Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Q&A with Amanda Panitch


Photo by Cassie Gonzales



Amanda Panitch is the author of the new middle grade novel The Two Wrong Halves of Ruby Taylor. Her other books include the middle grade novel The Trouble with Good Ideas. She lives in New York City.


Q: In our previous interview, you said that you nicknamed your new middle grade novel “the evil grandma book” as you were working on it. What inspired the novel, and the “evil grandma” character?


A: The “evil grandma” character isn't based on any one person, but the book and the character were inspired by the difficult relationship I had with my paternal grandmother.


I wrestled with that relationship a lot as a kid, wondering what was wrong with me, and had to realize as I grew up that the problem wasn't anything I did or anything I was, it was a problem with her, and I couldn't change that, just learn to live with it. It's a dynamic I've always wanted to see more of in fiction and especially in MG.


Q: How would you compare Ruby with your character Leah in The Trouble with Good Ideas?


A: I think Ruby and Leah are both similar in that they're quirky, bright, and proudly Jewish. One thing that distinguishes Ruby is her fascination with morbid science - the book starts off with her comparing matzah balls to the eyeballs she dissected in science class!


Q: How would you describe the relationship between Ruby and her cousin Sarah?


A: The relationship between the two girls changes over the course of the book. At the beginning, their relationship is twined through with the love they have for each other, but also jealousy.


Ruby feels like she's in competition with Sarah for the love of their grandmother and that she's constantly coming up short. Ruby thinks Sarah is constantly looking down on her... though, as the reader will learn, that's not entirely true!


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the novel?


A: Above all, I hope readers come away entertained by a fun story. I would also love for them to appreciate the Jewish culture and mythology featured in the book, and, if they're also dealing with a difficult family situation, find some comfort in knowing they're not alone.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm working on a number of new projects for kids, teens, and adults! I have two other books out this year: an adult romance called Sadie on a Plate, under the name Amanda Elliot, and a YA speculative thriller called Gone Dark.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I named Ruby after the line in a traditional Jewish song that goes, “A woman of valor is worth more than rubies.” Even though it might take her a while to realize it, Ruby is indeed a woman - well, girl - of valor. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Amanda Panitch.

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