Author Lindsey Stoddard was destined to be a middle grade author. Once a middle school English teacher, Lindsey now spends her time creating beautiful books! Her newest novel, Right as Rain is such a great read! Check out what we thought about it below:
Review of Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard
Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard is a book all about change, grief, and guilt. A new life begins for Rain after the death of her older brother. Her mom wants a new start in New York City, so off the family goes into a new life. But a new location isn’t going to change what’s going on with Rain.
The middle grade novel follows Rain as she deals with the guilt of feeling responsible for her brother’s death. It’s both sad and awakening. Kids take on things so incredibly hard. They feel so strongly and they put the weight of the world on their shoulders. Rain tries to bury her guilt, but that can only go so far.
Kids can sometimes be forgotten by their parents. While adults might think their problems are their problems only, kids feel too. Rain does exactly this. She feels the pressure to bring her family back together. And although she’s going through stuff too, it’s her family that is on her mind so often.
This book is beautifully written. Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard gives a voice to kids who feel out of place, who are dealing with some tough things. Readers will instantly fall in love with Rain and cheer her on until the end.
Q&A with Lindsey Stoddard
After reading her book, we had the chance to chat with Lindsey ourselves! We learned about her love for hiking, the difficulties of finding time to write, and her experiences with being a middle school teacher. Read all about it here:
Tell us a bit about yourself! What do you do?
Right now, I’m busy with two young children and another two-book deal with HarperCollins! Before I had children and published my first novel, I was a middle school English teacher in New York City. I loved loved loved being in the classroom, and miss it often.
You wrote a novel called Just Like Jackie. What is it about?
JUST LIKE JACKIE is the story of Robinson Hart who is growing up with her grandpa in Vermont. She is fierce and loyal and has a hard time staying out of trouble at school. Grandpa is her only family and she is his right hand, helping him fix cars at his mechanics garage and collect sap from the sugar maples in their backyard. When she begins to notice that Grandpa is forgetting some of the simplest things, like which key goes to the truck and which goes to the front door, and which comes first socks or shoes, she is determined to keep his secret so they can remain together and she can continue being his right hand.
Your next novel, Right as Rain will be released this February! What is it about and why are you excited for its release?
RIGHT AS RAIN is the story of Rain Andrews and her family as they go through the first year of grief after her big brother’s death. Her dad has trouble leaving the bedroom and her mom is trying to push the family forward toward a fresh start, so she gets a new job and rushes the family from their home in Vermont all the way to the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. Through the novel, Rain is trying to keep her family together, understand her place in a quickly-changing Dominican neighborhood where she feels out of place, and hold the secret that makes her feel guilty, the secret that only she knows about that night, the night that her big brother died.
I’m so excited for Rain to be out in the world on February 12th! Time is a funny thing when you’re a writer. I’ve been done with the writing of RIGHT AS RAIN for over a year now and been busy drafting another character and story, so I actually kind of miss Rain! I think of her and Amelia and Frankie and Nestor and her parents often, but with the impending release I’m enjoying going back to the story, re-reading, and spending good quality time with those characters again.
You are currently writing your next novel, Brave Like That. What is it about and when do you expect it to be released?
BRAVE LIKE THAT is the story of Cyrus Olson who was left at a fire station in Northfield, Minnesota when he was baby. He’s adopted by the older, not-one-for-babies firefighter, Brooks, who is well-known in the small town for holding football records at the middle and high school. When Cyrus turns eleven he’s expected to try out for the middle school team with his childhood friends but when a stray dog shows up at the firehouse it makes him question what he really loves, where he really belongs, and exactly what kind of brave he is.
I don’t have a release date yet, but we’re shooting for the spring of 2020!
You were a middle school English teacher for ten years. What was that like and how did that experience help you become an author?
I really loved teaching middle school. I think that age is just awesome. My favorite thing about that age is that they feel things BIG– anger, fear, jealousy, happiness, frustration. Everything is BIG, which makes reading and writing stories together really exciting. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until I met my first middle school class that I knew they would be my audience. I wanted to write stories for kids who felt things big, and who weren’t afraid to look at big issues head on.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and how you create your novels?
It has changed quite a bit as my life has changed, actually. I used to be a spread-my-notebooks-across-a-cafe-table-with-a-chai-latte-and-linger-in-the-world-of-the-story kind of writer. I’d write a page or two and revise every page every day so I’d come out at the end with a solid manuscript that felt pretty polished. Then I had a baby. Then I had another baby. Now I’m constantly thinking and writing little bits in my head as I care for them, and as soon I have a couple hours of childcare I open my laptop and pour it out and leave mid sentence with half my tea still sitting in the bottom of the cup.
What all my novels have in common is that they all began with a voice. I heard Robbie years before I wrote her. I knew her voice so well that I was starting to talk like her and by the time I sat down to write, it was natural. I knew her. Same with Rain and Cyrus. It started with their voices. Then I focus in on those BIG emotions I felt when I was that age. For JUST LIKE JACKIE, I focused on the feeling of sitting with my own grandpa growing up when he struggled to remember the ends of his sentences. Then I asked myself, “What if? What if he were my only caretaker?” For each book I’ve focused in on a BIG emotion like that from my own life.
What has been the biggest struggle for you as a writer?
Time! I sometimes wish I had hours and hours to linger and write and revise day after day, but life happens too! My son is 2.5 years old and my daughter is 1 and I am incredibly grateful that I get to be so present for their childhood, but man do they keep me busy. And they have made my heart and my writing grow two full sizes.
Is there a fun fact about yourself, unrelated to books and writing, that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?
I love being out in the woods! My husband and I are, very slowly, hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail (which stretches from Georgia all the way to Maine) which is how we named our son, Miles– for all the Miles we’ve hiked together. And you guessed it, our daughter’s name is Paige. We are both big readers.
What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?
The advice that worked for me was to try focusing less on my audience (which at the time was my students) and more on ME. An advisor of mine at Vermont College of Fine Arts told me to think back to little Lindsey, ten-year-old Lindsey, some time in my life where I was feeling things big, and that if I could use those emotions to fuel my characters, then my story would be honest. I use that for every single book.
What do you want readers to gain the most from your novels?
First, I hope that my books help readers find a love of reading, or continue a love of reading and stories.
Through my stories, I hope kids see the importance of finding your people, building your team, recognizing your family, and following what makes your foot tap and heart beat faster.
Your career seems like it has only just begun! Where do you see yourself going from here?
Well, I’m currently under contract for two more books, BRAVE LIKE THAT and another untitled novel, so if all goes to plan, you’ll see at least two more from me. I’d love to continue writing and as my children get older and more independent. I could see myself getting back into the classroom in some capacity. But as Rain would say, right now that’s a big who knows!
Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with the readers?
I have been so blown away by the readers who have reached out to me through my website. You are such thoughtful, important people and I love hearing from you! I hope you continue to find community around books– that you keep on reading and thinking and questioning and listening.
Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard will be available for purchase on February 12th!