It’s such a pleasure to host Nancy J. Cavanaugh today; as she shares in her post, we were first cyber friends and then, one day, I was doing a book event at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois and there was Nancy — with her daughter — there to support me. Nancy’s generous act highlights the kindness and camaraderie of the kidlit world. Today we are celebrating her latest book, Elsie Mae has Something to Say, (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, September 2017).
One of the really, wonderful parts of being an author is having the chance to be friends with other authors. Getting to be one of Kirby Larson’s friends is a perfect example of that kind of wonderfulness. The last time I stopped by and did a post for Friend Friday, I hadn’t yet met Kirby in person. I was a friend in the cyber-way we get to be friends as a result of social media. But since then, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Kirby in person which makes this time around even more terrific, and in honor of all that terrific-ness, I’ve decided that for this Friend Friday blog post I will focus on just that – friendship.
As I mentioned, becoming friends with authors is such fun for me, but there’s another kind of friendship I deal with as an author that is just as much a pure delight. That delight comes when I get to create a friendship between two of my characters. In my newest middle grade novel, Elsie Mae Has Something to Say, my main character Elsie Mae finds friendship in a very unlikely person and yet it becomes the kind of friendship that changes who she is and makes her redefine what is important to her.
Elsie Mae Has Something to Say is set in the Okefenokee Swamp in the 1930’s. Elsie Mae has her heart set on becoming a hero. She sets out to do this by writing a letter to President Roosevelt in hopes that he’ll do something to save the swamp from a ship company which plans to build a canal through the Okefenokee. Her hopes are high, but so many obstacles stand in her way. Her new dog Huck gets himself into trouble every time she turns around. The swamp families’ homesteads are being burglarized by hog bandits; and worst of all, her cousin Henry James, who hopes to one day become a travelling preacher like his daddy, shows up and just about drives Elsie Mae crazy. But then, Elsie finds herself getting close to danger as she tries to catch the hog bandits, and Henry James, with his “hallelujah this” and his “hallelujah that” somehow finds a way to weasel into Elsie Mae’s life. Once he does, their friendship begins to grow. First out of necessity, but then gradually, it blossoms into pure loyal companionship.
Creating characters like Elsie Mae and Henry James and watching them grow to become friends as my story unfolds feels a lot like the joy of having friendships develop in my own life. And something that makes my characters’ friendships even sweeter is knowing that readers will get to share in that friendship when they read my characters’ story.
So, Friend Friday is a great way to celebrate real-life friends who invite you to be a guest on their blog – thank you, Kirby! And it’s also a great way to celebrate the friendships we enjoy in the books we read. Happy Friend Friday to all!
Nancy J. Cavanaugh is the acclaimed author of Always, Abigail, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee, and This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, a Florida State Library Book Award winner, an NCTE Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts Award winner, and a nominee for numerous state awards, including Florida Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award and Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Award. School Library Journal calls her third novel, Just Like Me, “A charming and refreshingly wholesome coming-of-age story . . . Filled with slapstick humor and fast-paced action.”
Cavanaugh’s newest book, Elsie Mae Has Something to Say, tells the story of a young girl’s endeavor to save the Okefenokee Swamp. This historical fiction, full of adventure and mystery, takes place in the 1930’s and gives readers a chance to experience a unique and unusual time and place in history.
Nancy and her husband and daughter enjoy winters in sunny Florida and eat pizza in Chicago the rest of the year. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter, @nancyjcavanaugh