Monday, May 7, 2012

Interview with Debbie Dadey!

 Debbie Dadey is the author of over 150 children’s books, with over 47 million books sold.  Her popular series include: The Bailey School Kids, The Keyholders and Barkley’s School for Dogs, to name a few.  Her latest series Mermaid Tales (Simon & Schuster) launches tomorrow, May 8.  The first two books Trouble at Trident Academy and Battle of the Best Friends will both be available.  You won’t want to miss out on buying these for your own little mermaid or merman!

 I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie for dinner during a stop on her recent book tour for Mermaid Tales.  Here’s some inside scoop on her newest series and more.

Mermaids are such a fabulous topic, and so different from your other books.  Did you have to approach these much differently than the monster books? 
Actually I have written a mermaid book before, Mermaids Don’t Run Track, with my friend Marcia.  It was great to write about mermaids again, but this was definitely different because I created a whole new merworld that revolves around the adventures in an underwater school, Trident Academy.  I’m not sure if you are aware, but in the merworld, mermaids and merboys don’t go to school until third grade.  That works perfectly because I love third grade.  Not only do the merkids have fun adventures with each other, they also get to meet up with bullies, shark, whales, and all sorts of exciting ocean creatures.  The tales also include a lesson on the ocean, as well as a glossary full of the real ocean animals used in the story.

Will the Mermaid Tales books all be from the same character’s point-of-view or a different one for each book? 
Each of the first four books comes from a different character’s viewpoint, just like in the Adventures of the Bailey School Kids.  I hope if I get to write more in the series, I can continue to tell more about each character.  Before I began writing, I made character sketches of all the merpeople in the stories and that was quite helpful.

When writing a new series, how many book ideas do you start with?  Do you outline the whole series or a few books at a time? 
This is my twelfth series and each one is a little different.  Usually, a publisher wants to see synopses for at least four books, so I usually do six or more to give some options. This is just a paragraph or so telling the main idea of the story. The proposal will also include sample chapters or the entire first book, character sketches, and the outline for the first book if the whole book is not included.  With the new Mermaid Tales series, I added a Travel Guide to Trident City, a map of the city, and information about the school.  Some of that is now on my website, on the new Mermaid Tales pages.

What are you most proud of in your writing career so far?
Whenever I meet a student or parent (or receive a letter or email) and they tell me that my books made them or their child love reading it makes me so happy!  It makes all the rejections worth it!

What’s next for you?  Anything new that you’d like to try with your writing?
Every new story is scary for me because it’s the unknown.  My daughter and I have been working on a story for about five years.  We finally threw everything out and started a new story from the original idea.  It’s quite scary for me because it’s a true battle of good and evil and we share our faith.  It is with my agent at Writer’s House right now so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works out.  I wrote two books with oldest son, Nathan.  They were Slime Wars and Slime Time.  It would be very special if Becky and I could get a book published as well.

Debbie, thank you so much for your time and all of your fabulous books for kids.  I wish you all of the best with Mermaid Tales and can’t wait to see what you come up with next! 
Thanks so much for chatting with me.  It was great seeing you again and I’ll always remember my wonderful Naperville/Aurora area critique group!

You can visit Debbie at or stop by her Facebook fan page ( the latest news and happenings.