Author Spotlight: Yvette Clark
|© Sergio Kurhajec|
June 11, 2021
We are excited to feature author Yvette Clark and her debut middle grade novel, GLITTER GETS EVERYWHERE (HarperCollins, May 2021). Enter to win a copy!
illustrator: OriolVidal; designer: Jessie Gang
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I was born and raised in England but always dreamed of living in New York City, the backdrop for many of my favorite novels growing up—Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Harriet the Spy, From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, etc. So when I was offered a career opportunity in New York many years later, I seized it with both hands and have been here for almost twenty years. I live in Manhattan with my husband, two teenagers, and a small blue cat. As a child, my life was brimming with books, and my head was overflowing with stories, which I told to my long-suffering collection of dolls and stuffed animals. Reading is one of the greatest joys of my life—I have always read to remember and forget, to escape and to find myself, for the mirrors of my experiences and for the windows into other lives. When I started to write stories as an adult, the main characters that felt the most natural and compelling to me were always middle-grade narrators. I think I’m still a middle-grader at heart.
Congrats on your debut YA novel, Glitter Gets Everywhere! Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you! Glitter Gets Everywhere is the story of ten-year-old Londoner Kitty Wentworth, her infuriatingly perfect older sister, Imogen, and her devastated father, who are struggling to come to terms with her mother’s recent death. Surrounded by a group of quirky, affectionate characters, including a next-door neighbor who hopes to heal the family through her baking (and is a contestant on The Great British Bake-Off!), an aloof but adoring grandmother, and a loyal best friend, Kitty attempts to navigate life without her beloved mum. When Kitty’s dad suddenly announces that the family is temporarily moving from London to New York City, Kitty’s new normal comes crashing down. Why does everything have to keep changing when all Kitty wants to do is turn back the clock? While not without its challenges, the family’s time in New York City offers fresh experiences and adventures, which help Kitty on her journey to healing. It ultimately takes the care and patience of the people who love her, the wise words her mum left for her in a series of birthday letters, and the friendship of a blue-haired boy to bring the color back into Kitty’s life. Glitter Gets Everywhere is a story of loss, resilience, hope, and above all, love.
My inspiration for writing Glitter Gets Everywhere was my own experience of grief as a child. I’m fortunate to have both my parents, but a dear friend of mine died very suddenly when I was Kitty’s age. She was brilliant and sweet and funny. I can recall my feelings of shock, grief, anger, and despair as clearly as if it were yesterday. I believe I wrote this story for my eleven-year-old self. I wrote the first chapter as a short story when I was taking a writing class at Gotham Writers. The teacher gave us a prompt to write a piece about a character looking out of a window. The story I wrote became the first chapter of Glitter Gets Everywhere. I read the piece again recently, and despite the many other changes that took place in the manuscript since the first draft, very little has changed in those first ten pages, right down to the opening line, “I can’t decide if today is the second or third worst day of my life.”
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Glitter Gets Everywhere is my first book, and the journey to publication was surprisingly short and sweet. I started writing the book in 2018, signed with my brilliant agent, Elizabeth Bewley, in summer 2019, signed with the wonderful Tara Weikum at HarperCollins at the beginning of 2020, and the book was published in May 2021. It’s worth mentioning that I was 48 when all this happened. I genuinely believe I could not have written this book any earlier. It took me decades to have the courage to put my heart down on paper and send it out into the world, so maybe the actual answer is 48 years rather than four! I feel incredibly lucky—Kitty’s story landed in the right hands at the right times.
What are some of your favorite classic MGs? Recent ones?
How long do we have? In the interest of time, I’ll stick to five classics, five more recent books, and a special mention for my all-time favorite author.
All-time favorite MG author: Queen Judy Blume. She writes with such warmth and humor while tackling complex, messy challenges that tweens and teens face. I always trusted her to tell me the truth.
Five favorite classics: Little Women, The Secret Garden, Danny the Champion of the World, Bridge to Terabithia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Five contemporary favorites: The Truth About Jellyfish, Counting by Sevens, Hello, Universe, When You Trap a Tiger, Red White, and Whole.
I haven’t included a book by a 2021 debut author, only because it would be like choosing a favorite child! Suffice it to say there are many, many fabulous new books, so please check out www.the21ders.com to find out more.
What projects are you working on now?
I am currently writing my second middle-grade novel, which is another contemporary realistic fiction story with lots of heart and humor, this one written in dual point of view. It will be available from HarperCollins in early 2023.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
I would tell my younger, present, and future self to try new things, especially if you think you won’t like them! The worst case is you were right, but you had a new experience and a story to tell; the best case is you have a new love in your life.
I would tell aspiring authors to be prolific readers. As Annie Proulx said, “writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I have an extraordinarily good sense of smell. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the situation:
- Walking into a bakery first thing in the morning or through a rose garden just after a rain shower = blessing!
- Exiting the subway station on the corner of 42nd and 7th on a blazing hot August afternoon = curse!
Where can people find you online?
You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @yvettewrites and please visit my website www.yvetteclark.com
Yvette Clark is the author of novels for young readers. HarperCollins published Glitter Gets Everywhere, her debut middle-grade novel, in May 2021.
A Brit by birth and a New Yorker by design, Yvette lives in Manhattan with her husband, two teenagers, and a small blue cat. She loves trampolining, singing, and baking and plans one day to attempt to do them concurrently.
Yvette is proud to be a mentor for a fantastic organization called Girls Write Now. Find out more about them here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway