MMGM: Selling Hope, and interview with author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

I'm so pleased to welcome here today Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, author of the delightful Selling Hope. Hope is the daughter/lovely assistant of a quirky vaudeville magician in 1910 (quirky, as in quotes Frost and Thoreau during his act). Besides having a totally awesome name ;), Hope is one of those hard-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside characters that I can't help loving, and the story of how the coming of Halley's comet impacted her life is everything a middle grade book should be: funny, sweet, suspenseful and brimming with difficult decisions. But I'll let you learn more through Kristin's answers! 

Welcome, Kristin!
What are some qualities that you share with your main character, Hope? In what ways are you most different?

Hope hears these old, hokey vaudeville jokes in her head throughout the story. While I don’t exactly do that (thank goodness), I do use humor to combat adversity, like Hope. But Hope makes some very questionable decisions that I’d like to think I’d never make. When she decides to run a hoax and cash in on others’ fear of the fast-approaching Halley’s Comet, she makes a series of choices that I don’t think are smart or even fair. But she’s also way more street-savvy than I am, and her capacity to forgive outshines mine (unfortunately).

If you had a Vaudeville act, what would it be?

I know for sure what it wouldn’t be – singing! Eesh, I’m horrible. I think I’d like to have an act like Winsor McKay’s, the illustrator best known for the original version of “Little Nemo.” He was a storyteller, and while he spun yarns, he would illustrate his stories on stage. It was the precursor to modern-day animation, and I’d love to see it and try it! (Watch a video about Winsor McKay here.)

What was the strangest topic or question you ever had to research?

Oh, so many! I’ve researched what a tuba sounds like underwater, how to properly eat a 
crawfish, and how to pilot a hot-air balloon (all for THE 13TH SIGN). For SELLING HOPE, I researched how a knife-throwing act works, how to pick a lock, and how quickly Halley’s Comet travels through the universe. I adore research, though, so thankfully, when I find something that needs investigating, I happily dig in!

What was the most interesting fact you discovered in research that you weren't able to use in the story?

SELLING HOPE takes place in 1910, a year when Halley’s Comet was highly visible from Earth. Mark Twain, who was as famous during his life as he is now, said in 1909, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.” And sure enough, in April of 1910, he died. I tried cramming that interesting tidbit into every nook and cranny of SELLING HOPE, but it just never seemed to fit.

When you were thirteen, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer! But I always thought that a writer was a writer + another thing. (I suppose that was my parents’ way of promoting job security! ) My older sister was (and still is) in advertising, and I thought that sounded nifty. At one point I wanted to be a veterinarian, but then I found out what they have to do for sick animals. And when I started out in college, I was in aerospace engineering (I am fascinated with space). But everything I’ve ever done, job-wise, had something to do with writing. Once I figured that out (and it took me far past the age of 13 to do so), I focused on what I love to do.

What do you love most, and hate most, about being a writer?
Love most = the readers! I am a firm believer that a story comes to life in the hands of a reader, and when someone contacts me with their thoughts/feelings/emotions on a story I wrote, it is feeling of human connection that is both rare and sweet.
Hate most = self-promotion. But I do it, because, well, see above! 

Can you tell us a little bit about you new book?
I’d love to – thank you! THE 13TH SIGN is also middle grade, but it’s my debut fantasy. It’s available for preorder now, and releases January 8. Here’s the jacket copy:

What if there was a 13th zodiac sign? 

You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign. 

Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s. 

What about the rest of the world? 

What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change, and infuriating the other 12 signs?  

Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend upon it.
Faith, thank you for inviting me to be a part of your blog! I really enjoyed it.

Thank you for joining us, Kristin! It's been a treat, and we look forward to reading your new book!

To learn more about Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays and see the full list of this week's participating blogs, visit the site of the mastermind behind it all: Shannon Messenger

P.S. This post is being pre-scheduled since I'm almost definitely going to be without power here in CT for a few days after Sandy hits. I apologize if it takes me an inordinate amount of time to reply to comments...and please keep us in your prayers! 


  1. Kristin's novels sound so so great! I'm definitely going to read them. Thanks for sharing such a terrific interview!

    My posts are pre-scheduled this week, too, just in case the Philadelphia area loses power. My fingers are crossed that it won't be as bad as they're predicting!! So far it seems like a normal storm, just some wind and rain, but Sandy is supposed to be dropping by tonight. We'll see. Hope you stay safe and dry, Faith!

  2. You highlight some of the best books and authors, Faith! Vaudeville and Halley's comet drew me right in. I wonder if Kristin can throw a knife ... what a great way to get attention!

    Stay safe all of you on the NE. We are praying for you.

  3. The cover of this b ook is excellent! I love the unique storyline. I have always been fascinated by space- so this sounds like a book I would enjoy. I really liked hearing from the author. The quote from Mark Twain is awesome! Thanks for sharing.

    Stay safe in the storm! I am in CT, too. So far we still have power- but I know many people are without it already.

  4. Both these books sound very intresting. Thanks for highlighting them and I enjoyed the interveiw!

    Wishing you a safe and dry week!

  5. Ooh, this book sounds fantastic. And I love the tidbit about Mark Twain and Hailey's comet. I loooove the cover too. Stay safe during Sandy, my friend : )

  6. Thanks for another awesome interview! The cover of Selling Hope is enough to draw me in even without all the interesting comments by the author.

    Good luck weathering the storm!

  7. Awesome interview. Prayers for safety and a soon restoration of power.


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