Lissa: This cover has a timeless quality about it, almost classic. Tell us what it was like when you first saw the cover layout.
Peggy: I was so excited that Owen Richardson, the cover artist for Sky Jumpers, was available to create my second cover as well. He did such an incredible job with my first cover, and every single bit of his art is brilliant. I knew that whatever he came up with was going to be amazing. I had been keeping my fingers crossed that it would be a mostly orange cover, and was thrilled when I opened the email and saw that it was. I love the crack in the ground, and I love that we get to see one of the boys--- Brock-- a little more this time.
Lissa: How much time has passed since book one ended and this one begins?
Peggy: Four months.
Lissa: Since Sky Jumpers was your debut novel, (although not your first manuscript), how was your experience writing the sequel? Easier or harder?
Peggy: So. Much. Harder. I had heard that it was going to be more difficult, so I mentally prepared myself. I think I must've mostly figured that it would be tougher because of reviews, and knowing that people were going to be reading it, and neither of those things affected me much. But it is soooo much more than that. Sequels are a difficult beast all on their own, with nothing else entering into the mix. But it's not the only thing in the mix. After you've spent so many, many months making your first book all pretty and shiny and perfect, it's hard to remember that a first draft is every so.... ugly. It can make you feel like you've forgotten how to write! And when you add in the fact that your inner editor has become so much stronger in the process, and that you now have your editor's voice in your head, getting all the words on the page is like trudging uphill. Pushing a giant rock. Through tar. In a blizzard.
Lissa: For the journey across the Forbidden Flats, did you model the landscape on a particular area? Perhaps in Utah?
Peggy: Not Utah. It's actually the landscape between Cook, Nebraska, and somewhere around Fort Collins, Colorado. Even though technology was taken back quite a few years, the book actually takes place more than 50 years in the future. So I imagined how cities through that area would've been been built up before they were destroyed by the green bombs, and how the other parts of the landscape-- such as rivers-- would've changed. It was a lot of fun taking some artistic license and creating the cities they ran into along the way. My favorite was creating a city whose walls are made entirely of glass. The setting for the entire book was a blast to play in.
Lissa: You’ve worked as a tutor for fourth graders struggling with reading. Did any of your experience with them influence your writing style with this series?
Peggy: It did. For some kids, reading is SO HARD. And in order to get them to want to work hard at it, it really helps if they're reading something that they can relate to, and that they get excited about reading. I think those years really helped me to get a better grasp on the kinds of stories and the kinds of characters that make kids want to work hard to read.
Lissa: Any chance of another book in this series or too early to know? What’s next for author Peggy Eddleman?
For right now, this is the final book. The main conflict is addressed, and comes to a satisfying conclusion, and I am very happy with it. There are a lot of threads-- some very exciting ones-- that I left open, so that kids can dream about what goes on beyond the story. And who knows? One day I might decide to come back to it. But right now, I'm very excited to have the conclusion available! I've turned my focus to writing a new story-- another action / adventure, of course.
If you missed the first Sky Jumpers book, it is out in paperback the same day that The Forbidden Flats releases-- one week from today!
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