Welcome to Kicking Back with Kick-butt!
Today we’re chatting with Anna Meriano, the author of
A MIXTURE OF MISCHIEF
The third book in the acclaimed, delightful, character-driven middle grade series about a family of Mexican American bakers who also happen to be brujas—witches!
Leo Logroño may have discovered the true nature of her magical abilities, but her education in how to use them in her family’s magical bakery has only just begun. And that isn’t the only bit of trouble in her life: her family’s baking heirlooms have begun to go missing, and a new bakery called Honeybees has opened across the street, threatening to run Amor y Azúcar right out of business.
With two of her sisters on a special spirit-hunting spring-break trip with her tía Paloma, and with Mamá busy guarding the bakery to keep away any more bad luck, Leo must work with her best friend, Caroline, and her sister Isabel to uncover who is stealing from the bakery and find way a way to save the business.
And that’s when a long-lost relative arrives at the door, mischief right behind him. . . .
Anna Meriano’s unforgettable family of brujas returns for one more course of amor, azúcar, and magia.
Let’s talk to this marvelous author about her magical book!
This is Anna. Everyone say, “Hi, Anna!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Anna! Tell us about yourself!
Hi, super excited to be here! I’m Anna Meriano, the author of the Love Sugar Magic series. I’m a tutor and part time writing teacher in Houston, Texas, where I live with my dog Cisco. I don’t bake, but I love to eat baked goods, and I am part of a real life quidditch team.
A MIXTURE OF MISCHIEF is the third book in the LOVE SUGAR MAGIC series. What was the inspiration behind this series?
I worked with Cake Literary on this series, and from the beginning we wanted to create a series that was fun and light and full of joy where Mexican American readers could see themselves. It’s also been important to me to show Leo growing into her power and getting more sure of herself as the series goes on.
What advice would you give to writers out there working on their own series? Any tips or tricks to keep track of all your plot points and character arcs? How do you make each book complete while leaving room for sequels?
One thing that really helped (besides having the amazing Dhonielle and Sona to collaborate on all my outlines) was having so many characters with different personalities and strengths and flaws. I really wanted Leo to avoid repeating the same mistakes from one book to the next, but luckily there was no shortage of mistakes she could keep making!
I guess my advice is to daydream a lot and think beyond what ends up on the page. When you’re working on the first book, there are almost definitely going to be moments where your brain goes off on a tangent or you realize that a certain moment or emotion could be explored more deeply, but you just don’t have page space to deal with it. Those are the details that are going to resurface when you start thinking about your sequel(s).
Love that! And “…luckily there was no shortage of mistakes she could keep making!” is the most awesomely middle grade outlook of all time. 😂
If you could transport your characters across book dimensions, which book would you most like them to end up in and why?
I would love to see Leo make friends with Malú from The First Rule of Punk, or swap stories with Tristan Strong. I also desperately want to send Isabel into The Resolutions so she can make some friends and learn to have a little more fun.
Why were you drawn to writing middle grade?
Middle grade is the age that kids are starting to really look at the world around them, and that’s such an exciting space to mentally return to. Fantasy works especially well at this age, because learning the rules of magic isn’t any *more* complicated than learning the rules of middle school. This is also an age where kids are learning to take more responsibility in their own lives, and that makes for great character arcs.
Any hints about your next book project?
Well I have a YA novel, This is How We Fly, coming out in October, which is a loose Cinderella retelling with a real-life quidditch team, a lost cleat, and the kind of angst and friend drama that Marisol would love.
I have a couple of other projects in mind for MG, but nothing far along enough to talk about unfortunately!
Oooh, your YA novel sounds awesome! And so glad to hear you have more middle grade ideas in the works!
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
I talk about this a lot, but I’m always floored by the support I’ve gotten from other book people, whether it’s the rest of the Cake Literary family or folks I’ve met online. It’s so much easier to navigate this industry when you have friends walking the path with you, and I’m really grateful for all of my writer, publisher, librarian, bookseller, and teacher friends who are there for me.
What are you reading right now?
Just finished Blanca y Roja by Anna Marie McLemore (an absolutely stunning book!), and recently listened to Pride by Ibi Zoboi on audiobook (narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo!). Also my last MG book was Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, so I’ve just been on an excellent reading streak.
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
The slotted spoon CAN catch the potato.
Bonus Question: What is your all time favourite recipe to bake?
Meringue because it’s basically pure sugar and it’s one of the few things I know how to bake and it’s safe for celiac family gatherings!
Thank you so much for the chat, Anna!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out A MIXTURE OF MISCHIEF and the rest of the LOVE SUGAR MAGIC series. All three books are available now!
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Contest closes Friday, July 24th at 11:59 pm EST
Thanks for reading!