On the Way Down

Tomorrow, March 14, is the book birthday of my debut middle-grade novel Matylda, Bright & Tender, a novel I started in the summer of 2012. I came home one night recently, and there was a box on the dining table, addressed to me. I opened it right away—and inside I found a necklace, with a note from one of my closest friends . . . the note said that even though she couldn’t be with me in person, she hoped I would wear the necklace on publication day and keep her near me that way.

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I looked at the necklace closely, and on each silver circle were words:

She took the leap

and built her wings

on the way down.

It didn’t take long for the tears . . . because this person understood where art (in this case a story) comes from. The tears came because it is such a gift to be seen and loved and understood for all of who we are, with the knowledge that writing requires bravery, and leaps into the unknown, and the hope and trust that we’ll get stronger every time we dive. I’ll be wearing my necklace tomorrow.

I’m also doing two events very soon that I wanted to let you know about. The first is a middle-grade panel at [words] maplewood bookstore on Saturday, March 18, at 4 p.m. I’m excited to be on this panel with other middle-grade authors Sally PlaBarry Lyga, and David Weisner, and I’m especially happy that my very funny, smart & sassy friend and fellow writer Jenny Turner Hall will be the moderator. It’s sure to be a thoughtful discussion, with a lot of laughs I promise! If you’re in the New York / New Jersey area, I hope you can come.

Then on March 28, a Tuesday at 4 p.m., I’m doing a solo presentation as part of the Maplewood Ideas Festival. I’m honored to be in this impressive line up, and I’ll be sharing my journey of writing Matylda, Bright & Tender, how I transformed the worst thing that ever happened to me into art, into story. I’ve been working hard on this one, because it means so much to me personally. The talk runs about 30 minutes or so, and we’ll have time for questions after.

I’m a writer and a literary agent, and up till now, I’ve written under pen name Hallie Durand. With Matylda, Bright & Tender, a novel with a plum line straight to my heart, I decided it was time to integrate my agenting career with my writing career, and from here on out I’ll be writing under my given name, Holly M. McGhee.

I hope you can come, and bring your children ages 8 & up if you like—I’ll do everything I can to make you glad you did.  

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Holly McGhee