Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shameless Use of Child Labor: Kiddo on being a Novelist's Son

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Today I'm taking a page from Julia, whose kids pop in and out of the Jungle Reds blog with some regularity. It's a stressful (and wonderful) time — prepping for Bouchercon, finishing one book (THE PARIS SPY) to turn into my editor on 10/15, while getting ready for another to be published (THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE on 10/4), and the subsequent book tour. And so I've enlisted eleven-year-old Kiddo's help — thank you, thank you, thank you!

KIDDO: Being the son of an author has its perks and disadvantages.

One perk is I get to meet a lot of cool people including but not limited to fellow authors such as R.L. Stein, Holly Goldberg Sloan (the author of the novel Counting By 7s that I’m reading for school), editors such as Kate Miciak, who is one of my mom's editors for her book, and her agent, Victoria Skurnick (but we call her “Agent V” after the character "Agent P" for Perry the Platypus on the TV show Phineas and Ferb). Agent V hung out with me once when mom was signing books and got me candy while we waited and lots of really cool books.

Mom also signed a deal with Daisy Ridley, who is Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Rey is so great. Daisy wants to play Maggie Hope. Everyone at school thought that was totally cool! And then Agent V got me an autographed picture from Daisy Ridley. She wrote "May the Force be With You." Which is AMAZING.

But also one of the downsides is that my mom (like all parents) works a lot because it’s really hard. She has to write a whole novel and create characters and it’s a mystery and the mysteries need clues and her character Maggie Hope has to sometimes has to figure out codes and my mom has to create the code and then come up with the solution.

When she’s sitting right there in front of me, sometimes I can’t speak or say anything to her because she has to work. I know when I can't talk because she gets a funny glazed look in her eyes.

Another plus is I get to read her books before anyone else, which is awesome! Because I get to find out what Maggie's latest adventure is. Also, Maggie has met a lot people including (but not limited to) Winston Churchill, Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth), and Eleanor Roosevelt. In the new book Maggie gets to meet a woman named Coco Chanel, who invented a perfume called Chanel No. 5 (which was my grandmother's [Miss Edna's] favorite perfume). 

But a downside is that sometimes she can change her story; a long lasting friendship could turn into a horrible disaster, or someone you thought was evil turns out to be on Maggie’s side.

And that is what I love (and sometimes hate) about being the son of an author. 

Do you have any questions for me? I can answer them when I get home from school. Thanks! Peace.

(Maybe someday I’ll write a book about it!)

SUSAN: Thanks so much. How can I ever thank you?

KIDDO: How about $20?


  1. Susan, thanks for introducing us to your Kiddo . . . I just love this post!
    [And, yes, it certainly is cool to have an autographed “May the force be with you” photograph from Daisy Ridley.]
    My question for Kiddo: What is your favorite subject in school? Why?

  2. Well, Kiddo, you write a great post. Could this be the start of your real life career? Susan, thank you for sharing Kiddo with us.

  3. Great post, Susan and Kiddo. I might shamelessly steal the idea of my teenagers as guest bloggers. Still laughing.

  4. Great job filling in for your mom, Mattie! I wonder what you'll want to be when you finish growing up? You've got a lot of talent:)

  5. Hey, good work, Kiddo! You sound like you enjoy writing. Did you catch on to it at home or school? Or both? My father acted in plays occasionally, so I used to write vignettes for him to see if he could get them produced. No luck there, but it was fun.

  6. So pleased to 'meet' Kiddo! I do hope there's a book contract in your future!! My question: do you get to do any creative writing in school?

  7. Mattie,

    This was a great post. It helps gives us insight into a writer's life from outside observer's perspective.

    I can see you're very articulate and love to read. What's your favorite subject in school? Do you like to write stories too?

  8. Mattie, you are great! And what a help to your mom to take over writing today. Let me ask you a school question… Does your school teach cursive handwriting? What do you think about that?
    And also… Besides your mom's books, what are you reading these days? Do your pal three? And do they read book books, or e-bookS?

  9. This is what happens when you dictate comments. " Do your pal three " is what the dictation software thought I said, when I actually said "do your pals read?"
    I hope you do a better job of proofreading than I do :-)

  10. Give him the bucks, Susan! He earned it.

    Great essay, Mattie. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. How exciting that you get to meet famous authors you like. And I love that you read your mom's books (my boys read mine, too - but they're a little older than you). Do you ever give your mom tips on how to spread the word about her books? And do you ever go on tour with her?

  11. Kiddo has filled in admirably, Susan. Good luck with your release of The Queen's Accomplice and hitting that deadline on The Paris Spy. Enjoy B'con!

  12. Good to meet you, Kiddo. My daughter would love that picture of Daisy Ridley (I think. She's 16, so her likes and dislikes change daily).

    I'm with the others: What is your favorite subject in school and why?

    Susan, I think he earned the $20.

  13. Hey Kiddo, your talent is worth more than $20! Before you know it, you may have your own Agent V!

  14. I think I see the makings of a blogger here.

  15. Oh, I love this post. Such a nice thing to do to help your Mom out, Mattie.

    Love your autographed photo of Daisy - isn't she great? She sings with Barbra Streisand on the legends new CD (performing At the Ballet from A Chorus Line). Check it out, I think both you and your mom will enjoy it.

    No questions, you have enough homework to do, I suspect. ;)

  16. Good post, Mattie! Do you ever suggest changes to your Mom's stories?

  17. Great post, Mattie! Definitely $20! What do you think you'd like to do when you grow up? And do your parents have the coolest jobs of any of your friends at school?

    One more--what's your favorite subject?

  18. Mattie/Kiddo, well done. You're a lucky guy, having two such talented and creative parents, don't you think?

    And good job, Susan, channeling the creativity in the next generation. And if you pay the $20, that makes Kiddo a professional!

  19. Hi Mattie, we all kind of know you through your mom, so it's great to read your words! I have a question for you: Tell us one of your mom's funny little writing habits ... Like, when she's getting frustrated, what does she do? Or, what's her favorite writing snack? Or, what's her favorite way to procrastinate? Cheers!

  20. Susan, you know by now that I am a big fan of Mattie/Kiddo! As well as being so cute, er handsome, he is witty and interesting and has good taste in authors. This one is going to lead an awesome life, which, of course, has started with having two parents who love and encourage his awesomeness.

    Mattie, great post today! You do indeed deserve the twenty dollars. My question is about your name, now that you're getting to be a young man. How strongly do you feel about being called Matt instead of Mattie now? And, are you aware of what a powerful smile you have? Please don't break too many hearts, dear boy.

  21. It's nice to meet you Kiddo! I enjoyed reading your post -- it looks like you've got your Mom's writing talent, and the picture of Daisy Ridley is way cool. Your Mom writes about a very important time in world history -- do you enjoy reading about that time period?

  22. Mattie, you are a total cutie, and I loved your post. :). I love your mom's books too. What are some of your favorite books in general that you enjoy reading?

  23. Mattie, if you decide to write a book about being the son of an author, I promise to buy it! Are there any other kinds of books you might consider writing? You have definitely inherited the writing gene from your parents. In your mom's books, do you ever disagree with her about who gets killed?


    Your Kiddo's smile warms my heart, and I needed that today! (And I believe he has earned at least $20 for today's blog post!)

    Deb Romano

  24. I really enjoyed your post, Mattie, and I hope your mum gave you that $20. Your writing is certainly worth least! I look forward to seeing you guest write on Jungle Red Writers again.

  25. Susan,

    Thank you for inviting Kiddo, aka Matt / Mattie. Yes, he earned that $20 :-)

    Question for Kiddo:

    It must be awesome having a novelist Mom and a puppeteer Dad. One or two questions:

    1) Did you bring your Mom or Dad to Career Day at school?

    2) Have you visited the taping for Sesame Street?