Meet the author of "The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes"
In just a few short days (March 6 to be precise) a wonderful middle-grade novel hits the shelves with the release of The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes. It was a treat to read this book in advance. It’s a fast-paced adventure about kids who have a love for science, a fascination for all things spy related, and are just realizing that they have inherited some special talents. Smartly written, not only with the inclusion of science, the book also delights with a diverse cast of characters and well-placed references to civil rights’ history and more. This could be an excellent jumping off point for some nonfiction reading about Harriet Tubman, the Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ruby Bridges. I highly recommend this read not only for its intended middle-grade audience. I thoroughly enjoyed it as well and think it’d be a great read for older kids or for parent/child paired reading.
WIN A COPY!! Comment below with your favorite spy movie, spy character, or spy gadget for a chance to win a paperback copy. (Or an e-book copy if you live outside the US or Canada.) Comments made until March 10 at midnight (CST) will count. Winners announced on March 11!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The 7th graders of Windsor Middle School are excited to start the new school year in their Advanced Science classroom. They’ll work on CRISPR-Cas9, a new gene editing technology exciting scientists all over the world.
Marty shares a love of science and all things spy-related with his best friend, Christopher, who witnesses incidents Marty can’t explain away. The two are soon testing Marty’s superpowers. What about their classmate, Aisha? Does she have a superpower?
A stealth high-tech drone, piloted by international goons, constantly monitors the kids. They awaken the annoying school bully, Wade to his own superpowers and convince him to steal valuable CRISPR-Cas9 data. Marty, Christopher and Aisha band together to stop the theft at their beloved International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Who will win? International goons or the superhero team of “Advanced Science 303”?
I’m happy to celebrate the upcoming release of this title with author, Lora Hyler. Thanks so much, Lora, for joining us today! First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you began your writing career?
I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child and would try my hand at writing novelettes. This led to a career in journalism. I worked in radio news for NPR affiliate, WUWM and ABC affiliate, WISN, both in Milwaukee, Wis. Then it was on to corporate communications management for We Energies, and Journal Communications. I founded my own public relations and marketing company in 2001, Hyler Communications, where I strategized and wrote for many top companies and universities. Creatively, I wrote screenplays and short stories. While my husband and I were raising our son, I began to think about writing children’s books.
What was your inspiration for this book and these characters?
My son, William and his friends. This sparked the idea for multicultural superheroes who go on a mission to do good, and at the same time, they’re just kids. On a family trip, I had more fun at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. than my kid. I wanted to bring the fun of spy gadgets into play, while also showing that kids can have fun learning science.
I just love that your characters are interested in science, not afraid to be smart, and have serious treasure troves of techy gadgets. I was enthralled with the description of all the spy gear. Does all of this stuff really exist or is some of it from your imagination?
Yes, some of the spy gadgets in the book are real, and others stem from my imagination. I plan to purchase spy gadgets from a number of websites to use as props during my school visits!
I’m so pleased as well that this will be a three-book series. Is it too soon to ask if you can give us a sneak peek of books two and three?
I can’t wait to get back to writing! I can tell you that book two will feature the girl introduced as part of the superheroes team of Advanced Science 303 in The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes. Girl power! We plan to publish book two in 2019, and book three in 2020. The focus of book three is still under development in the wacky brain of the author.
Did you always plan to include references to Civil Rights’ History and the history of African-Americans in the story? You did such a good job making those scenes/conversations fit in naturally—all I was thinking is that now I need to learn more about Ruby Bridges and the Tuskegee Airmen.
Thank you. I thought early in the writing process about where Mighty Marty Hayes’ superpowers came from. I landed on the idea of his grandmother as the source and began to imagine how she would have used her superpowers. Given the era in which she lived, aiding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a good choice. The other Civil Rights references just began to flow. Readers will also get introduced to African-American spies who actually lived.
I have to ask about your delightful interior art. Can you tell us a little bit about the artist? Was it your idea to include these and can we look forward to more images in the final book?
One day I discovered his beautiful artistry on the Internet. He lives on the island of Barbados and was happy to take on his first children’s book. All of our meetings have been via Skype. He sometimes drew as we talked. How cool is that? Working with my book illustrator was great fun as I saw my visuals in my mind enhanced and created with such vitality. Yes, I would love additional images in my next books. I’m a visual writer, stemming from my screenwriting days, and I’ve spoken to kids who want more pictures.
Other than this series, can we look forward to other stories from you?
I plan to keep writing children’s books. I feel a strong sense of community within the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In fact, I gifted my illustrator with a membership! I love the creativity of writing children’s books, and the opportunity to re-visit being a 12-year-old. I recently exhibited at Milwaukee Comic Con. My 7-foot-tall banner of my book cover really reined them in, and I had such a great response from children and adults alike. A bit of rock star treatment. I think I’ve found my niche. I also have adult book ideas, both fiction and non-fiction. Those will have to wait.
What’s your writing kryptonite?
I love the various phases that go into creating a book (inspiration, research, drafts, critique partners), and the team pushing toward publication. But, I would love to write faster!
Who is your favorite author, and what do you like most about their work?
That’s a tough one. I’ll have to go with a short list. Maya Angelou. Astrid Lindgren. Kelly Barnhill. Kwame Alexander. Jakob Wegelius.
What book are you reading now?
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I was turned onto this book by a former Wisconsinite, Ashley Hearn, who mentored Tomi. This West African-inspired fantasy went onto the market and led to something like a 17 publishing house bidding war. The book debuts on March 6, same as my book. The movie rights have been sold. Look for it in the theaters. Hey, I want a movie deal!
Is there anything that I’ve missed asking that you’d like readers to know about you or your book?
I’ve had a long career promoting other people, products and services, so I look forward to promoting my own novel. My national media campaign is underway. I have a nice slate of conferences, book festivals, and school visits planed, with much, much more to come. My event schedule will soon be posted at lorahyler.com, my new author website. Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Thanks Lora! I appreciate you stopping by and congrats on your book release!