December 9, 2020: This Week We're Wild About... Wen Jane Baragrey

Our next author's book missive has been sent to us all straight from Australia! Her middle grade novel, What Goes Up, is a fantastical story about a girl (perhaps fairy…) who constantly attracts trouble and is therefore expecting the satellite that is expected to crash into earth to hit her house like a bullseye. In this interview, Wen Jane Baragrey writes about creating art during the pandemic, how reading feeds our imagination and hearts, and offers hope from her corner of the world, of a life after lockdowns (can you imagine that?!)

- Natalie McCall (Head of Youth Services)

Wen Jane BaragreyWhat's the title of your upcoming book?

What Goes Up

What book should readers go to for an escape from reality?

My favorite book for the past few years has been The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. It's a world I love returning to and imagining myself as part of Luna's story.

What book should readers go to when they want to face reality?

The 10 pm Question by Kate DeGoldi. This is one of my all-time favorite books and it's by a New Zealand author. Frankie is the most relatable character and seeing through his eyes is an experience we can all benefit from.

What was your reading life like before the pandemic?

Quite similar! I listen to audiobooks a lot, especially when cleaning, cooking, doing art, or before I fall asleep. Those were things that I spent a lot of time doing before and during the pandemic.

What has your reading life been like since the pandemic?

Busy! I'm an artist as well as an author. During the pandemic, I've found it a lot easier to concentrate on art than writing, so, I've listened to a lot of audiobooks while drawing. That has been wonderful escapism, and my library's audiobook collection has kept me going!

Why should people read for pleasure? Is that any different now?

A book allows us the opportunity to build unique worlds inside our heads. Reading feeds our imaginations and grows ours hearts. I think that's tremendously important for all of us and for our futures.

What do you hope your book gives to readers?

What Goes Up Book CoverFor 2020 especially - escapism. I think we all need another world to escape to at times, and whenever I write anything, it's usually an escape for me, and I hope it is for my readers too. My book's main character, Robyn, has a huge imagination and way more determination than is healthy, sometimes! Reading characters like her helped me find those things in myself when I was growing up, so I hope some of my readers manage to find something of themselves in Robyn, too.

Should book lovers worry about the future of publishing during the pandemic? If so, how can they help?

What I am hoping for the last months of 2020 is having a little less to worry about. Here, in Australia, the pandemic is under control (for now) and aside from wearing masks, our lives are returning to normal. I say that to offer hope that things really can be the same again, because during those months and months of lockdown, I wondered if that would ever be possible. So, I want you to know that they can! Meanwhile, publishing and books will continue so long as we all need them and support them. Read, share, join in online events, and talk to others who love books! Don't be afraid to send an email or message to your favorite authors, too! We love to hear from our readers and it can honestly be the inspiration we need to sit down and get typing!

If you could imagine your dream virtual library, what would it be like?

OOooh! Something that could recreate the sounds and cosiness of a real library with an endless catalogue of books to lose myself in! I have made great use of my libraries audiobook and ebook collection during the pandemic and I could browse the catalogues for hours trying to decide which books to check out next!

Where can readers find you online? is my personal website, but I seem to spend most (way too much!) time on Twitter these days :) @wenbaragrey

Do you have a favorite bookstore? Where would you like readers to buy your book? (We also have it at the Library, of course!)

I'm going to pick Boulder Bookstore because I know my agent shops there! We moved here to Australia from New Zealand right before the pandemic shut everything down, so I've only had the chance to shop online since the pandemic began. I've yet to discover a favorite bookstore. I'm searching now, though!