Hello Tracy. Please tell us about your new book, Hot Ticket.
With the help of her best friend Lucy, a Daria-esque Madeline and her semi-crush Crammit, Juliet is determined to catch the ticket dispenser and climb a few rungs on the middle-school social ladder. Unfortunately for Juliet, things don’t quite go as planned…
You list your book as a middle grade mystery, meant for ages eight to twelve. What makes this a mystery novel?
The sixth graders of John Jay Jr. High have been receiving hot tickets for cool things they’ve done all year, and shame tickets for doing something embarrassing, like falling asleep in class or making a bad joke. Juliet hasn’t even received a shame ticket, which is even more frustrating because she does more embarrassing things in one week than most people do in their lifetime. Juliet decides to unmask the ticket dispenser, knowing that solving this mystery could make the ticket system completely pointless. It’s a risk she’s willing to take, especially since she feels she’s being deliberately ignored by the person giving out the tickets.
Juliet’s list of suspects is short, but when the yearbook committee decides to find the dispenser, and the Students for Ticket Preservation start to work against Juliet, it’s only a matter of time before someone else solves the biggest mystery Triple J has ever had.
This sounds like a fun story for the youth. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
I was working at Curtis Brown and my colleague Amelia said the phrase “Hot ticket” to me one day. I’d never heard it, but I realized that the equivalent when I went to school was to say “Points” when someone did something cool, or “Negative points” when someone did something uncool. So I asked myself, “What would happen if hot tickets were physical things, and someone actually handed out hot and shame tickets?” I became excited at the idea of a physical representation of the “cool points” system, and how one anonymous person could change the whole social hierarchy of their school if they were able to make their system stick. I wrote the first chapter during my lunch break, and sent it to Amelia, who encouraged me to continue. Thus, HOT TICKET was born!
You also wrote another YA story called Effie At The Wedding. What is this book about?
As the bouquet is tossed and the cake is eaten, Effie will have to find a reason to celebrate... or get used to her porcelain throne.
Both books sound intriguing to me. I think the youth would enjoy them. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
Juliet’s favorite book and movie series is Bailey Bean, Girl Detective, which is modeled after my love of Nancy Drew stories. When I was Juliet’s age, my friend and I tried to read all of the Nancy Drew Case Files that the school library had. (It had to be over 100, and that’s how I earned most of my Accelerated Reader points!) Nancy herself does slip into the book once, when Madeline is trying to convince Juliet to let her help with the case. Juliet wants to work solo, like her icon Bailey Bean, but Madeline says, “I’ll be the George to your Nancy” and is eventually allowed to help.
So you put a little of yourself in this novel. That’s awesome. I think a lot of us do that in our stories. We put a little of our self in one of the characters, giving him or her something that we love or enjoy or even a phobia that we have. It makes the story come alive. Thank you very much for this wonderful interview, Tracy.