Author Spotlight: Renee Beauregard Lute

September 25, 2020

We are excited to feature author Renee Beauregard Lute and her debut middle grade novel, 
THE EXCEPTIONAL MAGGIE CHOWDER (Albert Whitman, October 1, 2020).

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Illustration by Luna Valentine. Cover Design by Valerie Hernández

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

I've always loved writing, and went to grad school to write edgy poetry and short fiction. I took a class on writing for children, and loved it so much that I took another kidlit class, and another. I realized pretty quickly that that was what I wanted to do.

Congrats on your recent middle grade book, THE EXCEPTIONAL MAGGIE CHOWDER. Tell us about the story and what inspired you.

Thank you so much! The Exceptional Maggie Chowder is about a twelve-year-old girl who wants to be just like her favorite forest ranger superhero, The Exceptional Eagirl. (You'll find Eagirl comics in every chapter of The Exceptional Maggie Chowder). Her dream is to attend Junior Forest Ranger Camp.

When her dad loses his job and her family has to move from their house into a small apartment, Maggie has to deal with some big feelings. Her best friend LaTanya moves from her house into a mansion after her own dad's glamorous new job, and suddenly Maggie's big feelings double in size. Maggie is faced with the idea that her life is turning into a giant bummer while LaTanya's life is getting really amazing. 

Maggie makes some big mistakes and deals with her giant feelings, but with the help of her family, LaTanya, and Eagirl, she is able to turn her summer around and become the hero she wants to be.

I was inspired to write this book when my family moved from our house in Rhode Island to an apartment in Washington. I was an adult at the time, with kids of my own, but those feelings that Maggie has in the book are exactly the feelings that I had during the move! I missed my house. It was a bummer. (It all worked out. We've lived in Washington State for seven years now, and I just love it here.)

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

It was probably something in between, but it sure felt long and winding. I had a spreadsheet where I kept track of my querying for Winicker Hates Paris, the first book in the Winicker Wallace series. I received about one hundred rejections! I found my first agent when another agent said "I think this might be what my friend is looking for," and it was. I sent Winicker out to agents over the course of two years before finding representation. I was pretty focused, and learned to treat querying like a job.

What projects are you working on now?

Right now I'm on submission with another middle grade novel, and I'm writing a holiday rom-com for grownups! It takes place on Whidbey Island, and it's so much fun. (I love a holiday rom-com.)

What are some favorite recent MG reads?

I'm obsessed with the Vanderbeeker series by Karina Yan Glaser.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?

Keep writing! Keep sending that work out! And try to think of publishing and writing as separate jobs. Publishing is submitting, rejections, offers, marketing, so many things. Writing is just sitting down with my laptop and doing the work. It really helps with my productivity if I think of them separately. 

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

I once performed with Kenny Rogers in his Christmas concert in Worcester, MA.

Where can people find you online?

Twitter: @ReneeBLute

Instagram: @reneeblute



Renee Beauregard Lute is the author of The Exceptional Maggie Chowder and the Winicker Wallace series. She lives in a blue house just outside of Seattle with her husband, three young children, two cats, and cockapoo.

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  1. I love the Q&A! I also had a big move like this in my childhood twice. Treating publishing and writing as separate jobs is pure wisdom!

  2. I love the idea of the story being based on Maggie having to move. I can think of many students that will relate to this conflict. Can't wait to read the book and share it with my students.

  3. You performed with Kenny Rogers?! That’s a fun fact! Was it just the 2 of you?

  4. Can't wait to read this book! Congrats on your writing success--I also enjoy rom-coms, both books and movies.

  5. Definitely on my TBR list! I put in a request for the Virginia Beach Public Library to purchase it and they did!


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