A middle grade debut that’s a heartrending coming-of-age tale, perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Counting By 7s.

Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again. 

Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn’t realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in forever.

I loved this book so much!!!! It was so sweet and I highly recommend it. I was lucky enough to be able to interview the author, Greg Howard, and he was a lovely person.

Who was your favorite character to write? Why?

My favorite character to write was definitely Riley. It was the first time I’d written in a middle-grade voice and I was surprised at how easy it was to fall into Riley’s heart and mind. I pulled a lot of his personality from my own when I was his age and I loved viewing the world through his honest, unfiltered eyes. It was very liberating and somewhat cathartic.

What was your favorite part of writing The Whispers? Least favorite part?

I love writing humor. And through every revision, I’m constantly “punching up the funny.” Riley’s sense of humor is very quirky and he’s an extremely witty kid, most of the time without even realizing it. I think that speaks to his sometimes brutally honest narration.

My least favorite part of writing The Whispers was all the raw nerves I kept hitting. This is a deeply personal story and I through the writing process, I uncovered a lot of feelings and emotions that I’d ignored for a long time. Or as Riley says, I’d pushed them “behind the big wall in my brain where I put things I don’t want to think about too much.”

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Read more and write more. Don’t worry too much about the business side of publishing. You will end up spending plenty of time on all that. When you’re not writing, read. When you’re not reading, write. The more you write the better you will become, and every book you read along the way will help you on that journey.

What is your go-to book when you are feeling down?

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is full of such great advice for writers and it’s seasoned with Anne’s witty self-deprecating humor. It’s hard to take yourself too seriously after reading that book. It also helps you realize that we, as writers, all have the same doubts, struggles, and bad habits.

Where is your favorite place to write (inside the house or out of it)?

Most of the time I write on the lumpy sectional in my den with my three dogs laying all over me. It’s not the most comfortable place to sit for hours, but that’s where I’ve done my best writing, so I’m not about to change it up now.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Germany – I’ve just always wanted to go there. I took three years of German in high school, so I know how to ask where the bathroom and the library are, so I should be good.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Television.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Jeff Zentner, Becky Albertalli, and Kathleen Grissom have all been particularly gracious to me—offering advice, counsel, promotional support, etc. Through their kindness they taught me to pay it forward and always offer the same generosity to new writers who reach out to me.

What Hogwarts’ Houses would you sort your characters into?

Riley – Gryffindor

Dylan – Ravenclaw

Gene Grimes – Slytherin

Tucker – Hufflepuff

Greg Howard grew up near the coast of South Carolina. His hometown of Georgetown is known as the “Ghost Capital of the South” (seriously…there’s a sign), and was always a great source of material for his overactive imagination. Raised in a staunchly religious home, Greg escaped into the arts: singing, playing piano, acting, writing songs, and making up stories. Currently, Greg resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with his husband, Steve, and their three rescued fur babies Molly, Toby, and Riley.

I really loved reading this book and a review should be coming on it. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have interviewed Greg Howard and I will be picking up his future novels. Remember to fill out my survey. You can find the link to it on my About page. Thanks for Reading!!! Have a Great Day!!! -Annalee and Buttons

Week One

January 14 – Novel Novice – Creative Instagram Picture + Spotlight

January 15 – Pages Unbound – Author Q&A

January 16 – Bookish Connoisseur – Creative Instagram Picture

January 17 – Velarisreads – Review

January 18 – The Desert Bibliophile – Playlist

Week Two

January 21 – Bookish Bug – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

January 22 – A Bronx Latina Reads – Review

January 23 – Buttons Book Reviews – Author Q&A

January 24 – The Hermit Librarian – Review + Book Aesthetic

January 25 – Andy Winder – Author Guest Post: The Whispers is a middle grade novel that features a queer protagonist. What influenced you to write LGBTQ middle grade and what are some of the positives or challenges of writing in this genre? Do you have any LGBTQ middle grade book recommendations?