Saturday, October 17, 2015

AMONG THE HIDDEN: A Top Ten Hit With Kids in the iBookstore

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix hit the number 7 spot in the Kid's section of the iBook store on August 22nd. It's the first book in the seven-book Shadow Children series. Margaret is a New York Times bestselling author of over 30 books, many of which are award winning. 

First, please tell us what Among the Hidden is about.

Twelve-year-old Luke Garner is growing up in a society where third children are illegal—and he is a third child. So he’s had to hide for his entire life. This becomes much more challenging when a new housing development is built behind his family’s home. Then Luke glimpses another kid’s face in what should be an empty house. Could there be another illegal third child living nearby? Could Luke possibly find the courage to go and meet this other child?

Tell us about your path to publication: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?

AMONG THE HIDDEN came out in 1998, when there weren’t many choices but traditional publishing.

What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

I’m a little too close to the book to analyze that myself, but readers tell me that they feel very strongly about Luke and his situation; they develop a lot of empathy for him. I hear from many kids who love the adventure of both AMONG THE HIDDEN and the rest of the books in the Shadow Children series. I also hear from readers who see parallels between Luke’s dilemmas and the ones they themselves face because they have to hide something important about their own identities.

Some studies say children reading e-books are reading more, while other studies say they comprehend less of what they read. What’s your opinion or experience?

I think it’s possible for both of those things to be true. I read both print and e-books myself, and I do feel as though I remember more about what I read on paper. But maybe that has to do with the fact that e-books weren’t available when I was a kid, when my “reading brain” was developing. I’m guessing it will take another generation or so before we have enough data to truly understand what’s going on, and even then things will be constantly evolving and changing. It’s a little scary to think of doing such a massive experiment on human literacy, and I worry when I see studies hinting that brain development and attention spans in very young children may be harmed by constant exposure to electronic devices, for reading and otherwise. I would like to see all kids, everywhere, get the delight in reading that I had as a kid. But I also have hope that, used properly, e-books can play a role in that goal. It’s amazing to think of all the phenomenal works of literature that anyone can have, anywhere in the world, with an e-device and an internet connection and, say, a digital library card.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

I first heard of e-publishing when I sold my very first book in the mid-1990s, and my book contract (as well as the money I would get for it) was held up for months because of the e-publishing clause. Everyone seemed to know e-books were coming, but nobody seemed quite sure what that meant, so there was a lot of uncertainty about how to word the clause. Eventually I signed a contract that said, essentially, “When e-books become a thing, we’ll work it out together.” For years after that, my agent and I would laugh at the lines on my royalty statements that dealt with my e-book sales, because they were so minimal. And then suddenly—maybe six or eight years ago—the e-book sales weren’t so minimal, and at book events I began having kids asking me to sign their Kindle or Nook cases, not just physical books. It’s been an interesting progression.

What does your writing schedule look like? What are you working on now?

I write full-time, so when I’m not traveling to talk about my books, I’m usually at my desk. I’m working on two new series that will launch in 2016: UNDER THEIR SKIN comes out January 5; CHILDREN OF EXILE comes out Sept. 13, 2016. Both also deal with kids in unusual situations, trying to figure out their worlds.

Learn more about Margaret and her books by visiting her website or by following her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

See the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten e-format authors and their books. It's updated every Saturday. Check back next week when my featured author will be Bruce Hale.

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