In the Middle with Adriana Brad Schanen

This week we are In the Middle with Adriana Brad Schanen, author of the adorable Quinny & Hopper.


Quinny has a lot to say. Hopper gets to the point.

Quinny has one speed: very, very, extra-very fast. Hopper proceeds with caution.

Quinny has big ideas. Hopper has smart solutions.

Quinny and Hopper couldn’t be more different. They’re an unstoppable team. But when summer ends, things suddenly aren’t the same. Can Quinny and Hopper stick together in the face of stylish bullies, a killer chicken, and those new Third Grade Rules – especially the one that says they’re not allowed to be friends anymore?

Combining emotional realism and adventure-driven plotting, this young MG alternates between the comically-different perspectives of a boy and a girl whose close summer friendship runs smack-dab into the uncertainties of a new school year that could change everything…maybe even for the better.

Quinny & Hopper is available on IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and in bookstores near you.

Q&A with Adriana

What draws you into writing for an MG audience?

I was a restless, reluctant reader as a kid. Picture books were fun, but I stalled after that. I remember sitting there in 3rd grade, staring out the window as the teacher droned on from a giant language arts textbook. And those numbered reading comprehension questions at the end of each section were just the pits. It all felt like an obligatory blur.

Today there’s often more choice and creativity in early elementary language arts curriculums, but I still think we lose a lot of kids in between picture books and middle grade. I want to grab hold of that 8 and 9 year old and keep it interesting for them, keep them in the game. If kids aren’t having that special relationship with a book and a flashlight under the covers at ages 8, 9, 10, they may not hang on with books at all.

I’m particularly drawn to writing contemporary/realistic early MG because that’s what reached me at that age. I could have used more Ramona, and older Ramona, and foreign Ramona, and Ramona in a wheelchair. Like millions of other kids, I loved Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume’s books, but that kind of flesh & blood reading felt separate and somehow less legitimate than the textbook reading we did in school.

The author, when she was about Quinny & Hopper's age, posing with her childhood neighbor and bff, Kirsten

The author, when she was about Quinny & Hopper’s age, posing with her childhood neighbor and bff, Kirsten

If you had a time machine and could visit middle-grade you, what would you tell her?

Can I bring stuff, too? If so, I‘d go back and hand 2nd grade me The Year of Billy Miller and Anna Hibiscus. Then I’d zoom ahead to 4th grade me and offer her One for the Murphys and So B. It and The Penderwicks.

Lastly, I’d find 7th grade me and tell her to take her creativity seriously. Pursue it, indulge it, develop it. Don’t think of it as goofing off. It’s currency, lifeblood. It’s how you’ll try to make the world a more beautiful place.

Or maybe I’d just give her a copy of Miss Rumphius. No one needs picture books more than people who think they’ve outgrown them.

Is there an interview question you’d love to answer but haven’t been asked?

Well…I’d love to be asked how I manage to keep my home so clean and my children so well-mannered and my complexion so radiant, all the while producing profound, witty, world-changing books. Alas, it has not happened yet.

For the time being, life is filled with dust bunnies, tweeny bickering and insomnia-induced pallor — not to mention a meandering second manuscript in need of merciless revision. And the gratitude I feel for every crazy, beautiful moment of it all is bone deep.

Dust bunnies are part of the creative process, right? Thanks for dropping in, Adriana, and congratulations on your debut!

Adriana Brad Schanen was born in Romania, raised in Chicago, and now lives in the vibrant, diverse town of Montclair, NJ with her husband, two daughters and a shaggy 60-pound lap dog named Oliver. She can often be found in her attic study, writing books for kids and teens or the occasional screenplay. Her first early MG novel, QUINNY & HOPPER, releases June 10, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion.
Connect with Adriana on her website,, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Let's chat, shall we?

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