Author Spotlight: The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall (Interview)

Hey everyone! I’m really excited to have Shelley Pearsall, author of The Seventh Most Important Thing (September 8th 2015, Knopf Books for Young Readers), here for an interview. First, here’s more about the book:

Most important thing It was a bitterly cold day when Arthur T. Owens grabbed a brick and hurled it at the trash picker. Arthur had his reasons, and the brick hit the Junk Man in the arm, not the head. But none of that matters to the judge—he is ready to send Arthur to juvie for the foreseeable future. Amazingly, it’s the Junk Man himself who offers an alternative: 120 hours of community service . . . working for him.

Arthur is given a rickety shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, lightbulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors. He can’t believe it—is he really supposed to rummage through people’s trash? But it isn’t long before Arthur realizes there’s more to the Junk Man than meets the eye, and the “trash” he’s collecting is being transformed into something more precious than anyone could imagine. . . .

Inspired by the work of American folk artist James Hampton.

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And now here’s the interview! Enjoy!

Question: Congratulations! Your novel, The Seventh Most Important Thing, will be out in the world soon! Have the last few months been crazy with last-minute prep, or is this the “calm before the storm” for you?
Answer: It is always a long wait for a new book to be published. To keep from going completely crazy, I usually start on another book project, so I’m about a hundred pages into writing a new novel right now.

Question: The Seventh Most Important Thing deals with the loss of a parent and what it means for those left behind, especially for a young child. It also deals with the idea that good things can come from dark, sad situations. What inspired you to write about these things? What do you hope your readers will take away from it?
Answer: The inspiration for this novel came from several different places—a work of art that I saw back in college, a middle school student I met at a writing workshop who was having a hard time dealing with grief, and some of my own experiences with loss. I hope readers take away the importance of looking beneath the surface—don’t judge someone before you know his or her story, in other words. I also hope they see the power of art to help us understand and express our feelings.

Question: Can you explain the significance of the title and cover (which I love!) without spoilers? Maybe just a hint?
Answer: Arthur Owens, the main character in the story, must collect seven “important things” to fulfill his sentence for committing a crime, so the title was inspired by that idea. The jacket illustrates at least two of those seven things…but that’s all I can tell you!

Question: Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a WIP?
Answer: Flip-flops, the word “dude,” TV dinners, baseball schedules for the Washington Senators (a 60’s expansion team in D.C.), candy bar varieties…

Question: Any fun plans for release day? What do you think you’ll do the first time you see your book in stores?
Answer: I always go out for a dinner with my family on the release day to celebrate. A week later, I have a bigger party, called a “launch party,” at a local library to celebrate with readers and friends—there is usually a cake, free giveaways, and a short talk (by me). Mostly, the party is a great way to thank everyone involved in the book journey. Seeing my book in stores is always a little scary—kind of like seeing someone you know, when you aren’t expecting it, and suddenly you can’t think of what to say or do!


ShelleyAbout the Author: 
A former teacher and museum historian, SHELLEY PEARSALL is now a full-time writer. Her first novel, Trouble Don’t Last, won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.


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One thought on “Author Spotlight: The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall (Interview)

  1. I loved reading your book Ms. Pearsall, and the seventh graders I am teaching are enjoying reading it too.
    Could you please share with me, the importance/ significance of finding foil in the process of Arthur’s transformation?
    What is foil symbolic of?
    We’ve discussed this a great deal, and come up with interesting theories, but I would like to know from you please…

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