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Trick or Treat with Shannon Avra!

Welcome, readers, writers, and nightmare lovers, too! We have a seriously-spooktacular treat for you today. #KidLit Author Shannon Avra is on the blog sharing her and David Spencer's newly released picture book, Molly & Nightmare. When Molly wants a companion, she summons Nightmare - a big scary monster! Nightmare isn't sure what to think of Molly, who seems overjoyed to have a new friend. What kid actually wants a monster under their bed? The two, however, soon discover they've found the perfect friendship; one that lasts this life and even beyond. Want to know more about Shannon, her new book Molly & Nightmare, PLUS want a chance to win an awesome treat from her? Read on...

Q: Hi, Shannon! Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit. We’re thrilled to have you Trick or Treat with us and hear all about your new book Molly & Nightmare. It looks like a ton of fun! Before we get started, can you share a little about yourself and how you began writing for children?

A: Hi! Thank you so much for having me on this fun Trick or Treat adventure! I am an anthropologist, a writer, and a college instructor. I’m in my 23rd year of teaching Medical Anthropology and Women in Changing Society. I grew up in a household that made learning fun. Reading was encouraged and celebrated. Because I have health complications, books allowed me to do things that my body could not handle. In stories, I imagined running faster than the wind and jumping higher than the trees!

I write for children because there is magic in kindness and imagination. Picture books have a beautiful way of creating an impact in our minds and in our actions. There is permanence in love. And that is a message especially important for kids to understand because everything else in their world can rapidly change.

Q: What a fascinating background. Thanks for sharing!

In your book Molly & Nightmare, Molly is a little different from the other kids. She actually wants a monster under her bed. So, when she summons a monster named Nightmare, she finds a friendship that lasts a lifetime and beyond.

This seriously sounds like a neat concept. Plus, as an added bonus, your book touches on such important topics, like labels and grief.

What gave you the idea to write this story?

A: Thank you! When I was a kid, my imaginary friend was a shadow. Sometimes children are told something is scary when, truly, it might be AWESOME. Monsters and shadows aren’t always dangerous. Sometimes the scariest things in our lives are the things that are very real. Like loneliness and snapping turtles.

Molly and Nightmare share the same problem. They both feel isolated. They both need a friend. And they both must see beyond norms and labels. As I sifted through memories of my own imaginary friend and my real losses, Molly & Nightmare came to life. The monster, Fred, is based on a real Fred from my childhood!

Q: I love how you sifted through important memories and brought something you experienced, and something real and meaningful, to life in a kid-friendly way. That's definitely a tip #kidlit writers can keep in mind as they're working on MS ideas!

In your book, after Nightmare learns he cannot scare Molly, the two of them become friends. Nightmare even promises to protect Molly from things she’s actually afraid of, like loneliness and snapping turtles. How sweet! What do you hope children will relate to and love most in your book?

A: I hope children will love the relationship between Molly and Nightmare. Learning how to be a friend and how to protect that friendship for a lifetime is something I think kids will enjoy. Overcoming fear together is a main concept in the story. Moving through grief can feel scary. But we can choose to take the best of that relationship and share it with others.

Q: We absolutely adore the illustrations. How FUN was it to work with such a brilliant illustrator?

A: David Spencer was delightful and engaging. His illustrations are fantastic. Each page is full of life and movement and color.

We agree! Readers, check out this beautiful spread/artwork!

Q: What is one of your favorite things about Halloween?

A: Besides the cooler weather, I love the imagination that goes into Halloween costumes and treats. Bring on the glittery fairy wings and bat-shaped cupcakes, friendly monsters and no-so-chompy sharks!

Q: BONUS QUESTION: What candy pairs the best with your book?

A: With help from my best friend, Kelly, the candy that complements Molly & Nightmare is Reese’s peanut butter cups! The chocolate and peanut butter bring out the best in each other.

Too sweet. :)

Thanks again for joining us, Shannon! We can't wait to sink our teeth into Molly & Nightmare.

Readers, want to see #SeasonsOfKidLit's Peek-a-Boo Review for Shannon's book? Click here! You can also find our reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?

A: I would love to offer a picture book manuscript critique to one reader!

Thanks, Shannon, for such splendidly sweet treat!

Contest Details: To enter to win, this amazing giveaway make sure to 1) share this post on social media and 2) comment below and let us know why you can't wait to read Shannon's book!

#SeasonsOfKidLit's Trick-or-Treat Winners will be chosen on or about November 5th.

Note: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10)Rate Your Story Speed Passes, perfect for quick MS feedback, provided by Agent Mentee Lynne Marie & Author Heather Macht.

About Shannon Avra:

Shannon Avra grew up in a family that celebrated adventure, magic, and the power of books. With degrees in anthropology, she has enjoyed teaching for the last 23 years. When she’s not writing, Shannon spends her spare time hiking, reading, and baking chocolate chip cookies. Her husband and daughter wander through the woods and eat cookies with her. Grief has been prominent in Shannon’s life, but she’s grateful for every memory made. She hopes her books bring joy, healing, and kindness to her readers.

For more about Shannon, check out the below links:

Instagram: @shannonavrabooks

Twitter/X: @avranicole

For More about David Spencer, check out the below links:

Twitter/X: @mischieffactory

To purchase Shannon's book on Amazon, or to leave a review, click here.

To purchase Shannon's book from Simon & Schuster, click here.


A special thanks to David Rodriguez Lorenzo for the amazing custom-signatures!


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Thanks Shannon! I can't wait to read Molly and Nightmare! I love books that give a positive nod to imaginary friends and monsters under the bed. I think they are so important to SEL development. That may be a different approach to the way most think, but I think both can have a positive effect on the kids of today.


I love how you got the idea for this story from your childhood. It's such a neat concept and will indeed connect with kids.


Tonnye Fletcher
Tonnye Fletcher
Oct 19, 2023

I love this concept and the layers that you've built in, so I can't wait to read this book! Thanks for sharing, and Happy Halloween!


Thank you for the reminder to mind those childhood memories to find inspiration for our stories. This looks like a sweet monster friendship story!


Sharon Dalgleish
Sharon Dalgleish
Oct 13, 2023

I love that the monster's name is Fred. Too funny!

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