Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, April 5, 2021

An Inside Look #169 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Erin Soderberg Downing
(Author of The Great Peach Experiment: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie)

*Welcome to my favorite feature of my blog.  

*Season #ONE (June of 2016 to March of 2017)

*Season #TWO (Summer of 2017)

*Season #THREE (School Year 2017/2018)

Season #FOUR
 (Summer/fall of 2018)

*Season #FIVE (School Year 2018/2019)

*Season #SIX (Summer 2019) 

*Season #SEVEN (Fall 2019) 

*Season #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

*Season #NINE (Fall 2020)

*I'm excited to be back for season #TEN with brand new interviews/authors.  

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*This is the TWELVTH interview in which I'm calling Season #TEN.  

*Thank you to Erin Soderberg Downing for being the One-Hundred Sixty Ninth author I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.

The Great Peach Experiment:  When Life

 Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie

by Erin Soderberg Downing

(April 6, 2021)

How did you come to know Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach?
I'm going to be totally honest here...I stole most of these kids' personality traits from my own three kids. Lucy is a lot like my oldest daughter Milla (who often reminds me that she's more mature as a 15-year-old kid than I am as a 44-year-old mom), Freddy is 100% my son Henry (Henry even did all of Freddy's drawings in the book!), and Herb reminds me so much of my daughter Ruby (who is always up for a hug, and is just so sweet and caring).

What do you think are their most admirable qualities?
I love that all three Peach kids love and appreciate each other, and work together to figure out how to make the most of a totally surprising and bizarre situation. When the book opens, the three kids find out that the summer break they had planned is off, and Dad has decided that their family is going to hop into a used food truck and travel around the country selling pies for a month. None of them know anything about food trucks, cooking, or road trips - yet the three Peach kids band together and decide to go all-in, since this is something their late-mom always dreamed of doing together as a family. They make the most of a tough situation, and I love that through it all, they try to keep up their love and respect for each other, and make an effort to maintain good attitudes (though Freddy is definitely more successful at this than the other two Peach kids!).

What do you think the Peach children can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what they went through?
Loss and death are hard. Really hard. And figuring out how to carry on as a family after the death of a parent is something I wish no one ever had to go through. But the Peaches are thrown into this situation, and ever since Mom died, it's been hard for any of them to figure out how to be a family again. I hope that their journey helps show that time does help with healing, and that after a loss, it's important to eventually start to figure out what the future of your family can look like--because change is inevitable--rather than trying to cling to what was.

How did you research the book and the circumstances they found themselves in?
I did a lot of research on how food trucks work, and what it would take to start up a business like this, and I practiced baking a lot of pies. But I think the BEST part of my research for this book was cramming my family into an RV and driving along part of the Peach family road trip map. I wanted to live their journey, and see what it would be like to cram a family into a tight little space for weeks on end. My family loves road trips and the randomness of a journey with no real destination in mind, but after a week squeezed into an RV together as a family, I'm not sure my kids will ever agree to an adventure like that again!

Do you and any of the Peach kids share similarities?
There's a little bit of me in all the characters I write. I'm a huge reader, like Lucy (I'm also pretty Type A, and like Lucy, would get very frustrated by the lack of planning involved in this Great Peach Experiment!). I love random facts and cool roadside attractions and meeting fun people, like Freddy. And like Herb, I am obsessed with numbers (just like Herb, I'd love being the business manager for a food truck venture like this!)

What was the hardest scene to write in the book?
There's a scene where Herb has to make some big decisions about the pet mice he found - and kept - living in the food truck. It made me cry every time I revised it, and reading it back now always gets me a little teary.

Why do you think some people are able to make “pie” out of lemons and others get stuck in the negative or difficult situations in life and can’t move beyond?
It's hard to find the silver lining when the world seems out to get you. This past year has shown us that, more than ever, and I'm guilty of being a glass-half-empty kind of person far too often myself. I think that's one of the reasons I enjoyed working on this book--each Peach kid has a different level of positivity and optimism when it comes to their family journey, and I wanted to explore what it's like to approach life from each of those angles. Freddy is 100% in from the get-go and very optimistic most of the time--and he's a happy guy as a result. He was a lot of fun to write about, because his good-natured attitude is not one I always share. Writing scenes from Freddy's perspective usually made me feel a little more hopeful about life! On the flip side, Lucy is very reluctant about The Great Peach Experiment, for a good reason--but her brothers' optimism and hope begins to rub off on her to some degree during the journey. I think it's important to spend time with people who make you feel hopeful and optimistic, even when the going gets rough, and that's one of the reasons I love writing novels--I get to create characters who make me feel happy, and spend the day surrounded by their energy!

What do you think the three siblings are doing as the present time?  
I know what they are doing - the family is working on restoring their Great Aunt Lucinda's broken-down mansion in Duluth, MN, trying to turn the place into a working B& THE PEACH PIT (Great Peach Experiment #2). The next Peach book will be out in April 2022, and it's SO. Much. FUN.

*Here are links to the One Hundred Sixty-Eight interviews...

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)

SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)

SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)

SEASON #SEVEN (Fall 2019)

SEASON #EIGHT (Winter/Spring 2020)

Interview #121 with Melissa Savage (Author of Nessie Quest)

Interview #122 with Tamara Bundy (Author of Pixie Pushes On)

Interview #123 with Lindsay Lackey (Author of All the Impossible Things)

Interview #124 with Tae Keller (Author of When You Trap a Tiger)

Interview #125 with Jamie Sumner (Author of Roll With It)

Interview #126 with Hena Khan (Author of More to the Story)

Interview #127 with Phil Bildner (Author of A High-Five for Glenn Burke)

Interview #128 with Leslie Connor (Author of A Home for Goddesses and Dogs)

Interview#129 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Queen Bee and Me)

Interview #130 with Jody J. Little (Author of Worse Than Weird)

Interview #131 with Jenn Bishop (Author of Things You Can't Say)

Interview #132 with Kaela Noel (Author of Coo)

Interview #133 with Rebecca Stead (Author of The List of Things That Will Not Change)

Interview #134 with Gae Polisner (Author of Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me)

Interview #135 with Emily Blejwas (Author of Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened)

Interview #136 with Joy McCullough (Author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost)

Interview #137 with Kim Baker (Author of the Water Bears)

Interview #138 with Erin Entrada Kelly (Author of We Dream of Space)

Interview #139 with Jess Redman (Author of Quintessence)

Interview #140 with Melanie Conklin (Author of Every Missing Piece)

Interview #141 with Lindsey Stoddard (Author of Brave Like That)

SEASON #NINE (Fall 2020)

SEASON #TEN (Winter/Spring 2021)

Interview #158 with Rebecca Ansari (Author of The In-Between)

Interview #159 with John David Anderson (Author of One Last Shot) 

Interview #160 with Tracy Holczer (Author of Brave in the Woods)

Interview #161 with James Bird (Author of The Brave) 

Interview #162 with Marcella Pixley (Author of Trowbridge Road)

Interview #163 with Barbara O'Connor (Author of Halfway to Harmony)

Interview #164 with Alan Gratz (Author of Ground Zero) 

Interview #165 with Lisa Fipps (Author of Starfish)

Interview #166 with Ann Braden (Author of Flight of the Puffin)

Interview #167 with Kimberly Willis Holt (Author of The Ambassador of NoWhere Texas) 

Interview #168 with Elana K. Arnold (Author of The House That Wasn't There)

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