Author Spotlight: Sabrina Kleckner
April 22, 2022
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Hi, thanks so much for having me! I’m Sabrina, and my debut middle grade novel, The Art of Running Away, was released in November 2021. Books had a huge impact on me when I was younger, so that’s the main reason why I write for children. I also think middle grade is just such an interesting and dynamic age group to write about, so I have a lot of fun working in this category!
Congratulations on your middle grade debut, The Art of Running Away! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
The Art of Running Away is about twelve-year-old Maisie who, after learning her family’s art shop is in danger of closing, runs away to London to find her estranged older brother. He works in finance, so Maisie hopes he can help her save the store. But upon reconnecting with him, she learns why he ran away from home six years prior, and this information makes her reconsider everything she thought she knew about her family.
I really like writing about characters with intense passions, so that was one reason why this story came about. Maisie and her brother both love and find comfort in art, but at times it is also something that causes them pain. I enjoyed delving into how art shaped them both into the people they are, and also how it is something that at times bonds them together and at other times pulls them apart.
I was also interested in writing about the complexities of allyship, in the sense that I wanted to explore how good intentions don’t necessarily equate with good actions. Maisie is a very passionate person who tends to act before she thinks things through. Sometimes this serves her well, but other times it results in her causing unintentional harm. A lot of the characters in this book love each other deeply, but it’s because of that love that they sometimes hurt each other. The idea that love can cause pain is interesting to me, so I wanted to explore that here.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication felt like an eternity, but it was probably on the shorter (or at least average) side of things. I started writing my first book when I was twelve, and I queried it for the first time when I was twenty. I only sent out a few, though, because I quickly realized the book wasn’t working and after eight years, I still didn’t know how to fix it. So I set that story aside and wrote another one. This new manuscript only took me a year and half to write, and I felt like it was a much stronger story. I started querying and got a lot of almosts, but ultimately no offers of representation.
My third manuscript was written for my creative writing thesis in college. It felt different from the other two in a good way--it flowed out of me much easier, and it was the most cohesive thing I'd ever produced. But when I went back into the query trenches, it didn’t do as well as my previous book. That was difficult, because I felt like instead of improving, I’d backtracked. I’d never had the urge to give up on publishing before, but this was really demoralizing and it made me question everything. Just as I was considering taking an extended break from writing, however, I received an offer from my agent! We went on submission, and a few months later we sold The Art of Running Away. In total, it took ten years from starting my first novel to finding representation, and twelve years until my debut was published.
What are some of your favorite MG classics? And recent ones?
Growing up, I almost exclusively read middle grade fantasy books. Some of my favorites were Percy Jackson, Alex Rider, Eragon, and Fablehaven.
Some recent MGs I’ve loved are Ana on the Edge, Meow or Never, and the soon to be published Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m back to working on the manuscript I shelved before writing my debut! It needs to be completely revamped, but I love this story and am determined to get it right. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk more about it one day!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I know everyone says “read,” but I really do find that this is what helps me to improve the most. Not only because it helps me to see and internalize craft, but because whenever I read something amazing, I fall in love with storytelling all over again and am reminded of why I want to write.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Before I fell in love with books, I actually hated them! I struggled to learn how to read and it took me a long time to get a good grasp on it. My first and second grade teachers would probably be surprised that I’m an author!
Where can people find you online?
I’m on Twitter and Instagram @sabkleckner. For business inquiries or more information about my book, you can check out www.sabrinakleckner.com.
Sabrina Kleckner is the author of THE ART OF RUNNING AWAY, a middle grade contemporary novel about family and identity. She began writing at the age of twelve, and is grateful to not be debuting with the angsty assassin book she toiled over in her teens. When she is not writing, she can be found teaching elementary school students or gushing about her three cats to anyone who will listen.