Author Spotlight: Shannon Doleski

March 27, 2020

We are excited to feature author Shannon Doleski and her middle grade novel, MARY UNDERWATER (April 7th 2020 Amulet). 

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Cover art © Helen Musselwhite
Cover design © Hana Anouk Nakamura 

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for kids. 

I was a middle and high school English teacher, so I've always like that age, particularly 8th and 9th graders. But in general, I like kidlit a lot. I think there's so much hope and possibility in the age group.

Congrats on your book, MARY UNDERWATER. Tell us about it and what inspired you. 

I was inspired by a John Mayer song called Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967, which is about a man who builds a submarine and takes it to Tokyo. I heard it and thought, "Why can't a girl do that?" And then I set it where I had lived in Maryland. I had a friend who always said he wanted to swim the seven miles across the Bay, and I combined the two ideas.

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between? 

I think a mixture of both. I wrote the book quickly, in the spring of 2015, and then I queried for about seven months before I signed with my agent, Veronica Park, now at Fuse Literary. We connected with #pitmad on Twitter. But then it took a long time to sell Mary. I think we were on submission almost for three years. I revised it along the way and wrote different books in the meantime. 

What projects are you working on now? 

I am drafting a middle-grade post-apocalyptic love story. It's very strange. I love it.

What are some of your recent top MG picks?

I loved Janae Marks' From the Desk of Zoe Washington, Loriel Ryon's Into the Tall, Tall Grass, Kit Rosewater's Derby Daredevils, and Tanya Guerrero's How to Make Friends with the Sea. I cannot wait for AJ Sass' Ana on the Edge, Nicole Melleby's In the Role of Brie Hutchens, and Lorien Lawrence's The Stitchers.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Be flexible but trust your gut. I changed Mary Underwater from lower YA to upper MG, and it was something I really had to think hard about, but I think remaining flexible and taking chances will help you get and agent and sell your book and find the truth in your story. But you definitely need to stay true to yourself. It's a fine line.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I'm pretty much an open book online, so this is tough. I played clarinet and was my high school's athlete of the year. I'm the jockiest nerd and the nerdiest jock. :)

Where can people find you online? 

I'm @shannondoleski on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok - everywhere! Also, my website is

Shannon Doleski was born and raised in Cazenovia, New York. After graduating from Niagara University with an English Education degree, Shannon was an English teacher and swim coach in New York and Maryland. She and her family live in West Texas.

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  1. Looks like a great new book for middle schoolers

  2. I've seen this before and can't wait to read this book.

  3. I've been following this book closely. It looks wonderful!! I love that Shannon describes herself as jockiest nerd and the nerdiest jock. So funny!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. This book looks so interesting! I can't wait to read it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This looks like an excellent book, I'd love to have a copy. Thanks.

  6. Wonderful! This looks like a fun read! Congrats!


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