Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jungle Crossing - Debut Middle Grade

Sydney Salter published her debut young adult novel, MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, last spring. Now she's the proud debut author of a middle grade, JUNGLE CROSSING. Wow! How did she do that? Read my interview to find out.

Congratulations on the publication of JUNGLE CROSSING. Please tell us a bit about the novel.

Thank you! JUNGLE CROSSING is a contemporary/historical adventure story for readers age 10 and up.

Thirteen-year-old Kat can think of dozens of good reasons not to go on a boring family vacation to hot, grungy Mexico. Number one: missing her friend Fiona’s mini-camp. If she’s not there, she’ll begin eighth grade as a social reject.

And it looks like she’s the odd girl out on vacation, too. When Kat’s parents arrange for her and her younger sister, Barb, to go on a teen adventure tour, Barb makes more friends than she does. The only person who will talk to Kat is Nando, a young Mayan guide (who happens to be quite a cutie). Each day as they travel to different Mayan ruins, Nando tells Kat and Barb another installment in the original legend of Muluc, a girl who lived in the time of the Ancient Maya. The dangerous, dramatic world in which Muluc lives is as full of rivalry, betrayal, jealousy, and sacrifice as Kat’s world at school. And as she makes new friends and discovers new treasures in Mexico, Kat begins to wonder: Is she willing to keep sacrificing her self in exchange for popularity?

This is your second novel this year! How did that come about?

JUNGLE CROSSING is actually the first novel I ever wrote, but like most first manuscripts it needed a lot of revision. But I didn’t know that back then. So I submitted the story, received rejections, and kept writing new novels. One lovely editor scrawled a comment on the bottom of her form letter rejection: Promising. Kat’s voice could be stronger. It took me two years of writing to figure out how to fix that!

In the meantime, I’d written MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, a humorous teen novel (and my fourth manuscript). I submitted this one only to agents—and snagged one! Once MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS sold to Harcourt, my agent read through my other work and really liked JUNGLE CROSSING. Together, we worked hard on another revision before he submitted the story to my editor at Harcourt. And she bought it!

So the real secret is to keep writing! Don’t just write that first novel and wait for it to sell. Write the second one, the third—you get the idea.

What's up next for you?

My next teen novel, called SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK, comes out in April 2010. It’s about a girl with five ex-boyfriends who is afraid to fall in love again, but, of course, there is this one guy… Oh, and her grandmother, a famous man-crazy syndicated advice columnist, has moved in for the summer.

What's the best place to learn more about you and your books?

You can read more about me at, follow my blog at (I give out prizes!) or find me on Facebook (I love making new friends).


Sydney Salter said...

Thanks so much for hosting me, Janet!

Janet Fox said...

My pleasure! I loved JC and still marvel at your success.

Irene Latham said...

Jungle Crossing sounds like so much fun! And thanks so much for your new blogroll featuring 2k classes. You inspire me. :)

Janet Fox said...

Thanks, Irene! I love doing this for fellow writers.