Gobbledy: A Novel
Gobbledy: A Novel
by Lis Anna-Langston
. . . a fun book and I think any young reader would enjoy this for Christmas!
Gobbledy: A Novel
Holiday Middle Grade
Reading age : 8 – 11 years
Grade level : 3 – 6
Publisher : SparkPress (October 20, 2020)
Paperback : 232 pages
ISBN-10 : 1684630673
ISBN-13 : 978-1684630677
Digital ASIN : B084JRC21K
Ever since eleven-year-old Dexter Duckworth and his brother, Dougal, lost their mom, everything has been different. But “different” takes on a whole new meaning when, one day just before Christmas (or Kissmas, as they call it), Dexter finds a golden rock in the forest that hatches into an adorable alien. Gobbledy is smarter than he seems and is lost on planet Earth. Before long, Gobbledy takes Dexter, Dougal, and their best friend Fi on an adventure of friendship, family, and loss—one that requires them all to stay out of trouble, protect Gobbledy from a shadowy group called the Planetary Society, and prepare for their school’s Winter Extravaganza Play, where Dexter has to be a dreaded Gingerbread Man.
Gobbledy is a fun-filled holiday story that adds up to two brothers, three friends, unlimited jars of peanut butter, a ketchup factory, and one little alien far, far from home.
2021 Independent Press Awards Winner in Holiday: Children’s
2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Silver Winner in Young Reader: Fiction (8-12 Years)
2021 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist in Holiday
2021 Book Excellence Awards Finalist in Holiday
2020 New York City Big Book Awards Winner in Holiday
2020 Wishing Shelf Book Awards Gold Winner in Books for 9-12 year olds
About Lis Anna-Langston
Lis Anna-Langston was raised alongside the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a creative and performing arts school from middle school until graduation and went on to study literature at Webster University. She is a Parents’ Choice Gold and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Winner. She draws badly and sings loudly, and loves ketchup, starry skies, and stories with happy endings aliens. Lis Anna-Langston lives in Columbia, South Carolina. You can learn more about her at www.lisannalangston.com.
Q&A With The Author
When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?
I attended a Creative & Performing Arts School from middle grade until graduation and studied drama in the theater program, so I think I always knew I’d choose a career in the arts. I loved Dramatic Arts, and back then I wanted to be a songwriter. It was the best of both worlds: performing and writing. I wanted to write old ballads like Patsy Cline and George Strait. Then I discovered punk rock and Henry Rollins and took a sharp turn out of song writing into the much bigger world of writing short stories, plays, screenplays, and books. People always think it’s weird that I can move so fluidly between country music and punk but honestly, it just makes sense to me. Loretta Lynn is way more punk rock than people give her credit for. Writing takes a lot of different forms, from songwriting to poetry to novel writing. I’ve been doing some form of writing since I was five years old.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
Being wild and writing straight into the center of a story.
What is your favorite part of this story?
Honestly, it’s the part where Gobbledy buries the rocks in the forest. I always try to keep myself out of my work. I write fiction. I don’t want to insert my beliefs or personal experience into everything. I want stories to be organic. So, the morning I sat down to write that chapter I literally had no idea what was going to happen. When they got to the forest and I realized he was going to bury the rocks, I burst into tears. It was so special and moving. It was totally unexpected.
Which character was the most fun to write about? Why?
I love all the characters in this book, but Fi and Gobbledy were incredibly fun to write about. They have a special relationship and understand each other without words. It’s very charming.
Which character was the hardest to write about? Why?
Once I had a few drafts of this novel I could see I had a real story, but I could also see something was missing. I immediately set myself to the task of what to add. Plot, character, setting, theme? A lot of rewriting is simple addition. It’s a good place to start, but some rewrites are more nuanced and complicated. I changed elements, added scenes, charted my rising action, wrote a completely new beginning. I loved the story, but something was still missing. The missing piece followed me around like a sulky roommate wanting to borrow money and nagged me 24/7.
I asked my husband to read the current draft. A week later, he walked into the office and said, “You’ve made it too easy for Dexter. He has difficulties in the story, but you always get the sense the family will overcome it together. They love each other. The united Duckworths will prevail.”
I stared at him.
It was the simplest, best feedback. The kind writers dream of, pay money for, pray for with twitchy fingers clutching cheap pens.
I’d made it too easy. Because I welcome easy. Which is not allowed. Fiction is a long uphill climb engaged in conflict.
I did the sensible thing. I killed their mother. Admittedly, it felt weird. This is a middle grade novel. Inflicting trauma isn’t really my thing.
I unkilled her the next day. Then I promptly killed her again.
Killing is creepy to me. I prefer life in all its majestic expressions. It made me feel silly. I didn’t want to kill her, but someone had to die.
I unkilled her and killed the neighbors instead. While I’d been firmly on the fence about the Duckworth mom, killing the neighbors stood out immediately. That one choice changed the entire tone of the novel. I unkilled them before anyone could set up a crime scene. I returned to the page the next day and killed the Duckworth mom. Again.
All in all, I killed her five times before deciding to leave her in the story but move her to the background. That didn’t work, either. Dexter and Dougal’s mom wasn’t background material. She was a psychologist with her own counseling practice who came home in-between appointments to check on her sons after school. Funny and smart and dynamic, she wasn’t a weird supermom caricature. She was well-loved and deeply involved with her life. A woman who guided clients through the therapy process and created a space for her children to grow and learn. Dougal gets his sense of humor from her, Dexter his sense of adventure. The entire household resonates with the beauty of her being.
It sounds simple, but it changed everything. It was hard to write about their mom, and yet removing her from the story created a layer of depth that didn’t exist before.
Pinterest handle: @LisAnnaLangston
Twitter handle: @LisAnnaLangston
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00IXKUOEQ
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