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Trick or Treat with Stephanie Campisi!

Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, readers! I'm excited the multi-published and incredibly talented Stephanie Campisi is with us today, sharing her new book, Quacks Like a Duck (illustrated by Maria Lebedeva). This adorable book features Petunia, a platypus, as she arrives to a costume party without a costume. How will the other partygoers feel? Will she be able to fit in and make friends? Want to know more about Stephanie, Petunia, and the fun costume party that's in store? Read on...

Q: Hi, Steph. Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I’m excited you could join and talk about your new book, Quacks Like a Duck. First, can you share a little about yourself and about how you became a KidLit author?

A: Yes, absolutely! I'm an Australian author currently based in eastern Tennessee. (Yes, I have a funny accent.) I've been in the US since 2014, and have moved all over since - it turns out I'm a perpetually unsettled person, which perhaps makes sense for an author! In terms of my background, my degree is in linguistics, and I'm a copywriter by trade, although I did do my time in the trenches for a couple of journals and educational publishers. The pros of being a copywriter: you're great at coming up with catchy titles, a legend at meeting tight deadlines, and the slitheriest of duck's backs when it comes to taking feedback. I'll cheerfully rewrite a whole book if that's what it'll take! Come at me, red pen!

I think there are a few different ways that people come to kidlit, but for me it was almost like I was looking for an antidote to everything going on in the world around me. I wrote my first MG as pure escapism, and loved every second of it. Since then I think I've written for just about every age group, and I relish the challenge each time! While my books run the gamut of very silly to quite serious realism, there's something about the lens of the child's eye that calls to me. It focuses and magnifies in a different way from an adult eye, and there's an emotion to it that I think is uniquely raw. And you're encouraged to write terrible jokes! What's not to love?

Q: Quacks Like a Duck, about Petunia the Platypus, recently received a rave review from Kirkus calling it “A positively peachy tale.” Can you tell us more about Petunia and her journey in Quacks Like a Duck?

A: Ah yes, dear Petunia! Quacks Like a Duck is about a platypus who is newly arrived in the US, and who is ready to attend her very first party! Alas, it's a costume party - Petunia neglected to read that bit of the invitation - and everyone is dressed up except for our poor protagonist. The other animals gather around Petunia trying to figure out what on earth she is meant to be - let alone the pavlova she has brought for their dessert table. But when a duck-otter-beaver trio show up dressed as a platypus, Petunia starts to feel a little less weird, and a little more accepted.

Quacks features the most vibrant, delightful art from South African illustrator Maria Lebedeva, and it's such a fun, sunny experience! I'm very happy with how it's turned out. (Shout-out to my editor for very thoughtfully considering just how many ears Vincent Van Goat should have.)

Q: What inspired you to write this fun and original tale?

A: Well, being a fairly new transplant to the US, I've had my share of awkward fish-out-of-water moments. Quacks definitely channels the experience of my very first US Thanksgiving party - a thoroughly rando event with a cobbled-together guest list held at some mansion on the outskirts of Portland, OR. Thanksgiving obviously isn't celebrated in Australia, but I felt like I should leave the house and be social and eat some pecan pie and marvel at the fact that Americans put marshmallows on sweet potatoes (you do know that's extremely odd, right?) Anyway, it was actually quite a fun and lovely event, but I had a few moments where I felt completely confused and lost - especially the one where someone tried to explain American football to me. Sorry, mate, I will never understand.

Anyway, that feeling of mild but generally benevolent alienation turned into Quacks Like a Duck! I think I started with the title - I usually do - and then Petunia appeared fairly quickly after that. I actually wrote the draft straight through, and when the duck-beaver-otter "platypus" showed up it all came together. Good job, brain! I tweaked the ending over several drafts, but overall, the manuscript is fairly close to the original. Very efficient when that happens!

Q: What makes Quacks Like a Duck the perfect fall, or anytime, read?

A: If you're after a distinctly un-scary Halloween read, Quacks is it! It features a menagerie of animals dressed up in delightfully ridiculous costumes - a beetle as Ringo Starr, an armadillo knight, and a chameleon disco diva, just to name a few - along with lots of delicious food! Fun fact: the pavlova Petunia brings to the party is a very popular holiday dessert in Australia and New Zealand (we've been vying over where it originated for some time now), while fairy bread is a staple of kids' birthday parties back home. White bread, margarine, sprinkles. Cut that beauty into triangles, and you've got a winner.

Quacks is a fun read for Halloween, birthdays, those Aussie animal units in class, and if you're looking for a read to help someone feel a little less alone out there. Quacks is all about finding your people (or your animals, I suppose) wherever you go - even if that's in costume and on the other side of the world!

Q: What costume will Petunia wear to her next shindig…like a Halloween party, for example? ;)

You know, I think Petunia would make a rather lovely duck! Way to come full circle, Petunia! (And let's not jinx it, but I might be toying with an equally ridiculous story idea involving another oft-mistaken Aussie animal :) Watch this space!)

Thanks for sharing such a sweet message with us, Stephanie! We can't wait to read Quacks Like a Duck!

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

A: Happy to provide a copy of Quacks to a reader as a “treat”!

What a fun treat! Thanks so much!

Contest Details: To enter to win a copy of Quacks Like a Duck, leave a comment below and let Stephanie know can't wait to check her new book! The winner will be announced on or about November 4th.

*Note: Giveaways will be shipped in the US only.

About Stephanie Campisi:

Stephanie Campisi is an Australian-born children's book author currently based in eastern Tennessee. Her books to date include Luis and Tabitha, Very Lulu, Five Sisters, Axolotls: Day to ZZZ and Quacks Like a Duck...with lots more to come over the coming years! When not writing books (and ads) she spends her days wrangling her rambunctious toddler, and her even more rambunctious Jack Russell Terrier. She would also like to inform Americans that there are just as many creepy crawlies here in the US as in Australia, and that on the whole Aussie animals are very fuzzy and smiley! Google them, and you'll see.

For more about Stephanie, check out the below links:

Instagram: @stephcampisi

To purchase Stephanie's books on Amazon, or to leave a review, click here.


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