Blog Tour - Wendelin Van Draanen

Monday June 7, 2010

Blog Tour - Wendelin Van Draanen 
author of the Sammy Keyes series

Sammy Keyes, who is smart, funny, and with detective skills that would give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money, has become an iconic character in children’s literature since the debut of the first book in the series back in 1998. Now 12 books later, Wendelin Van Draanen’s Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning series continues to entertain and excite fans across the country, eager to delve into the latest caper that our fearless seventh grader needs to solve. 

The latest book published in the series (paperback release was on May 11, 2010):

 Sammy finds herself with three wads of cold harsh cash given to her by an old, dying man. He tells her to throw the money away, but how can anyone throw away cash? That money could be put to good use (like buying a killer bathing suit to wear to the end-of-summer pool party that Casey Acosta will be at). 

Soon there is a strange man in town asking questions about the dead guy who handed Sammy the money. Does he know about the cash, and more importantly, does he know Sammy has it, and what is he going to do to her to get it back? Money changes everything, and Sammy is about to find out just how true this can be.

The next book in the series,  
Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher 
coming in October 2010!

 For junior high detective Sammy Keyes, eighth grade begins with an accusation, an inquisition, and several assorted death threats!

The history teacher, Mr. Vince, is being threatened, which at first seems funny. He’s horrible! Every student wants Mr. Vince gone. But as the threats become more serious, the question becomes—who wants him dead and gone?

With her own name near the top of the suspect list, Sammy’s determined to get to the bottom of things. But she’s distracted by a mother bearing bad news, an almost-boyfriend ducking her calls, and a date with a poofy lavender bridesmaid dress.

This latest Sammy Keyes adventure blends mystery, comedy, and a dusting of fairy tale magic as Sammy takes off her high-tops, puts on some party shoes, and steps into a whole lot of trouble.

Guest blog post by author Wendelin Van Draanen.....

Tomorrow I’m flying home. The tour winds back to my little town, where I’ll put up one last post on my own personal blog. And just as with every physical book tour I’ve been on, I’m feeling a little quiet and introspective as I near the end.

I doubt many of you knew me from before Sammy Keyes—you know me because of Sammy Keyes. Or because one of my stand-alone books like Flipped or Runaway brought you to Sammy Keyes. But there was life before Sammy, and I remember it well.

I described the environment I lived in at an earlier stop on this tour ( You likely got the picture: this was not a good place to be. And without going into the details, but just so you know, there were much darker days that led up to those.

The whole time I lived there, I tried to keep hope in my heart with my writing. One day, someday, someone would understand what I was trying to do with this spunky girl named Sammy and they’d give me a book deal.

I didn’t exactly have an office. I had a fold down desk at the foot of my bed and a Mac Classic that I stored underneath it. When the alarm would go off at 5:00 AM, I’d get up, flip down the desk, pull up the computer, sit on the edge of the mattress, and dive back into the world of Sammy Keyes.

When one of my babies would go “Waaaah!” I knew it was time to start my real day. I’d get them ready, and off we’d go, them to daycare, me to teach computer science and math at a high school. In the evening I’d do all the things we crazy mom-teacher people do, and if there was any time left before bed, I’d work a little more on Sammy Keyes.

This is how I wrote the first four Sammy Keyes books.

And during the writing of those books, I came home each day to rejects from publishers and agents in New York.  I really thought I was on to something with Sammy, but nobody in New York seemed to agree. And yes, I’m sure they thought I was nuts. They’d reject a book and I’d write the sequel. They’d reject the sequel and I’d write the third. They’d reject the third, and I’d write the fourth.

Who does that?

So no, the path to publication was not an easy one for me, but that may be why I so appreciate where I am now. Since my “miracle phone call” where Knopf picked up the four Sammys I’d written and optioned more, I’ve continued to keep my nose to the grindstone. I now have 25 books in print, all with the editor who pulled me out of the slush pile. I’ve won lots of awards, and my book Flipped will be a major motion picture this summer, with Rob Reiner directing. Life is a dream.

So why am I talking about all this? Because I was on book tour once, driving from one place to the next in the back of a Lincoln Town Car with my editor, and she turned to me and said, “I’m so glad you’ve stayed nice.” I gave her a puzzled look. “Nice? Why wouldn’t I be nice?” She just shook her head a little and said, “Oh, you’d be surprised.”

And I guess I would be. I can’t imagine forgetting where I’ve come from. I can’t imagine forgetting who’s lifted me to this place. And I can’t imagine ever losing sight of or appreciation for the people who keep me here.

So as this tour winds down and I fly back home, know I’ll be thinking about you, grateful to you, happy that you want to be part of my world, and Sammy’s. Thanks for your time, your support, and for joining me on this tour.  I’ll see you for one last stop tomorrow at It’s where the Sammiacs hang out.

(go to Sammy Keyes to be able to participate in Crack the Code with Sammy Keyes)


Caradith Craven said...

Wendelin, thanks for writing a series kids can't get enough of, would "kill" to get their hands on an ARC for the next SK book, and think of Sammy as a dear friend.
Thanks, also, for responding and reaching out to your readers in compassionate, life-changing ways that the general public will never know represent the writing profession with honor and integrity.