We are thrilled to have Erin E. Moulton under the spotlight today!
Erin E. Moulton graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2007. She is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey (Philomel/Penguin 2011), and Tracing Stars, forthcoming from Philomel/Penguin in 2012. Erin is co-founder of the Kinship Writers Association. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband and puppy where she has a big annual pumpkin carving party, writes, reads, drinks tea, dreams and occasionally runs through the neighbor’s yard to catch her darned dog (Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Murray). You can visit her online at www.erinemoulton.com or on Facebook as Erin E. Moulton (Author).
Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey is one exciting, yet charming girl adventure story!
The story: Big things are about the happen at Maple’s house. Mama’s going to have a baby, which means now there will be four Rittle sisters instead of just three. But when baby Lily is born too early and can’t come home from the hospital, Maple knows it’s up to her to save her sister. So she and Dawn, armed with a map and some leftover dinner, head off down a river and up a mountain to find the Wise Woman who can grant miracles. Now it’s not only Lily’s survival that they have to worry about, but also their own. The dangers that Maple and Dawn encounter on their journey makes them realize a thing or two about miracles-and about each other.
Writing on the Sidewalk (WOTS): For our first step on the interview path, I love your title. As someone who struggles with titles, I am curious, what came first, the title or the story?
Erin: I struggle with titles, too! Luckily, the good people of Philomel do not have that same problem. Originally my manuscript, FLUTTER was entitled The Devil’s Washbowl. In the first draft, the title came before the story, but obviously throughout the entire process, the title was the last thing to change. With both this book and the next one, we have gone back and forth about titles quite a bit! After we switched from The Devil’s Washbowl we were thinking it would be Maple T. Rittle and the Quest for a Miracle. But that one was too long, so we went with a short title and a long subtitle. FLUTTER: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey. Even though the title had a few transformations it is not odd for me and the critique buddies to still refer to FLUTTER as The Devil’s Washbowl or DW for short.
Erin: Yes! Curious was a real life pup. We had two dogs growing up. They were both mutts. One was named Curious and one was named Stormy. So that little bit was snatched directly from real life. Later on, we also had Gal E. Wickets who was another very gentle pound pup. She has not yet shown up in any stories, but I am sure she will. Also, there is another dog featured in FLUTTER. Gramma tells a story of Great Uncle Meyers and a hunting hound named Remington. My husband and I have a Remington. He is a bratty 1 year old Pointer/Beagle mix. And he was actually named after the dog in the book. Just like in the book, our Remi will follow his nose anywhere! It gets him in plenty of trouble. He was abandoned and we got him when he was about five weeks old. And he had been away from his litter for at least a week or two before that, so the poor little guy needed some TLC. He’s pretty hardy now. He likes to carry his blanky all around the house and he loves looking out the windows and using the windowsills as a shelf. He places his toys and bones there for safekeeping.
WOTS: What an organized hound! Now, were there any obstacles in Flutter’s journey to publication? Any Devil’s Washbowls along the way?
Erin: Hrm. Well, the biggest obstacle was getting my agent. I think I looked for Joan(Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency) for about two years. I started querying approximately 6 months after I left VC. And sent out many queries and received many rejections before I got that call from Joan. Once I found Joan, we got an offer for FLUTTER within a month! It was great! I think with writing in general there is always another obstacle to overcome or another goal to aim for. It’s certainly not an easy climb, but I am enjoying it very much and am thankful for the opportunities I have had thus far!
WOTS: What tempts you toward procrastination in your writing process?
Erin: Ugh, reading reviews and checking numbers. I’m always skipping around the internet to look for those. It got so bad that in order to prevent myself from obsessing I have a different account I can log onto on my computer. I set up parent controls so that when I am logged onto that account I cannot access the internet. I’m glad that there is technology out there for people like me with no self control!
WOTS: Self countrol? Do some people have that? Anyway… The sister dynamics in your story are brilliantly uneven – full of love but also middle of the night silent fights – any true life sister stories we should know about?
Erin: Haha! I have had some interesting reactions to this. Some people really enjoy it and some frown on it. I was just trying to write true to life and it is true that if you have a sister, you love them unconditionally and you get into it when necessary.
My older sister was a real pain because she almost always won every fight. Her fists seemed very large and she always knew where to hit to make it hurt, like right in the calf. Instant Charlie horse. My little sisters were much younger, one 5 years younger and one 7 years younger. So they were smaller than me, but they had the benefit of being able to tag team. I remember that they had once been watching too many Disney Movies, or something, and were infatuated with the kissing at the end, so they would grab my face and smooch my cheek as hard as they could. My defense to this was to take one of them and throw that one at the other one. They would both fall back momentarily, but rebound and come at me again. I would grab the first one I could get a hold of and basically use her as a shield. These were the tricks you had to learn.
And I am not the only one who got into it. Casey and Moie (the two younger siblings) once had a fight in the candy aisle at the Moretown store. The only difference is that Casey, after she punched Moie in the stomach and left her curled over the open container of Swedish fish, retreated to the car and confessed to Mom. Mom would have probably found me hiding in the bathroom or behind one of the display cases if it had been me.
Having said all that, I love my sisters and we got along a lot more than we fought. We would fight, apologize and move on. No sense in brooding. You’re stuck with them for life.
WOTS: It’s these important self-defense lessons that sisters provide! Personally, I know to always check my sheets for fish food!
So, Erin, lastly, any upcoming new quests/journeys/new stories we can look forward to reading?
Erin: As a matter of fact, yes! My second novel Tracing Stars will be out in 2012 (Philomel/Penguin). It’s a story about 11 year old Indie Lee Chickory who wants two things in life, to be a better Chickory so her older sister, Bebe, will not be so mortified by her existence, and to find her lost golden lobster, The Lobster Monty Cola. During the day she spends her time at the theater, showing Bebe how well she can fit in with her crowd, and at night she works on finding The Lobser Monty Cola by building a fishing boat in a tree with the boy from the props shop, Owen Stone. Everything is going okay until Bebe makes it clear that being friends with Owen is a ticket straight to loserville. Will Indie be able to keep her friendship with Owen a secret? And will doing so make her a better Chickory—or a worse one? It’s a story of friendship, family and self-discovery.
I’m also having fun with a work in progress called Ticonderoga Summer. Eleven year old, Valore Arbuckle, fancies herself a historian. She is delighted to spend the summer with her history buff of a Gramma at Fort Ticonderoga only to find out, upon arrival, that it is being shut down due to low funding. She has heard a story of Toby Finnegan’s treasure–a revolutionary war treasure that was never found–and she knows that if she can find it, she can save the fort. From there, she and her sister, Scooter, hunt down clues to find the treasure in an attempt to secure the fort’s future. Unfortunately, before long it is not just the fort’s survival that they have to worry about, but also their own!
That’s it for now. Other ideas are just stewing on the back burner.
Thank you for having me on, Sarah!
WOTS: Thank you, Erin! We loved having you in the spotlight!
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK