Sunday, July 8, 2012


- Win a copy of THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Steifvater (end 7/11)
- Win a copy of TRACING STARS by Erin Moulton (Ends 7/17)
- Win a copy of SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE by Joanne Levy (Ends 7/9)  

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM), a weekly event hosted by author Shannon Messenger. For a list of other MMGM posts, click HERE.

Nikki Loftin
Release Date: August 21, 2012
304 pp.
Ages 8 & up

When Lorelei's old school mysteriously burns down, a new one appears practically overnight: Splendid Academy. Rock-climbing walls on the playground and golden bowls of candy on every desk? Gourmet meals in the cafeteria, served by waiters? Optional homework and two recess periods a day? It's every kid's dream.

But Lorelei and her new friend Andrew are pretty sure it's too good to be true. Together they uncover a sinister mystery, one with their teacher, the beautiful Ms. Morrigan, at the very center.

Then Andrew disappears. Lorelei has to save him, even if that means facing a past she'd like to forget – and taking on a teacher who's a real witch.

What Lorelei and Andrew discover chills their bones – and might even pick them clean!

Nikki Lofton's debut middle grade novel will be released next month. She is here with us today to share a little about her book and how she got published. She is also providing an ARC & SWAG PACK (including candies, bookmarks & stickers) to ONE LUCKY WINNER. Read on for details on how to enter the giveaway!

1. Tell us about your book in one sentence.

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is a re-imagining of Hansel and Gretel, set in a modern-day charter school, where the cafeteria food is suspiciously delicious… and the teachers look very, very hungry.

2.  What inspired you to write this book?

I was a teacher, of course! And what teacher hasn’t thought about eating one or two of her studen- oh, wait. Just kidding.
Really, I have always been fascinated by fairy tales. They have the best villains, the most exciting plots, and the cleverest kids. I love the magic and the danger in them, and updating one of my favorites for a modern audience seemed like a pretty good idea. Of course, when I started writing, I had no idea the extra mysteries in my story would be quite so sinister…

3.  Share a little about your publishing journey?

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy wasn’t my first book. I’d signed with my agent, Suzie Townsend, on a humorous “boy book” that didn’t sell. But I’d been following my writer friends’ advice, working on a new manuscript while the first one was on submission. So Sinister Sweetness was ready to go by the time we decided to let the other one rest.    
When I started writing Sinister Sweetness, I was almost afraid of how creepy it felt at times. It was so different from the funny books I’d written before, even though this one had plenty of humor mixed in with the scariness. But it was so much fun to write, and my own sons were urging me on, insisting on being read the latest chapters every afternoon. So I kept at it.
When my agent sent it out, it was titled “Gingerbread,” after the gingerbread house in the woods in Hansel and Gretel. My editor, Laura Arnold at Razorbill, called me not long afterward, offering a two-book deal (as long as I was willing to change the title and a few other things). To tell the truth, I think the current title is only a million times better than the original!

4. What books did you read as a child?

I read everything. I started reading when I was three – whole books, according to my mom, not just Dick and Jane. By the time I was six, I’d read the childhood biographies of fifty of our nation’s heroes (we had a set), all the Encyclopedia Brittanicas, and every book my sister and I owned.
When I was nine, my school librarian gave up recommending kid’s books to me (since I’d already read them), and started me on classics like Jane Eyre and The Odyssey. I also started reading adult fiction at that age. When I hear parents now complaining about dark themes in YA literature, I want to giggle. I’m not certain my parents had any idea what I was reading then – they’d stopped keeping track.  My appetite for books was insatiable.

5. What books do you enjoy reading now?

Everything! I have two sons, ages nine and twelve, who love reading, too. So we trade middle grade and young adult books back and forth. Some of our favorites recently have been Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Remarkable by Lizzie Foley, The Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith, and (my older son’s favorite) The Rock of Ivanore. He’s loaned that one out to at least four friends, so brava, Laurisa!
I also read poetry (I write literary poetry as well), and adult genre fiction. My guilty pleasure is the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.

6. What can we expect from you in the future?

I have another contracted book that’s almost ready to be announced. This one is The Goonies meets The Lightning Thief, set underwater, and has so many fart jokes, my nine-year-old fell down laughing while reading it, and warned me that “they’re going to make you take out a lot of those farts.”
We’ll see.
I’m also one of the authors in the upcoming Dear Teen Me anthology (Zest books, November 2012). I wrote a lovely autobiographical short piece about the worst kiss in the history of kisses. Seriously, it was… horrific.

Thank you so much, Laurisa, for the interview!


Win a ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) & swag pack of promotional bookmarks, candies & stickers! 
To enter, please fill out the rafflecopter form below. 
The giveaway will end on July 23rd.


  1. Sounds really good! Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. I like the idea of a fairy tale taking place at a school, maybe it's because I work at a school and I listen to the kids talking about a ghost that supposedly haunts our school.

  3. This sounds awesome! And the fairy tale twist...ahhhh!

  4. I'm eagerly waiting for this one--it sounds fabulous!

  5. Hope to win this one--sounds interesting.
    Congrats on your publication!

  6. Oh! I read this while I was on my recent blogging break. It's a lot of fun... and a little creepy! I love modern versions of fairy tales. Great interview, ladies.

  7. Thank you for this fun giveaway! My 8 year old son would love this book.

  8. How funny, I have a short story coming out soon that's a Hansel and Gretel extension, and I know there's a Hansel and Gretel witch hunter movie in the works. H&G are getting a lot of love. Sinister Sweetness sound super.

  9. Like you, I also trade good YA books with my kids. They realized after I gave them The Hunger Games and The Scorpio Games that good old mom might know a good story once in a while!

  10. I have a 9yr old granddaughter who is beginning to get interested in reading, in a big way. She is very into the magical type of books, hence the HP series on her shelves. I'd love to win this for her.

  11. Love everything I've read about this book. Taking a fairy tale and putting in a more creepy, modern setting, has to be awesome. And, I'm not gonna lie, I would love to read this one : )

  12. Thanks for the giveaway. Book sounds good.

  13. Am loving all of the new middle-grade books being released lately! They're so much fun for middle-graders and adults alike. :)

  14. Yay! I'm so very super-excited for Nikki's book!

  15. I love fairytale retellings so this this book sounds great! Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!

  16. think my son would enjoy this he reads 3 books a day

  17. I would like to have known you when I was a child. So looking forward to your book!

  18. This sounds very Roald Dahl-ish. I'm can't wait to read it.

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  20. Can't wait to read this one -- sounds like the best back to school title ever!

  21. So I am totally excited about this book. And I'm going to buy a fresh-off-the-press copy at BookPeople in Austin. But I'm thinking about a 12-year-old girl I know who has spent her summer loving on her new baby brother, helping her mom with the tiny little guy, and I can't think of a cooler reward for this sweet little reader than an ARC and a bag full of candy. She deserves it.

  22. I would love to win! I have a special grandchild who would love to have it for his birthday coming up!

  23. I would love to win! I have a special grandchild who would love to have it for his birthday coming up!

  24. Thanks for this amazing giveaway! This book sounds great and I would love to win it!