Paquette is having a good year, with the publication of two novels, Paradox (Random House Books for Young Readers, June 2013) and Rules for Ghosting (Walker/Bloomsbury, July 2013), and two picture books, Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo (Clarion Books, October 2013) and Ghost in the House.
Ghost makes the list for School Library Journal's great books for Halloween: "Bouncing rhymes, bold artwork, and endearingly depicted ghouls make this counting book a read-aloud must." And Horn Book Magazine praised Paquette's tale, saying "The bouncy rhyme in this cumulative story is engaging, and the scariness level is just right for the very young."
Ammi-Joan Paquette: Oh, I was a big fan of spooky stories when I was young! And goofy, bouncy rhyme is something that I really enjoy playing with (and let’s be honest—reading, too). This particular book has an interesting history: An editor came very close to acquiring another manuscript of mine—a different spooky story. For various reasons, though, she wasn’t clicking with that piece all the way. So she asked, “Do you have any other spooky rhyming picture books you could send me?” I did not; but I quickly set about creating some! I launched a brainstorming session fleshing out five different ideas. Three of these I pursued into manuscript drafts. One of these became Ghost in the House.
Q: This has been a big year for you as a writer, with not just one, not just two, but THREE books out! And a fourth hitting shelves this month. That's a grand slam! What made the stars align so well for you in 2013?
Q: Writing for a very young audience is challenging for a host of reasons. How did you manage to strike the right balance between thrills and not-so-scary fun in Ghost in the House?
Q: You write both picture books as well as middle-grade novels. Do you prefer one genre over the other, such as the read-aloud pleasure of picture books vs. connecting with independent readers? Can you do more in one form than the other?
AJP: I really love both of the genres equally; I feel like they exercise different sides of my creative brain, and I love adapting to the restrictions and the rewards of each one. With picture books, I adore playing with language, and the challenge of packing a full story arc, character growth, and meaningful subtext into 500 words or less. And then I also love digging deeper into character and story and building worlds that spring to life in the longer form of a novel. I guess I’m glad that I don’t have to choose just one form, because I don’t know if I could!
AJP: Oh, yes! I am a big-time multi-tasker. In fact, I really think that the pause between projects is a big part of my own creative process. When I’m stuck on a problem—whether it’s a novel plot hole, or a stubborn rhyme—stepping away and doing something else has a way of freeing up my subconscious mind to nag away at the problem organically. More often than not, by the time I return to my original manuscript the solution has magically appeared at the tips of my fingers. Not everybody’s process, I know, but it works for me! And as far as what’s to come? I don’t have anything new scheduled just at this moment… but good things are brewing. Stay tuned!