Happy book birthday to Anne Nesbet and her middle grade historical fiction, The Orphan Band of Springdale (Candlewick, 2018). We asked Anne about her writing journey.
Middle Grade Mafia: What was the inspiration for The Orphan Band of Springdale?
Anne Nesbet: My mother’s extended family all come from a small town in rural Maine,
and we would go back there in the summer and camp on the farm. And
whenever we drove down one particular back road, my mother would gesture
in the direction of one particular old house and say, “Now THAT’s the
orphan home I used to live in sometimes when I was a kid! My grandmother
ran it.” Well, we asked a bunch of questions, and the story we got was
that my mother’s immediate family didn’t have much money (she went to 11
different schools in twelve years, because her family could never pay the
rent), and when things got especially tough, my mother would be shipped
off to live in this children’s home run by her grandmother in Maine. And
that’s the seed of this story!
MGM: What is your writing process? (Do you write every day? A certain
number of pages, etc).
AN: Whether I write every day depends on where I am in the process, of
course. If I’m drafting something new, I do try to push forward a bit
every day so that momentum will (SO I HOPE) kick in and take over.
Revision involves a lot of thinking and plotting and despairing and
rebounding, so some days produce more words than others.
MGM: What is the best piece of advice you can share regarding writing?
AN: Despair is a necessary part of the writing process; when you find
yourself despairing, say, ‘Oh, this is the despair that is a necessary
part of the writing process!’ and then check that off your to-do list and
MGM: How long from when you started writing the featured book until it was
AN: About three years.
MGM: Was there anything different about writing this book compared to your
previously published books?
AN: Yes! I got to go do research in Sanford-Springvale Historical Society
and read the entire 1941 run of the Sanford Tribune and see my cousins!
MGM: Can you share a fun photo?
AN: Here’s a picture of two places that show up in fictionalized form in
the fiction–the one-time orphan home and the family cemetery deep in the
Thank you, Anne Nesbet, for giving us insight into your wonderful new novel.