Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Q&A with Alma Fullerton




Alma Fullerton is the author of the new middle grade novel Flipping Forward Twisting Backward. Her other books include No More Plastic. She is based in Ontario, Canada.


Q: As someone who is dyslexic, did you base your character Claire in Flipping Forward Twisting Backward on your own childhood experiences?


A: I was never as outgoing as Claire socially, nor was I ever as bold, but some of her experiences are very similar to my own. I did have a group of children gang up on me and I did push a boy away from me and he fell and knocked his teeth out.


I also always felt bullied by my teachers like Claire does; however, I realize as an adult most of them were just trying to help. In Flipping Forward Twisting Backward Mrs. Rose is really trying to help Claire but she doesn’t always know how. Being an educator now I do understand how frustrating it can be for teachers when they don’t yet understand how a child learns.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The book’s title was originally Miss Understood but we wanted a title that represented gymnastics in the book more. I was stumped on a title and went through a bunch of different ones but none of them seemed to fit. So I asked my daughter’s old cheerleading and gymnastic coach Tami Finley Smitten for help.


She looked at the uneven bar skill Claire is trying to perfect and the movement in that skill would be flipping forward then twisting backward. She suggested that for the title. Flipping Forward Twisting Backward was perfect because it works both for the gymnastics move as well as Claire’s dyslexia and her character arc throughout the book. 


Q: What do you think Sarah Mensinga's illustrations add to the story?


A: I loved Sarah’s illustrations immediately. They really helped bring Claire and her struggle to life. I think the use of floating letters around Claire at times is perfect.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Lately, I’ve been trying to work on a second middle grade novel for Peachtree about a girl who is trying to keep a positive attitude even though the life as she knows it is falling apart, as well as some illustrations for picture books I’ve written. Much of this is on hold for a month; my family is in the process of moving from Ontario to Prince Edward Island.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I think it’s important for both parents and teachers to understand any child can learn. We simply need to find out how each child learns. I also think it’s important for children to know that they should never allow anyone else to tell them they can’t achieve something in life.


If you work really hard you can achieve anything. If your goal is to be in the NHL or go to the Olympics and you try your hardest you may only get close to that goal because some things are out of your control. However, you’ll never look back on your life and say what if I tried. It’s better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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