Fall 2014 Publishers' Preview: Five Questions for Ann M. Martin

Publishers' Previews

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Fall Publishers’ Preview, a semiannual advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

Sponsored byMacmillan

Rain Reign, to be published in October by Feiwel and Friends, is the latest novel from Newbery Honor author Ann M. Martin.

Ann M. Martin©Don Ogust Photo: Don Ogust.

1. With a narrator who has autism, a stray dog, AND a hurricane, you’ve got three big-ticket elements in your story. How did you keep from going over the top?

AMM: The story came to me in pieces — not all at once — and that helped. I was thinking about dogs at first. Then Hurricane Irene hit the area of upstate New York in which I live, and I began to think about a dog becoming separated from her family during a storm. At the same time, completely separate from the dog and the storm, the character of Rose began to make her presence known to me. She was very insistent! I thought about who in her life she could turn to as a comforting presence, a calming focus, and eventually settled on her dog. Rose’s voice and her insistence on following rules also helped to keep the story in check. Her emotional world is controlled, and the story had to follow her rules.

2. There are some very sad moments in this novel. Why do you think we like to read books that make us cry?

AMM: People are emotional creatures, whether we’re wildly emotional and in touch with our feelings, or bewildered by emotions, as Rose is. Crying — and laughing — is cathartic. And it brings us closer to the characters we’re reading about, and therefore to ourselves.

martin_reign rain3. What book makes YOU cry most happily?

AMM: That’s easy. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, followed closely by the play Our Town, by Thornton Wilder. I once tried to read part of Our Town out loud to a friend and had to stop because I was so choked up.

4. In creating your heroine Rose, what did you learn about the autism spectrum that you did not know before?

AMM: In college I did a lot of reading on the subject, and during the summers I taught at a school for children with autism. This was decades before the terms Asperger’s syndrome and autism spectrum were in use. By the time I began working on Rain Reign, the face of autism was very different. I needed to learn about the range of skills, behaviors, and interests that a person on the spectrum might exhibit, and what the school experience might be like for a child on the higher end of the spectrum

5. Rose loves to identify homophones. What’s your favorite homophone?

AMM: The more the spellings of the two words differ, the happier I am. I don’t know if I have one favorite, but I do particularly like “sword” and “soared,” which Rose identifies and analyzes at the end of the book.

Sponsored byMacmillan

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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