I’ve been following Anna Staniszewski’s career ever since I first interviewed her back in 2013. I’ve featured her My Very Unfairytale Life series as well as her picture books. She also did a guest post about finding emotion within a story idea. Her newest Middle Grade book, CLIQUE HERE, centers on  Lily, whose science experiment provides a winning formula–until it doesn’t!


Lily loves science and hanging out with her best friend, Katie. But after a really embarrassing incident, she jumps at the chance to switch schools. She’s ready to start over. With the scientific process, anything is possible!

After a summer spent coming up with theories and prepping for the switch, Lily starts her new school as Blake, a popular girl with a cool name, ready to climb the social ladder.

But every hypothesis has its flaws, and Blake will have to adjust her experiment as she adjusts to her new classmates. And when Katie suddenly shows up in Blake’s world, things get messy. Who’s got the winning formula: Blake or Lily?


Since our last interview, you’ve published more picture books as well as a chapter book series. What have you enjoyed most about writing for younger age groups?

My brain is always bursting with story ideas, and I love trying out new genres and formats, so moving into books for younger readers felt like a natural step. I’ve been writing picture books for a while now, but I’m fairly new to chapter books–the Once Upon a Fairy Tale series debuted in 2019–and I’ve completely fallen in love with writing for emerging readers. Chapter books feel like the best kind of challenge: you combine the plotting and character dynamics of a novel with the concise language and strict structure of a picture book. I think writing chapter books has also helped me make my novels for older kids snappier, since I’m even more aware now of how much story you can pack into just a few pages.


That makes sense! And I love how CLIQUE HERE explores how friendships can change in unexpected ways. In what ways did this shape Lily’s story as you wrote it?

The initial spark for CLIQUE HERE was: What if a girl uses science to come up with a popularity formula? But for me, stories are really about the relationships between the characters, so I needed to know WHY she’d be desperate enough to actually use her formula. As I brainstormed, I discovered that she’d been bullied at her previous school, and she wants to use the popularity formula to keep herself safe from bullies at her new school. Amazingly, her formula works! But it also causes Lily to be less and less herself, and soon she starts acting like the exact kind of bully she was trying to escape. I wanted this book to be a funny, zany misadventure, but I also wanted to explore what “popularity” really means, and what being a true friend looks like.


What a great way to explore popularity dynamics in a way that readers can relate to! After publishing multiple books, what do you currently find most challenging about the writing process?

I mentioned above that I always have lots of ideas, but when you’re trying to shape a career, you have to figure out which ideas to work on at that moment–and which ones to put aside. That can be a challenge! Some ideas are VERY LOUD in my brain, but I can’t work on them until I finish the projects under contract first. If I wait too long, those loud ideas can get so quiet that I have a hard time getting back into them. Added to that, I try not to think too much about the market and what will sell, but those concerns are in the back of my mind as I’m working. It’s a constant balancing act!


I’ll bet it is! If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?

When I was first starting out, I’d get so frustrated with projects that didn’t go anywhere, either ones that I wasn’t able to finish or that never sold. But I’ve come to truly believe that even if a project gets shelved, working on it wasn’t a waste. I still gained something from the experience of writing it. Maybe it helped me improve on my plotting skills or I’ll be able to take some elements of the story and use them in a future book. Time spent creating is never wasted. It’s all part of the journey.


Buy: Bookshop.org ~ BookPassage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound


For Anna Staniszewski’s other books, go to https://www.annastan.com/books


Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was a Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives south of Boston with her family and teaches courses on writing and children’s literature at Simmons University. She is the author of over twenty books for young readers, including the novels Secondhand Wishes and The Wonder of Wildflowers; the picture books Dogosaurus Rex and Beast in Show; and the Once Upon a Fairy Tale chapter book series. You can visit her online at annastan.com.

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