About the book:
Thirteen-year-old Kat can think of dozens of good reasons not to go on a boring family vacation to hot, grungy Mexico. Number one: missing her friend Fiona's minicamp. If she's not there, she'll begin eighth grade as a social reject. And it looks like she's the odd girl out on vacation, too. When Kat's parents arrange for her and her younger sister, Barb, to go on a teen adventure tour, Barb makes more friends than she does. The only person who will talk to Kat is Nando, a young Mayan guide (who happens to be quite a cutie). Each day as they travel to different Mayan ruins, Nando tells Kat and Barb another installment in the original legend of Muluc, a girl who lived in the time of the Ancient Maya. The dangerous, dramatic world in which Muluc lives is as full of rivalry, betrayal, jealousy, and sacrifice as Kat's world at school. And as she makes new friends and discovers new treasures in Mexico, Kat begins to wonder: Is she willing to keep sacrificing her self in exchange for popularity?
An Interview with Sydney Salter:
Me: Your first novel was YA, this one is MG. What differences did you notice in writing and publishing for a younger age group?
Sydney: I don't think there's too much difference between writing middle-grade and young adult; I try to make each character unique and complex no matter what. I am discovering that publishing middle-grade is different. Elementary school kids are definitely Internet savvy, but they don't go online to read blogs or book reviews--they play games. My middle-grade book also has to appeal to parents, teachers, and librarians in a way that my teen novel didn't. I do feel more relaxed this time around--although that might just be exhaustion!
Me: What was your favorite part of writing JUNGLE CROSSING, and what was the hardest?
Sydney: I loved researching Mayan culture by reading and traveling. I had so many wonderful details to include in the book. The hardest part was leaving out sections that didn't move the story along (no matter how fascinating they were--to me).
Me: Did you draw on any people/places/experiences from your life while writing?
Sydney: I brought a notebook along with me to Mexico and almost all of my notes ended up in the novel--like my experience swimming in an underground river. Oh, and holding a monkey!
Me: What was the most exciting moment during the publishing process? The scariest?
Sydney: I'll never forget standing in my kitchen when my agent called to say that my editor for My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters also wanted to acquire Jungle Crossing. So thrilling! Jungle Crossing is the story that finally got me to accomplish my life-long dream of writing a novel--so it will always hold a special place in my heart. What's scary? Hoping readers love it as much as I do. Oh, and those reviewers too!
Me: What are you working on now?
Sydney: I have another YA called SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK coming out in April 2010. And, of course, I'm always cooking up something new!
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Sydney even more! More interviews to come next month. :)