny imaginary woodland creature and beginning to appreciate the painting. I do love elves and fairies in literature; maybe this one will turn up in my writing one day.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can share with us?

I’m writing more poetry, a couple of quirky picture books, and a middle grade novel. I just learned that Sky Pony Press is publishing one of my concept picture books in 2014!

Thank you for inviting me to participate in your 2013 book challenge, Orchid! It was fun to be here.

Thank you so much for stopping by and talking about your debut, Gone Fishing, Tamera. It was a pleasure having you as a guest. 

Gone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissenger, March 5, 2013. Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Using a wide variety of poetic forms – quatrains, ballads, iambic meter, rhyming lists, concrete poetry, tercets and free verse –this debut author tells the story of a nine-year-old boy’s day of fishing. Sibling rivalry, the bond between father and son, the excitement – and difficulty -- of fishing all add up to a day of adventure any child would want to experience.

Matthew Cordell illuminates this novel-in-verse throughout with his energetic black-and-white line drawings.

While each poem can be read and enjoyed on its own, the poems work together to create a story arc with conflict, crisis, resolution and character growth.

The back matter of this book equips the reader with a Poet's Tackle Box of tools and definitions for understanding the various poetic forms the author uses in this story.

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