The Space Between Lost and Found: Review and Author Interview

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From the acclaimed author of Extraordinary Birds, a powerful story about family, friendship, and the light that can be found even in the darkest of places.
Cassie's always looked up to her mom, a vibrant woman bursting with grand ideas. Together they planned to check off every dream on their think-big bucket list, no matter how far the adventures took them. The future seemed unlimited.
But then came the diagnosis, and Mom started to lose her memories. Even the ones Cassie thought she'd never forget. Even Cassie's name.
Cassie tries her hardest to keep Mom happy . . . to focus on math lessons and come up with art ideas that used to burst off her pen. But as Mom's memories dimmed, so did Cassie's inspiration. She's even pushed away Bailey, the one friend who could help make things okay.
So, Cassie decides to take action. It's time for one last adventure… even if it means taking a big risk to get there.

Sandy Stark-McGinnis was born in California. Early childhood dreams: Play quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams or work as a forest ranger. Instead, she became a teacher, a job she found deeply fulfilling.
Currently, she teaches fifth grade, and is amazed and inspired by her students every day. She spends her time reading (of course), and traveling with her husband and two children. Sandy believes her thirteen years as a competitive swimmer trained her to have the discipline and perseverance to journey through a writing life. Her middle grade debut, EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS, was released by Bloomsbury on April 30, 2019.

Q: Hi! Welcome to Teachers Who Read!! We are so excited to host you. I love to always start with – What was your inspiration behind becoming a middle grade author?   
A: I had a writing mentor who told me she thought I had a great middle grade voice, so I took her advice and started writing Extraordinary Birds.
Q: What was your influence for The Space Between Lost and Found? I know your author’s note gives a little insight, but for those that haven’t read it yet can you give us any background information. 
A: My dad suffered from Alzheimer’s and I wanted to explore what that experience would look like through the eyes of an eleven, twelve-year-old.
Q: Can you describe your revision/editing process for students? Also, do you start writing on paper/computer/etc?
A: My process has changed. I would start writing a novel with a beginning and an end and just let myself write—which worked well because it allowed me to connect to voice. But now, I work from a synopsis before I begin writing my first draft. Even though I have an outline of where the story goes, I still give myself the space to find the voice of the character. Connecting to the voice of a character is important for me, not to mention it’s one of my favorite parts of writing. I used to write a full draft in long hand. Now, I write on the computer except when I’m stuck. When I’m not sure where to go, I go back to paper and pencil. It creates momentum for me.
Q: How do you manage teaching still AND writing such amazing stories? (Also this is my DREAM and I need some inspiration to get it going!)
A: Well, I was a pretty serious swimmer when I was younger and through high school. I used to get up at four o’clock in the morning to make practice, go to school, then after, practice again. When I started writing, it was somewhat easy for me to carve out a time and be consistent because I’d had the experience of dedicating myself to swimming.
Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching 5th grade?  
A: My favorite thing is my students! They are at the age where we have great, serious conversations. Every day I’m in awe of the insight they have and how much they take care of each other. They give me hope! And, they get my jokes!
Q: What advice would you give to middle grade students who are writing? 
A: I think the important thing is to write (and read), be open to the journey of learning about the craft and be willing to apply what you learn to your writing.  
Q: Future middle grade projects that you are currently working on? 
A: Well, right now I’m working on another contemporary, realist middle-grade that is somewhat based on a personal experience I had when I was younger.
Q: What were your favorite books as a kid, and what do you recommend to middle grade classrooms?   
A: I wasn’t a big reader when I was young. I didn’t come to love books until I was in college and fell in love with stories through movies. It was then I started to read books! There are so many great middle grade books out there, but some I’ve read recently and loved are Worse Than Weird by Jody J. Little, The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel, Quintessance by Jess Redman, and The Queen Bee and Me by Gillian McDunn.

You can also order her debut, Extraordinary Birds HERE! :) (and in paperback)
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