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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

The Backstory: MIGUEL MUST FIGHT!

Make way for our next Kidlit Clubhouse member! Today The Backstory welcomes Jamie Ofelia and her picture book, MIGUEL MUST FIGHT! with illustrations by Sara Palacios. Keep reading to learn how this wonderful story came to be and for your chance to win a manuscript critique from Jamie.



AH: Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind MIGUEL MUST FIGHT!


First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.


JO: Miguel is a boy who comes from a family of sword fighters, but wants to be an artist. Everyday, while his family is busy sparring, Miguel sneaks off to sketch. Everyone pressures Miguel to learn to fight: his family, the townsfolk, and even the mayor!

But fighting just isn’t Miguel’s style.


And when El Dragón lands in their little town, Miguel has one chance to defend his family and prove that his pencil is truly mightier than the sword!


AH: This sounds wonderful! I love Miguel's personality and how he isn't swayed by the opinions of the people around him.




AH: What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?


JO: The seed of this idea came from my observations of how creative kids are often misunderstood by the grown ups around them. We adults lament that these kids are “unfocused,” but if we paid closer attention, we’d see that these kids are focused! On very interesting, important, and beautiful things! We have a lot to learn from them.


AH: This is so true and I see it often in the classroom. First impressions and appearances are not always as they seem and, more often than not, if we get to know the child before judging them, we will be amazed by the wonderfully different strengths each child brings to the classroom.


How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now MIGUEL MUST FIGHT!? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?


JO: This idea grew quickly! I was really excited about it and happy to work on it non-stop for weeks (and then editing for months longer). Not all my stories form that way, so writing MIGUEL MUST FIGHT! was a special experience.


AH: That is such a special excitement when a project pulls at our attention and demands our every free moment.


Did MIGUEL MUST FIGHT! undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?


JO: I tinkered with this story a little bit everyday. The plot structure stayed the same, but I continually tweaked and polished it with help from my critique partners, agent, and editor. The whole process, from first to final draft, took about a year and a half.


AH: Are there any books/authors that you feel influenced your work on MIGUEL MUST FIGHT!?


JO: This is a great question! As I was writing this story, I did notice strong connections between it and two other books: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, and Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies by Megan and Jorge Lacera.


In all of these books, the main character doesn’t really change. They gently help the people around them understand their point of view. And their kindness wins the day.


AH: Love this and the two titles you mentioned. I appreciate how your story doesn't force the idea that the character needs to change, there is nothing wrong with him. I also like that instead of change, the focus is on perspective-taking.



Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?


JO: It’s funny, sometimes I feel lost for ideas and I get frantic and worry I’ve run out of ideas completely! Then I stop, take a breath, and remind myself what my latest obsession is. I always have some new topic that grabs me because I want to pursue a new hobby or cause in my real life. That’s usually where I’ll find my inspiration for stories.


AH: I am sure you are not the only author who has those moments of thinking the well of ideas has run dry. That is such great advice to let our current, personal interests guide our work.


Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?


JO: I don’t have any more upcoming books yet, but I’d love for you to check out Laekan Zea Kemp’s podcast, The Paper Trail. I was featured on about five episodes and you’ll get to know some truly amazing kidlit authors!


AH: Thank you for sharing! I always love a new podcast to add to the mix and there are wonderful creators involved with this one!



Where can people connect more with you?


JO: My Twitter handle is @JamieOfelia, my Insta is @JamieOfeliaWrites, and my author website is JamieOfelia.com!


AH: Readers be sure to connect with Jamie over on Instagram and Twitter to hear about her latest publishing news. While you are at it please consider supporting Jamie and MIGUEL MUST FIGHT! in any way you can.


This could include:


- ordering from your favorite indie


- marking as want to read on Goodreads  


-leaving a review


- making a library request


Jamie thank you so much for sharing all about MIGUEL MUST FIGHT! I loved learning the inside scoop on how this book came to be and I can't wait to pick up my copy on April 30th when it releases!

 

GIVEAWAY!


Jamie is offering a picture book manuscript critique to one winner.


Ways to enter:

1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!

or

2. Leave a comment on this post.

or

3. Post about this interview on social media and tell me in the comments that you did.


Each method earns an extra entry!

 

ABOUT JAMIE OFELIA


Jamie Ofelia is the author of the humorous and heartfelt picture book MIGUEL MUST FIGHT!, which is slated for publication with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 30th, 2024. As a biracial Latina, Jamie writes fiction and nonfiction stories so Latinx kids can see themselves reflected as heroes in mainstream children's literature. She holds her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and is currently a stay-at-home mom living in Dallas, where she spends her days reading diverse picture books with her son. When her son gets bored, she continues reading diverse picture books all by herself.


 

ABOUT ANDREW HACKET


Andrew Hacket  is a writer, second-grade teacher, and father of three. He is also the author of the upcoming Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea,  Curlilocks and the Three Hares, and Hope and the Sea. Andrew recognizes that being a kid is hard and he writes to create ways for kids to see themselves in stories and characters, to accept and overcome their insecurities, or to escape for just a little while through the power of their imaginations. 

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5 Comments


Thelia Hutchinson
Thelia Hutchinson
Mar 14

Thank you for sharing, Jamie. Congratulations on your book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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KatieLeeReinert
Mar 14

Sounds like a super cute book! Can't wait to read it!

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Laura Roettiger
Laura Roettiger
Mar 14

I immediately thought of Ferdinand when I started reading your description. I'm glad you mentioned the connection. It's such a wonderful classic, I look forward to reading Miguel Must Fight.

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seschipper
Mar 14

Congratulations, Jamie and Sara! Looking forward to reading! MIGUEL MUST FIGHT !😊

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Stephanie Wildman
Stephanie Wildman
Mar 13

I love the story of Ferdinand, so I cannot wait to get this book - congrats Jamie and Sara and thank you Andrew for sharing another amazing book!

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