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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Michele Weber Hurwitz, author of The Summer I Saved The 65 Days {Interview and Giveaway}

I'm thrilled to have author Michele Weber Hurwitz stopping by today to chat about her new middle-grade book, The Summer I Saved The 65 Days! You can check out our Interview and enter the Giveaway below....

The Summer I Saved the 65 Days
by Michele Weber Hurwitz
Wendy Lamb Books/Random House

It's summertime, and thirteen-year-old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died last year; her parents work all the time; her brother's busy; and her best friend is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn't know what "her thing" is yet, it's definitely not shopping and makeup. And it's not boys, either. Though . . . has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute?
   This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are sixty-five days of summer. Every day, she'll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that her neighborhood, and her family, are full of surprises and secrets.
   In this bighearted, sweetly romantic novel, things may not turn out exactly as Nina expects. They might be better.

What three words best describe The Summer I Saved The 65 Days?

Inspiring, surprising, hopeful.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers to give The Summer I Saved The 65 Days a try?

If you're looking for a change of pace from the recent trend of dystopian-apocalyptic novels and want something that leaves you with a happy heart and a sense that there's more good in the world than bad, then this novel is for you!

Grab a copy of The Summer I Saved The 65 Days and answer the following:

favorite chapter? Actually, the first, because the last sentence is: "And that is the beginning of everything." It's when Nina, the main character, gets the glimmer of the idea for her summer of good things.

hardest chapter to write? There wasn't any one specific chapter that was hardest to write, but I did struggle a bit with a few scenes -- mostly the more emotional ones -- working through several drafts to get them just right. And, Nina's brother Matt wasn't fully defined in the earlier versions. I had to work on developing his character more than the others.

favorite page? So many! Hard to choose...but maybe, the very last one :)

hardest page to write? Always, the first.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: "Eli picks up the crab apple, throws it sky-high, and then catches it. 'See you later, Mystery Girl.' "

What inspired The Summer I Saved The 65 Days? How did the story come to be?

My inspiration came from several thoughts. We hear so much about paying it forward and random acts of kindness, but sometimes the amount of problems in our world overwhelms me, and I wondered -- does doing good really do any good? Is it making a difference? I was curious, too, if people always react positively when random good comes their way. Also, I worry about how technology has altered family life and neighborhoods, and how we live in this era of a sort of "disconnected connection." Lastly, I read about a class at the University of Iowa where the professor had students write down each day three positive events or experiences -- no matter how big or small
-- and how this changed their perspectives. I started doing that too. We tend to focus on the negative, or what goes wrong, instead of recognizing small, good things that go right every day.

So out of these thoughts, my novel started to materialize. I wanted to write something uplifting and positive and hopeful, but also examine my question if doing good has an impact.

Do you have an absolute favorite character in The Summer I Saved The 65 Days? What do you love about him/her? Did any of your characters surprise you?

Of course I adore Nina, the main character, who is inquisitive, positive, and honest. Mrs. Millman, a suspicious neighbor, is quirky and hilarious, panicky at times, but also very true-to-life. She was so much fun to write and develop. I also have a soft spot for Thomas, a 5-year old boy in the neighborhood. He's full of tender, sweet surprises! When I was writing him, sometimes his funny dialogue came out of nowhere and cracked me up.

Your character Nina decides to do some random acts of kindness; can you tell us one of your favorite acts that she does? Have you ever done a random act of kindness or been the recipient of one?

There's a pivotal moment in the story when Nina does something in memory of her grandma, who died a year earlier, and the poignancy and importance of that scene gets me every time! It's also a moment where she attempts to figure out exactly why she's doing the good things. As for me, I try to be a little kinder than necessary, as the saying goes. Just last week, I was at the airport waiting for my flight and helped a woman who didn't speak English make a call on a pay phone. She was so bewildered and lost. All I did was dial the number for her and put the coins in, but she hugged me like I saved her life. Those kinds of experiences make me just stop in my tracks and realize the impact of little kindnesses.

What do you hope readers will learn or take away from The Summer I Saved The 65 Days?

That small things matter, and they're much bigger than they seem. Also, that doing good doesn't have to be about raising tons of money or spending a Saturday cleaning up a park (although those efforts are certainly wonderful). But more just about being a good person, being nice to your fellow humans! At the end of your day, ask yourself what stuck with you. I'm willing to bet it was something little yet powerful.

As a middle-grade author, why do you think MG is so important? What do you love about writing and reading MG?

I love that middle-graders are in the middle! They have a combination of childhood innocence and burgeoning maturity, and they have so many questions. Good, deep, thoughtful questions about everything! Books can help them discover who they are and the kind of person they want to become. I feel honored to write for this audience and I hope my stories resonate. One of my most treasured emails from a reader came from Lucy, who wrote that the main character in my first middle grade novel, Calli Be Gold, "inspires me to be open and kind to everyone. She makes me want to be myself." Honestly, for a writer, it doesn't get any better than that.

Fill in the blanks:

I’m really awesome at _Organizing things. Shelves, closets, desks, you name it and I can organize it in twenty minutes flat! I often make my family crazy :)

I’m really embarrassed to admit __I can't swim.

The last great book I read was _Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Summer I Saved The 65 Days, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
This is the most creative question I've ever gotten! Hmm. Nina's brother Matt calls her "Nina-green-a," because she has green eyes, so I think that would be a great name for a cupcake inspired by this book! It would have amazingly delicious creamy green frosting, but the cake part would be devil's food, because this book is full of the unexpected.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Michele! That cupcake sounds super yummy!!

Michele Weber Hurwitz lives near Chicago with her husband and three children. When she's not writing or organizing things, she loves to walk and eat chocolate. Visit her at and follow her on Twitter @MicheleWHurwitz.

Win a signed hardcover copy of
The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days!
Michele has generously offered one signed hardcover copy for one winner.
-US only
-ends 4/30
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-I am not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
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Jax's Book Magic said...

This books looks like something I would love to read. It was not on my radar prior to this giveaway, but it is now.

Carl Scott said...

I've seen this book around a couple of times, what a fun concept. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

Judy said...

Thanks for your giveaway. This really looks like a good read.

OurForeverHouse said...

This book sounds fun. Always looking for a great summer read we can turn in to a summer mission.

Bestdayblogger said...

The book sounds amazing! Great interview and blog post! Thank you for the opportunity to win the book! :D

jennifer.essad said...

Hi Michelle - where do you go when you have writer's block? are you and outdoors person? like the beach ?

Michele Weber Hurwitz said...

Thanks, everyone, for your nice comments! Jennifer: I'm an outdoors person, but not terribly rugged! I find that simply walking in my neighborhood helps me work through writer's block. Something about moving around outside loosens up my brain and allows me to think more clearly. Hope you all enjoy Nina's story :)

Laura F. said...

Love having a chance to win a book!

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