Just finished a SUPER FUN author visit for the AMAZING fifth and sixth graders at Chatterton Elementary School in Merrick, Long Island, my hometown! We read, acted, laughed! Can't wait for the next visit to Lakeside Elementary School, where I went, on May 31st!
I am so overwhelmed by the friends, family, co-workers, collaborators, co-workers, and students who came out to celebrate! The whole night was magic:)
Read full interview here.
STACY DAVIDOWITZ #CAMPBREEDSWINNERS
May 13, 2016
MEET STACY DAVIDOWITZ, PLAYWRIGHT, SCREENWRITER, & AUTHOR
Q&A WITH TYLER HILL CAMP ALUM
What sparked your interest to become a writer?
There’s something about holing up with my laptop that makes for a wild Saturday night. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I come from a theatre background—even earned my MFA in Acting—and both writing and acting allow me to step into alien shoes and play. But as much as I love acting, I find writing to be extra fulfilling—my characters can say what they want to say, I can say what I want to say, and I can take enormous risks while eating cereal in bed. It’s awesome.
One of my earliest writing memories is at camp, staying back from Canteen to create camp-set horror stories to read to my bunkmates before bed. Maybe that’s where the spark originated—from the high that comes with sharing. It’s palm-sweaty scary to write something and then release it into the world, but it’s also the most gratifying part of the job.
Was it super easy and fun to write your latest books because they were about camp and you love camp?
Okay, let’s break this one down. Super easy? Nope. Writing books is hard! Before the camp series, I was exclusively writing plays and screenplays. I pretty much had never written prose. I think the last short story I wrote was in fifth grade about eating bagels at the beach.
The book took years to write—it transformed from eleven points of view to five to two. It went from first person to third person omniscient to close third person. It went from present to past tense. Truly an adventure—I learned huge amounts. Content-wise, however, SUPER EASY AND FUN. A lot of other stuff I write requires months of research. This series, it just flew out. There’s so much to delve into, I didn’t even touch Color War until the third book! And sidenote: Do you know what a dream it is to professionally write Color War SING songs?
How many years did you attend camp?
I pretty much transitioned out of diapers, went to camp, worked at camp, and even now I work at a summer program for high schoolers.
Did any of your counselors make a difference in your life?
Oh, for sure. My very first counselor—we were penpals for four years. One of my counselors set me up with my first boyfriend and made me feel infinitely cooler than I was. Another used to wake me up before reveille to go for runs. We’d talk about life and what makes us happy—she was really inspiring. In general, my counselors helped build my self-confidence when I was knocking it down. They made me appreciate being a kid, and they made me look forward to growing up.
Are you still friends with any of your camp friends?
Yup! I was the last of my age group to leave Tyler Hill Camp and so a lot of the camp friends I stay in touch with were my co-counselors, as well as the campers I watched grow from freshmen to CITs. My babies are now college grads—it’s insane.
Do any of them work in your field?
As far as I know, no one works in theatre or is a writer, but absolutely in the education field, which I’m also immersed in. Also, does the field of camp count? One of my camp friends runs Summer 365 and my family works in camping as well!
How often do you talk/see each other?
My family? Often. My camp friends? A lot of them I made as a counselor live in Canada, so we love each other through our screens. All my other camp friends I see once in a while, but when we do connect, it’s the best.
What did you learn at camp that has made a significant difference in your life?
I learned to take risks. To be my big ol’ weird self. To resolve issues through song. To lead. To listen. To sleep through noise. To clap at skunks. To hide visiting day candy. To laugh so hard you pee a little. To cry. To kiss. To compete. To open up. To raid. To love with all your heart. To roast the perfect marshmallow.
If you could add any activity to your camp, what would it be and why?
Literally everything that pops into my head exists or has existed at Tyler Hill. Pudding Wrestling? Check. Scuba Diving? Pretty sure that’s a check. Maybe Bungee Jumping? Actually, no. That sounds terrifying.
Anything you recall trying at camp for the first time that you would never have tried otherwise?
When I say “craziest camp memory,” what comes to mind?!
If you had super powers, what would they be?
The power to get swarmed by cockapoo puppies, but for just five minutes. Then it’s back to work.
Review and Author Interview:
Camp Rolling Hills series by Stacy Davidowitz
by KELLEE on MAY 11, 2016 · LEAVE A COMMENT · in CHARACTERIZATION, CLASSROOM LIBRARY BUY,COMPARE/CONTRAST, NOVEL, POINT OF VIEW, REALISTIC FICTION/CONTEMPORARY FICTION, ROMANCE, SETTING
Other SharingCamp Rolling Hills
Camp Rolling Hills: Crossing Over
Author: Stacy Davidowitz
Published May 10th, 2016 by Amulet Paperbacks
Author Q&A: Thank you to Stacy Davidowitz for answering some questions I had about the books and her writing!
Kellee: You share in your author’s note that your time at camp inspired these books. Can you tell us more about what inspired you, and how it directly affected the novels?
Stacy: I love camp. Truly, deeply love it. Experiencing it as a camper and then counselor and then head staff, I really got to understand its in and outs, and most importantly, the kind of positive impact it can have on a kid. So of course plots and activities and even the camp‘s layout are derived from my experiences, but also the bigger themes: friendship, being true to who you are, firsts–that’s the heart of the inspiration. I made such fantastic friends and helped nurture friendships among campers when I worked as a counselor; I experienced life-changing firsts I could never experience at home; and I learned to embrace my quirkiness with my bunkmates by my side.
Kellee: The sequel to Camp Rolling Hills is told from different perspectives than the first. Why did you decide to switch point of views? Will the next books go through the other campers’ POVs?
Stacy: When I wrote the initial draft of the first book, it was actually told from five perspectives: Slimey, Smelly, Play Dough, Jenny, and Steinberg. But when Abrams picked it up to be a series, we talked about what would work best. Ultimately we decided that each book should be told from the perspective of a different boy and girl. So Book One is Slimey and Smelly. Book Two is Melman and Steinberg. Book Three is Jenny and Play Dough. And Book Four is Missi and Wiener. If Abrams extends the series to six books, then we’ll get the perspectives of Sophie, Jamie, Totle, and Dover, too! Camp Rolling Hills is such an ensemble piece that having the series narrated by all the kids just feels right.
Kellee: You are a teacher of theater in NYC. How has your time teaching kids influenced you to want to write and want to write specifically these books?
Stacy: I teach a lot of playwriting and creative writing, even in the theater classes I lead. My students inspire me every day. Their ideas are so uninhibited. Exciting. Fresh. Alive. Honest. So of course that makes me want to do the same! It’s really cool to be able to write wacky, sweet, and adventurous characters my students can identify with. Also, writing middle grade is just so fun! Kids are smart and silly and it’s rewarding to be able to shine that light on them.
Kellee: Other than (hopeful) sequels, what’s next?
Stacy: I’m working on a dark young adult novel at the moment called Leper. I’m also co-writing a musical for Big Block Entertainment, the producers of Rock of Ages. Camp Rolling Hills the Musical. Yup, it’s a musical, too!) is getting two productions this summer. One in Westport, Connecticut at Center Stage and another in NYC at New York Musical Festival (NYMF). Plus a play of mine calledSacred Water is being workshopped at Symphony Space, NYC in early July through a festival about social change!
My Review: The crazy cast of characters are what really make this book. Oh, and the reminiscing of camp. Camp really is something that is hard to explain unless you go yourself, but Stacy Davidowitz does a great job bringing the reader into Camp Rolling Hills and all of its quirkiness. And to add to the quirkiness, the characters in the books are so much fun! They are quite the mix of personalities. From stereotypical girly-girls to a cat-obsessed, sweet girl to a do gooder to a philosophical jock. Their interactions and characterization are what keep you reading the most! I also love the mix of letters home throughout the books.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Camp Rolling Hills books would be a fun way to get letter writing into the classroom conversation. First, I’d use the letters as conversation starters into characterization asking the students, “What can you tell about these characters based on their letters?” And discuss what clues the students used to figure it out. I’d then move to a RAFT (Role, Audience, Format, Topic) activity asking each student to write a letter as a made up character they were assigned. The Camp Rolling Hills website even has stationery!
Discussion Questions: Although each cabin is filled with friends, each character is quite unique. How do the characters differ? Compare?; What would your camp nickname be?; What makes camp so special?; How did the campers change between books?
Flagged Passages: “Things to Do No that I’m in Anita Hill Cabin (Upper Camp!)
“‘Well, how do you like camp so far?’
Fine? No one describes camp as fine. Amazing, incredible, life-changing, maybe. But never fine.”
‘The first time I came here,’ she offered, ‘it took me a couple of days to realize how much I loved it, but once you do, you love it forever. You’ll see.'” (Camp Rolling Hills, p. 41)
Read This If You Loved: Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash, Hidden by Helen Frost, Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs, Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg
**Thank you to Caitlin at Abrams for providing copies for review!!**
The full interview and review is here!
The weather is finally warming up and summer is right around the corner, which means it is almost time to travel to the best place on earth: CAMP ROLLING HILLS!
CAMP ROLLING HILLS by Stacy Davidowitz (Amulet Paperbacks; May 2016; $8.95) and CAMPROLLING HILLS BOOK 2: Crossing over (Amulet Paperbacks’ May 2016; $8.95), the first two books in the laugh-out-loud series that captures everything that is perfect about summer and the years before you are a teenager. Our reviews will be coming in July, so stay tuned!!!
Young readers will want to devour books 1 and 2 in this quirky, laugh out loud series if they’re on the bus to summer camp, bored at home, or on a family vacation because where there is camp there are prank wars, smores, and the beginnings of lifelong friendship.
INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, STACY DAVIDOWITZ
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. I’m inspired by every day stuff. A lot of my friends laugh when they read my books and plays because pieces of our lives, conversations, jokes, etc. seem to make it in. I am also inspired by my students who are so brilliant and passionate!
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. Having a blast with my characters! Every day it’s a party in my head.
Q. What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. Getting rejections or anticipating rejections or waiting for rejections. Just. Rejections. Also, getting notes for a revision is really scary. My knees literally buckle and it takes me a few hours to think/digest/breathe! Once I start to tackle the revisions, it’s not so bad. It’s great actually, because the work gets so much stronger.
Q. If you could not be a writer, what would you do/be?
A. I already wear so many hats (everything from a teaching artist to a Bat Mitzvah MC)! But if I had to throw myself whole-heartedly into something other than writing it would be acting again. I actually got my MFA in Acting and do miss it—but there are just so many hours in a day!
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. I think it would be called Join the Circus, which is actually the title of my compilation of short plays published by Indie Theater Now. That, or it would just be a series of exclamation points.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. Wonder by RJ Palacio. I think I cried reading every single page.
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. Oh man! What a question. I polled my students for this one.
Katera said: “Taylor from the Michael Vey series. She’s fun and uplifting and fights crime pretty good, like you, Miss Stacy!”
Haidee said: “Lydia Small from Bad Girls Don’t Die. Because she’s an actress. Actually nevermind.”
Zola said: “Colette from Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer because she’s smart and sees visions.”
So, there you go.
Q. What character from all of your book are you most like?
A. Melman! (With a little bit of Slimey and a little bit of Play Dough.)
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. The Summertime Girls by Laura Hankin. So much friendship and all the feels.
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. Summer, baby! But fall is a close second.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. I actually had no part in designing the book covers, but designer Pamela Notarantonio and illustrator Melissa Manwill did such an awesome job! I don’t think I can choose favorites between the two of them—they’re both so pretty! Be sure to check out the back covers too where Smelly and Steinberg live. Also so adorable.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. In an interview for Summer 365, I mentioned my favorite camp tradition: The Watermelon Sacrifice. After that, the director of Tyler Hill Camp up until 2005 got in touch. He wanted to let me experience the tradition as an adult. He mailed me a series of photos of the ceremony and a watermelon rind to wear on my head. The whole thing was so amazing and funny. You can read the full story on my Camp Rolling Hills blog here: http://www.camprollinghills.com/book-news
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. Always! I’m working on a dark young adult novel titled Leper. Also, I’m co-writing a musical called One Day that’s produced by Big Block Entertainment, the producers of Rock of Ages. It’s inspired by teenage diary entries.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. Hello! Keep doing you. Thanks for reading and for loving books! They love you back, as I’m sure you know.
Thanks for the birthday gift, Shelf Awareness Pro!
Ok, here's the run down so far:
Sunday, May 15th 11:30am -12:30pm
Astoria Bookshop, Queens, NY
Friday, May 20th 6 - 8pm
Books of Wonder, Manhattan - LAUNCH PARTY!
Saturday, June 4th - all day!
Center Stage, Westport, CT - after performances of Camp Rolling Hills the Musical
Friday, June 10th 6 - 7pm
Barnes & Noble - Woodland Park, NJ
Publishers Weekly - 5.2.16
Stephanie (aka Slimey) and Bobby (aka Smelly) learn a lot about relationships in this quirky debut novel, first in the Camp Rolling Hills series. Twelve-year-old Slimey has been a camper at Rolling Hills every summer for as long as she can remember, and she loves almost everything about it. Smelly feels like he has been thrown to the wolves, sent to camp so his parents can work out their marital problems. Moreover, he has to keep "Bizarro Bobby" ("the name he'd given to his anxiety, after Superman's Bizarro") in check, hidden from his welcoming and eclectic bunkmates. Slimey senses a connection with Smelly when they talk, especially after she discusses her father's recent death. When an epic miscommunication complicates the tenuous relationships Smelly has formed, he must rise to the challenge in order to make things right. Spot-on combinations of sweet adolescent romance and teenage angst round out an engaging summer read with plenty of energy and originality to keep kids tuning in for more. Available simultaneously: Crossing Over.
Ages 8–12. Agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)
Author of the Camp Rolling Hills Book Series. Camp Rolling Hills and Crossing Over launched May 10, 2016, and Breakout! launches May 9, 2017! Order here!