Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Q&A with Christina Uss




Christina Uss is the author of the new middle grade novel A Few Bicycles More. It's a sequel to her novel The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle. She lives in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.


Q: A Few Bicycles More is a sequel to your novel The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle. Did you know when you wrote the first book that you'd be writing a sequel, and do you think your character Bicycle has changed at all from one book to the next? 


A: I hoped with all my hoping that I’d get a chance to write a sequel to The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle, as I felt like my character still had so many adventures left in store.  


I was really inspired to write A Few Bicycles More after receiving many letters from readers asking where Bicycle’s family was—I wanted them to know Bicycle wasn’t an orphan, but a beloved child who just got seriously misplaced. I’ve had an image in my head for over a decade of her sisters seeing her for the first time across a road while they’re all eating chocolate bars. Now that image is finally in the new book! 


I do feel like Bicycle is the same intrepid, independent soul she was in the first story. She still won’t back away from a challenge, wants to do her best for the people she cares about, and thinks a lot of problems can be solved if she can hop on the seat of her bike. 


Q: How would you describe the relationship between Bicycle and her bicycle, the Fortune? 


A: Bicycle and the Fortune are best friends. They trust each other, have fun together, and even when it’s not easy, they make room for each other’s quirks. 


Q: The Kirkus review calls the book “A heady rush of girl power paced by the delights both of biking and bringing out the best in oneself and others.” What do you think of this description? 


A: I love this description! I do think cycling is one of those activities that brings joy and a sense of powerful independence to everyone who does it. It brought me joy to write about Bicycle introducing her family to cycling. And a major theme of the book is how belonging to a family does not mean changing yourself to fit in; the true meaning of family is helping each member be the best version of their innate selves.  


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story? 


A: First, don’t be afraid to be who you already are. Second: adventures come in all shapes and sizes! While I highly recommend pedaling 4,000 miles if you can swing it, fabulous things will likely happen when you ride your bike anywhere: to a friend’s house, or the pie-eating contest, or karate lessons.


In the words of the Fortune, “Sometimes you choose your own adventure. More often than not, though, your adventure chooses you.” 


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: I’m in the thick of a new novel filled with madcap midnight mayhem. It’s got a girl who stops needing to sleep, her new friend who’s a trouble magnet, adorable nocturnal animals, and cheese fries. 


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: My bike and I have the MOST fun doing school visits, and we’d love to come do a bike-to-school day author visit at every school across the U.S. if we could! I think there’s only 100,000 of them or so. How many miles of biking would that be? Maybe that could be the plot of the next Bicycle book…


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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