Ask the Author: Eileen Moskowitz-Palma
What would you like readers to know about you?
As a former elementary school teacher, I couldn’t wait to connect with middle grade readers during school visits for my book tour. When all of my events were cancelled due to COVID-19, I was devastated. But then my social media feed filled up with overwhelmed parents who were suddenly thrust into working from home and homeschooling. I realized I could help. I set up a free online virtual writing camp and in the first three weeks I worked with almost 100 kids from all over the country. I am continuing to offer writing camps for children in grades two through eight through the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. I am also offering online book clubs, online school visits and printable writing resources. Visit eileenmoskowitzpalma.com for more info.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
There are two books in The Popularity Pact series.
Book One: Camp Clique
In the blink of a summer, Bea goes from having a best friend and a place she belongs to being dropped and invisible, eating lunch alone and only talking to teachers. The end of sixth grade and the start of Camp Amelia can’t come soon enough. But then the worst part of school, ex-best friend Maisy, shows up in Bea’s safe place and ruins it all by landing in her bunk. Never having camped a day in her life, Maisy agrees: it’s hopeless. She should be at home, not at this stupid adventure camp failing everything and being hated by everyone. In a desperate bid to belong, Maisy offers Bea a deal: if Bea helps her fit in at the camp, she will get Bea into the M & M’s, their town’s popular clique, when they enter seventh grade in the fall. The Popularity Pact is born.
Book Two: School Squad
Bea kept up her end of the bargain, getting Maisy “in” with the girls at camp. Now it’s Maisy’s turn to fulfill her promise to ingratiate Bea with the popular girls. When Bea is accepted into this new inner circle, she begins to lose sight of what true friendship is all about. As Bea seems prepared to sacrifice anything to be “cool,” Maisy realizes there’s more to life than hanging out with a bunch of mean girls. Can she convince Bea that the popularity pact was a mistake? Can these former friends find their way back to each other?
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
Between my teaching and mom experience, I noticed a lot of kids fit in one place in their life, while they also struggle socially in another. There’s the kid who is beloved by their travel soccer teammates, but has no one to sit with in the school cafeteria. Or the kid who has a ton of friends at school, but doesn’t know how to make new friends at camp. I really wanted to explore what it’s like for kids who feel safe and accepted in one aspect of their life, yet don’t fit in to a different part of their world.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Camp Clique ends on a cliffhanger, which was really fun to write. Because of all the streaming platforms, when an episode ends on a cliffhanger, we can watch the next one immediately. But before Netflix, we would have to wait an entire summer to find out whether Ross and Rachel would get back together on Friends. I wanted to build that kind of anticipation so kids could experience what that felt like as they wait for the second book to come out.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Honestly, there are too many to list. I have loved to read for as long as I can remember and I devoured books when I was growing up. Some of my favorites are To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, The Little House on the Prairie series. But Judy Blume is the author who really inspired me to write middle grade books. I loved how she talked about the issues that other adults shied away from. I also loved the cozy feeling of a book series like The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High. There is a lot of comfort when you work your way through a book series and feeling like you know those characters. I wanted to create that same sense of comfort for my readers, while tackling tough topics like Judy Blume does.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Enroll in a novel writing workshop. I teach at Sarah Lawrence College’s The Writing Institute and like most programs, we have both in-person and online workshops. I believe that the craft of novel writing can be taught and there is nothing more valuable than the shared life experiences of a group of writers critiquing a novel excerpt. Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor, and you will only get stronger with a writing community to support you on your journey.
Camp Clique Purchasing Links:
To support local bookstores purchase Camp Clique at Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-popularity-pact-camp-clique-book-one/9780762467457