Ronica Stromberg’s book Living It Up to Live It Down, the second novel in her new series, has been nominated for the Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Award. The book has also been nominated for the Sid Fleischman Humor Award.
Q. Your publisher, Royal Fireworks Press, lists this series as inspirational fiction. What inspired this series?
Like most writers of inspirational/religious/Christian fiction, I like to think God inspired it. :) I have ideas for eight books in the series, and they all came to me in different ways. The second book, Living It Up to Live It Down, was probably the most unusual. I was just going about everyday life when, one day, the phrase "living it up to live it down" popped into my head. I didn't know what it meant—or even if it had meaning—but, as a writer, I appreciate words and different turns of phrases. I kept thinking about the phrase, and over time, it became clear that this phrase was actually a story—about a young teen "living it up" at school and in her community to "live down" the fact that she is a pastor's daughter.
I am not a pastor's daughter. My father was a rough, agnostic Marine. But I felt compelled to write this story, and when I sat at my computer to do so, the words came so quickly I felt as though I were taking dictation. Some writers refer to this as writing "in flow." It had never happened to me before. Most often when I write, I plod.
Q. The first book in the series, A Shadow in the Dark, is a mystery. What prompted you to not continue with another mystery in the second book? Or does the publisher’s website just not mention the mystery aspect?
I came up with these books as stand-alones, but when I learned the inspirational market favors series, I stitched the books together with the same main character. The series is unusual because some books in it are mysteries, some romances, etc., but they all are inspirational young adult books about a young teen named Kirsten Hart. And even though the second book, Living It Up to Live It Down, isn't defined as a mystery, it has mysterious elements. One of Kirsten's main quests in that book is to understand her friend Sarah, the pastor's daughter.
Q. In your first book for Royal Fireworks, The Glass Inheritance, the main character learns about the Depression and WW2 and her grandmother’s involvement with a man who belonged to a pro-Nazi group. Can you tell us about the research you did on that project?
I've been fascinated by the Depression Era, World War II, and the Holocaust for years, trying to understand what led people to such depths. Besides reading tons of books about this, I've visited Japan; the Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald concentration camps in Germany; other German sites associated with Adolf Hitler, including underground bunkers; Pearl Harbor; The Heart Mountain Relocation Center (the Japanese internment camp in Wyoming); and many Holocaust museums around the world. I had researched far more than I was able to put in The Glass Inheritance, but the book gives upper elementary children an introduction to these historical events.
Q. How long have you been writing for children?
I first attempted writing a children's novel at eight years old. I started many books throughout my childhood and early adult years but never finished them. I always wanted to write though. About thirteen years ago, I started finishing what I wrote and submitting. I sold The Glass Inheritance first but had magazine articles and stories in anthologies hit print before it.
Q. Would you like to tell us about your current work-in-progress?
To be honest, I haven't been working on novels much lately. I've been immersed in promotions and presenting. I have started the third book in The Kirsten Hart Series and need to rework an inspirational romance I wrote a couple of years ago. I have some fun ideas for picture books and short stories also and need to take the time to get them down on paper.
Q. What’s the worst part of writing for you?
Rejection. Specifically, not knowing why a piece is rejected. If I've made mistakes in my writing, I want to know what they are so I can overcome them.
Q. And the best part?
The finished product. I love books. It thrills me to have a part in something I've always loved.
Read more about Ronica on her website: http://ronicastromberg.wordpress.com/my-books/