Thursday, April 18, 2013

Home Sweet Rome Blog Tour: Interview with Author Marissa Moss

Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome
By Marissa Moss
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date:  April 2, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4022-6609-6 
Ages 9-12

Praise for the Mira’s Diary series
An engrossing, diary-style blend of history, mystery, and time travel.” —Publishers Weekly
“With vividly detailed descriptions, Moss deftly recounts Mira’s journey among the backdrop of historical events and people. Moss’ thought-provoking tale…will leave readers anticipating Mira’s next mission as she follows her mother through time and history.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The author deftly weaves the lives of famous painters… into a fine, gripping tale.”
San Francisco Book Review
Fast paced and compelling.” — Newbery Medal Winner and New York Times bestselling author Karen Cushman
The fate of the past—and the future—rests in her hands.
In Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome our favorite time travelling 13-year-old is back, and her next stop is 16th century Rome.   

Written like a journal and illustrated with sketches, notes, and memorabilia such as postcards and ticket stubs, in Mira’s Diary: Home Sweet Rome, Marissa’s fun and engaging illustrations accompany a text rich with historical details and characters.  Full of action, mystery, the sketchbook novel will thrill middle grade readers, while giving them a glimpse into a fascinating and tumultuous era.

Mira was prepared to travel the world to find her mother—but she never expected that she’d have to travel through time as well. When Mira’s search transports her to 16th century Rome, she befriends the famed painter Caravaggio and falls into his group of scientists and fellow artists. But Mira quickly realizes this is no place for forward thinkers and is soon faced with protecting her new friends from the evil Madame Lefoutre. Mira’s outmatched 5,000 miles (and 500 years) from home, but she’ll have to succeed if she ever hopes to be reunited with her mother.

Interview with Marissa Moss

His Marissa, thank you so much for stopping by today.  It’s great to have you. 
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I sent my first books to publishers when I was 9, but it wasn't very good and, of course, it didn't get published.  I didn't try again until I was a grown-up, but I kept on telling myself stories and drawing pictures to go with them.  In fact, the first Amelia's Notebook was based on my journals.  It took me five years of sending in stories, getting them rejected, revising them, getting them rejected again, revising them again. . . and again. . .and again until I got my first book accepted.  I'm a very stubborn person!

Where did you get your idea for Mira’s Diary:  Home Sweet Rome?
I wanted to write about Caravaggio because he's such an intriguing character and I love his paintings.  Once I was in that time period, the Inquisition, papal politics, a burning at the stake or two, were all bound to come up.

Can you tell us a little bit about Mira?
Mira is the girl I wanted to be -- adventurous, curious, loyal.  I was a shy bookworm in reality, brave only in my stories.

When writing, have you ever felt as if you were one of the characters?
I always do!  Even when I'm writing about somebody completely different from me, like Kenichi Zenimura, the hero of my new picture book, Barbed Wire Baseball.  I'm not a Japanese-American who was interned during WWII, but when I was working on the story, I put myself inside my main character so I could be true to him and his story.

 Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've always told stories and drawn pictures to go with them, from when I was very young.  Stories always seemed magical to me, more real than reality, more true somehow.  I think we're all constantly framing stories -- about our day, our family, our pasts, our hopes and fears for the future.  It's a deeply human thing to do, to shape our experience into a compelling story.

What types of books do you normally like to read?
I read very widely.  For pleasure, mostly YA and middle-grade, though some adult fiction as well.  For research, a huge amount of history and literature of the time period I'm studying.  Right now that's 1917, so a rich time for books.

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?
I swim with a masters team most mornings, and that's when I get a lot of my best ideas.  There's something about moving through water that frees up elemental parts of you and ideas burble up from deep down.  I keep a notebook and pen in my swim jacket so I can jump out of the pool and write ideas down because they can be so ephemeral.  You think you'll remember them, but if you don't write them down, they can be gone in a flash.
What are your current projects?
I'm working on the third Mira's Diary right now.  She's in London during WWI, meeting some fascinating people, but I'm at that terrifying point when I'm not sure if I have a book or simply a pile of pages.  We'll see. . .
This or That:

E-books or print copies?
Print, print, print!  I don't think I process words on a screen the same way.  It's as if they're more forgettable because you think you can always retrieve them.

Facebook or Twitter?
I do both, but have more fun with Facebook.  It's easier for me to put up images and links on it. 

Coffee, tea, or Coke?
Coffee, no question, can't start the day without it. 

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
Dark chocolate -- preferably with a strong cup of coffee!

Theater or DVD?
It's embarrassing to admit, but I love watching movies at home, snuggled up in bed with my husband.  Going to a movie theater isn't half as cozy.

Beach or Mountains?
Tough call -- I love them both.  And since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I feel close to both of them.

Thank you again for stopping by Marissa.  It was great talking to you.   

Marissa Moss has published over 50 children’s books and her illustrated Amelia series sold more than 2 million copies. Although she hopes to visit all the wonders of the world, right now she lives in the San Francisco Bay area where she can appreciate the Golden Gate Bridge from her window. Visit her



  1. It is funny how some authors write their characters with traits that they wish they had or ones that are the complete opposite of them.
    Great interview!

  2. Oh, what a great interview! I love that the author started writing at such a young age. Thank you for sharing!


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