Nell Dare expected to spend her summer vacation hanging out with her friends in New York City. That is, until her botanist mom dragged her all the way to Roanoke Island for a research trip. To make matters worse, her father suddenly and mysteriously leaves town, leaving no explanation or clues as to where he went—or why.
While Nell misses the city—and her dad—a ton, it doesn’t take long for her to become enthralled with the mysteries of Roanoke and its lost colony. And when Nell meets Ambrose—an equally curious historical reenactor—they start exploring for clues as to what really happened to the lost colonists. As Nell and Ambrose’s discoveries of tantalizing evidence mount, mysterious things begin to happen—like artifacts disappearing. And someone—or something—is keeping watch over their quest for answers.
It looks like Nell will get the adventurous summer she was hoping for, and she will discover secrets not only about Roanoke, but about herself.
Can you tell us about your book, Summer of Lost and Found, in 40 words or less?
After she arrives on the island for the summer, Nell becomes enthralled with Roanoke’s mysteries. She and a local, Ambrose, discover tantalizing evidence about the Lost Colony. But someone—or something—is keeping watch over their search . . .
What was your favorite scene to write?
Oh, this is a tough question. I loved writing all the scenes where Nell is off exploring the island—because Roanoke’s a beautiful and fascinating place, and it was so fun to describe it. (Also, I did a lot of work on this book in the middle of a very cold Northeast winter, so I appreciated writing scenes set on an island in the summertime.) My favorite of those is probably the one where Nell gets lost in the woods. I love watching survival TV shows—even though the idea of being lost in the wilderness terrifies me. So it was a chance for me to imagine that experience from the safety of my writing desk.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
You know, I’m not sure I edited out an entire scene. I outline when I write, and I stuck pretty closely to my initial outline throughout all the rounds of revision. Many scenes changed dramatically from the first draft, though. I think I made the most changes to the chapters where Nell is on the water—they were hard to get right. I was revising those even on my hardcopy copy edits (tell my copy editor I’m sorry!).
Do you have a favorite quote?
This line is probably my favorite: Sometimes it’s the places we think we know the best that hold the most secrets: our streets, our backyards, and even our homes.
Summer of Lost and Found is a standalone. But because it blends past and present like my first novel, When Audrey Met Alice, I think they make a nice pair!
If you had to assign Summer of Lost and Found a theme song, what would you choose?
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” only because the truth of what happened to the Lost Colony remains a mystery today. J
Are you currently working on anything else?
I am! I’m working on another middle grade; it’s set in the summer of 1967 and also incorporates Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I can’t narrow it down to one book—so I’ll start with YA: Up to this Pointe is about ballet and Antarctica and how to live after Plan A doesn’t exactly work out, and the voice is so fantastic. Speaking of voice, I also loved More Happy Than Not, even if it broke my heart a little. If you love pirates and romance—I do—Blackhearts will not let you down. I’m so excited for the sequel. MGs I’ve read and loved are Ravenous and The Key to Extraordinary, which both have a lot of girl power. And My Diary from the Edge of the World is one of my favorite MG novels ever: creative and beautifully written, and I still think about the characters and their world, months after finishing it.