Author Spotlight: Rochelle Hassan
April 29, 2022
We are excited to feature author Rochelle Hassan and her debut middle grade novel, THE PRINCE OF NOWHERE (HarperCollins), out on May 2, 2022. Enter to win a copy!
|Cover art by Carly A-F; design by David DeWitt|
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Thanks for having me, Kidlit411! I'm Rochelle, and I write MG and YA fantasy. I first started writing as a kid myself—both fanfiction and original work—so kidlit was what I gravitated to because those were the stories I knew and loved. Now, I remember how much my favorite books and characters meant to me when I was growing up, and I can only hope that my writing matters that much to someone else one day. Kid lit is imaginative, fun, hopeful, and often very challenging and nuanced; I never get tired of it.
Congrats on your middle grade debut, The Prince of Nowhere! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
The Prince of Nowhere is about 12-year-old Roda and her shapeshifter friend, Ignis, who embark on a treacherous journey through freezing, enchanted mist to solve the mystery of the cryptic anonymous messages she's been receiving.
It's about friendship—the kind of friendship where you start off on shaky ground but then form a bond that's even stronger because of what you had to overcome to get there. And it's about the time in your life when you're starting to make all kinds of decisions—about your future and what kind of person you want to be—and it's exciting, because there's all this potential. But it's also scary, because you don't know if you're going to choose right.
I usually find my inspiration in the natural world and other media. A few sources of inspiration for The Prince of Nowhere include: every story I've ever heard about crows being clever and mischievous, my visit to the Ghibli museum in Japan (and the specific emotion I feel when I watch the falling scene in Spirited Away), and Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
It was somewhere in between. What took the longest was realizing that I wanted to, and could, pursue publication seriously and that I could start right away. The idea of publishing a book had always been somewhere in the back of my mind, and I experimented with writing stories just for myself on and off, but it always felt like a "maybe someday" kind of thing.
Once I started writing with the intention of getting published, it took a few years, multiple manuscripts, two mentorship programs, and many, many rejections. But it felt like I was making constant, steady progress, because I was learning a lot along the way by studying craft (using books, blogs, podcasts) and working with critique partners.
What are some of your favorite classic MGs? recent ones?
I grew up on fantasy series like Tamora Pierce's Tortall books (The Immortals quartet is my favorite), Emily Rodda's Deltora Quest, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, and anything else I could get my hands on that had magic, adventure, and characters I could stick with for a while.
As for recent ones, I'm absolutely loving the graphic novel Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh. I was also lucky enough to read an advance copy of The Clackity by Lora Senf, which comes out this June and is delightfully spooky!
What projects are you working on now?
I'm currently working on my YA trilogy (book 1, The Buried and the Bound, is due out in early 2023) as well as more middle grade fantasy.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
When you're starting out, just have fun with it and don't worry too much about getting feedback or getting published. Find the joy in it.
Once you've learned joy and passion, embrace dedication and discipline. Finish your projects. You learn a lot from taking a manuscript all the way, beginning to end, including revision—no matter how flawed it is.
Last, when you want to level up, don't be afraid to try new things. Don't get hung up on one "process" or set way of drafting, plotting, revising. Honing your craft is a lifelong endeavor.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
As a kid, I sang in a choir and played the violin! Not well, mind you. But I have fond memories from that time.
Where can people find you online?
Rochelle Hassan is an author of middle grade and young adult fantasy. Her work includes The Prince of Nowhere, which will be released in 2022 from HarperCollins, and The Buried and the Bound, due out from Macmillan in 2023. She likes chai, animated films, used bookshops, and traveling light.
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