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Monday, January 25, 2016

Guest Post: Jake Gerhardt, author of Me and Miranda Mullaly

I'm thrilled to have Jake Gerhardt, author of the super cute middle-grade Me and Miranda Mullaly, stopping by today with a great guest post! And be sure to read my review.

Me and Miranda Mullaly
by Jake Gerhardt
Jan. 26, 2016
Viking Books
The fates of three 8th grade boys converge in biology class one day, as each falls desperately in love with the same girl. There's Sam, the class clown; Duke, the intellectual; and Chollie, the athlete. And the object of their collective affection? The enigmatic Miranda Mullaly—the girl who smiles like she means it, the girl who makes Christmas truly magic when she sings, the girl who…barely realizes her admirers exist! 

But nothing will stop the guys from doing everything they can to GET THE GIRL, not even their inevitable confrontation.

Told in alternating perspectives, Me and Miranda Mullaly is a comedy of errors where small misunderstandings lead to big laughs. And beneath the humor, every attempt to win Miranda becomes a compelling look at the larger world of each guy's life.

“Jake Gerhardt’s debut novel is sweet, knowing, and a super-fun read. Takes you right back to the awkwardness and earnestness of adolescence, with a lot of cringe and even more laughs.” 
—Patton Oswalt, New York Times bestselling author, comedian, and actor


The Journey of Me and Miranda Mullaly
by Jake Gerhardt

The Idea The idea for Me and Miranda Mullaly came to me at my family’s annual Christmas party.  We were reminiscing about a fellow, we’ll call him Chad, whom my sister dated for a few months.   Chad would come over, wander around the house like a cat trying to get comfortable, then finally settle in a chair in a room with my father and begin a conversation.  Soon it became clear Chad was in love.  In love with my father.  He hung on my father’s every word, and no doubt would’ve gone out and busted kneecaps if my father had asked him.  We all knew what was to come.  Chad was crestfallen when my sister gave him his walking papers.  He was going to miss my father.
Reminiscing about Chad gave me the idea for a story about three boys who fall in love with the same girl and then get taken advantage of by the father.

The Class I took a class at UCLA specifically designed for writing for children.  Armed with my idea, about three teenagers who fall in love with the same girl, I jumped right in.  The first chapter centered on the thumbtack and still does.  
The most important thing I learned in the writing class was to write everything from the point of view of the boys, and before I knew it Mr. Mullaly was gone, only to appear briefly during the snow shoveling incident.  Chollie, Duke and Sam were now driving the story.

Karen I wrote the manuscript very quickly.  After my wife, Karen, and I read to our children every night, I would make a strong cup of coffee and get to work.  Often I would fall asleep reading to either Frida or Ada, then I would wake up and write till midnight.  Karen kept me going, gently urging me to finish the manuscript.  Her support and careful early editing were integral to my finishing the book.
From the get go I had a good feeling about the story (originally called Three Men and Miranda Mullaly, in homage to Three Men in a Boat) and with my wife’s coaching and my classmates’ notes and advice, I found myself with a funny book, pretty much what I wanted.

Dan Lazar I queried many, many agents.  After being rejected by sixty-six, I stopped counting.  It was exceedingly disappointing, it truly was, but I also felt the manuscript was pretty good.  Karen’s confidence in me really kept me going and finally Dan Lazar (Writers House) and I found each other.  I signed a contract with Dan Lazar in mid-April.  We did one round of revisions to some of the final chapters, and he sent it out.  In less than two months we accepted an offer for Me and Miranda Mullaly (Dan wisely suggested changing the title) and a second book,  now in final edits.  
Joanna Cardenas I spoke with a couple of editors who were interested in the book but from the beginning I knew that Joanna Cardenas at Viking really got it, really understood the humor and what I was trying to say.  When the offer came in from Viking there was little doubt in my mind this was the home for my book and that I would be lucky to work with Joanna.
I have a hard time with pacing, often adding too much information to the story.  Joanna has a great sense of timing and a great eye to see where I’m repeating myself or adding unnecessary details.  She was essential in helping me bring Miranda alive on the page, especially because Miranda had fewer pages to tell her side of the story.  
The final third of the original manuscript dragged a bit.  I felt I needed to explain more than was necessary.  Joanna cut the superfluous parts and kept the story flowing at a fast and lively pace.

Jake Gerhardt was born and raised in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. He attended Elkins Park Middle School, where he played football and basketball, ran track, performed in the school musical, and was a member of the student council. He also found time to attend many school dances, in constant pursuit of various Miranda Mullalys.  

Since graduating from West Chester University, he has worked as a teacher. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his pulchritudinous wife and two amazing daughters. Me and Miranda Mullaly is his first book.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Jake!

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