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Kids' Q&A

A. E. Cannon

Describe your latest project.
The Loser's Guide to Life and Love is a contemporary YA take on A Midsummer Night's Dream. Everyone is in love with the wrong person, beginning with Ed McIff, who works as a clerk at a video store and wears the nametag of a former employee called "Sergio." The problem arises when a beautiful customer (aka the girl of Ed's dreams) assumes he really is Sergio... and poor, besotted Ed does nothing to correct her mistake.

The story is based on an actual experience my son had working in a video store one summer. Like Ed, he wore a badge bearing the name "Sergio." And also like Ed, he became more Sergio-esque as the summer wore on. Naturally, I had to write about that.

  1. The Loser
    $16.99 New Hardcover add to wishlist
    "[T]he romantic tension is palpable, there is a Shakespearean climax replete with costumes and kissing, and thus-inclined readers will find here at least a few hours of satisfying, if fleeting, romance." Kirkus Reviews
  2. On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe (Puffin Easy-To-Read) "[A] hilarious marriage of words and illustrations meant to entertain and build reading confidence....Let's hope for many more adventures from these pirates." Kirkus Reviews
  3. Way Out West with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe (Viking Easy-To-Read: Level 3) "[T]here are plenty of silly characters and wordplay and an abundance of references that boys may find amusing." School Library Journal
What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
Well, I'd love it if Eloise could show me around the Plaza — if only it were still a hotel instead of condos!

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
I'd love to live in Middle Earth, in spite of the danger. Middle Earth gives its characters a chance to test themselves in truly heroic ways. And besides, have you ever noticed how those hobbits are always eating? I would like that. Yes, I would!

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
Shannon Hale, author of Princess Academy, needs no introduction. I'm a huge fan of her work. Like all great writers of fantasy, Shannon has the ability to create an alternate reality that feels authentic and recognizable. I think her first novel, The Goose Girl, is my favorite.

Describe your most memorable teacher.
Mrs. Roberta Jugant, my sixth-grade teacher, was the first grownup who told me I had a "flair" (her word) for writing. Also, she introduced me to my favorite book when I was a kid — A Wrinkle in Time. Meg Murry gave me hope that if I just hung in there, I could do great things, too!

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
I work part-time as a bookseller in a fabulous store in Salt Lake City called The King's English. While I was shelving one night, I discovered The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson. It was so sad and beautiful — and yet so hopeful, somehow. I loved it.

What was your favorite story as a child?
Here's what I didn't like — The Ugly Duckling. I hated how mean everyone was to the Ugly Duckling.

What do you do for relaxation?
I garden. I also like to read mysteries (I love the Hamish Macbeth series) and knit (but not while I'm reading mysteries). I also love taking really, really long walks first thing in the morning.

What is your idea of bliss?
Hmmm. Eating would have to be involved somehow, right? I think going to my favorite Mexican restaurant (the Rio Grande) with my husband and kids on a hot summer night is pure bliss. So's sitting on the beach, watching the waves break and curl. Getting a first whiff of lilac scent in late April can't be beat. And there's nothing better than watching Utah mountains turn blue at twilight.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A spy. Or an astronaut. Both of these professions appealed to my practical nature.

Why do you write books for kids?
Because I like kids and I like kids' books. Did you know that making a kid laugh is the best feeling in the world?

Tell us about your pets.
Oh, we have plenty of those at our house. We have a big brown newfie who's 160 pounds. Her name is Zora. We also have Aggie — a sweet but shy little brown field spaniel. Two cats reside here — Clio and Coco. And we have a parrot who does a dead-on imitation of me answering the telephone.

If you could be someone else, who would that be, and why?
Um. Angelina Jolie? Does that make me sound shallow? But. Come. On. Look at her!

If you could pick anyone to illustrate one of your books, who would it be and why? Conversely, if you're an illustrator, for what author would you like to illustrate?
The fabulous Elwood Smith illustrated all three of my Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe books. I would work with him again in a heartbeat!

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A. E. Cannon is the author of numerous books for young people, including Cal Cameron by Day, Spiderman by Night, winner of the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel; The Shadow Brothers, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an American Bookseller Pick of the List; and Amazing Gracie, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA 100 Best of the Best Young Adult Books of the Past 25 Years. A. E. Cannon currently writes a weekly humor column for the Deseret Morning News. She has five sons and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, a parrot, two cats, and a dog that doesn't like her much.


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