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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic?


Today I’m very excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Tracy Tam: Santa Command by Krystalyn Drown – a MG adventure that combines science and fantasy in a thoroughly satisfying way. Krystalyn is a long-time critique partner of mine, and I am thrilled about her MG debut. First, the book blurb:

Tracy doesn’t believe that Santa can deliver all of those presents in one night with out a little help from science. A flying sleigh can only be powered by jet engines, and Santa’s magical abilities can only be the result of altered DNA. In order to test her theories, she sneaks onto Santa’s sleigh and ends up at Santa Command, the place where a team of humans monitors Santa’s big night. When Tracy attempts to hack into their computers, she accidentally introduces a virus to their system. As a result, three states get knocked out of sync with the rest of the world. Before the night is over, Tracy has to fix time and help Santa finish his deliveries. And she has to do it all with Santa’s magic, which she doesn’t believe exists.

1. Krystalyn, I’ll never forget when you sent me the first few pages of Tracy Tam in their first draft form. I was immediately hooked, and when I shared your opening with my fifth grade students, they were hooked, too. Tell me, what inspired the story?

I had a dream that I can’t quite remember, but it involved all of the holiday characters like Santa and the Easter Bunny. I wondered what it would be like if all of the characters were drones controlled by someone in a command center. The first chapter of Tracy Tam emerged from that idea.

TracyTam2. Speaking of that first page, you and I discussed at length the issue of starting a MG book with a scene from an adult’s perspective. That’s supposed to be one of the industry No-Nos, but as I mentioned above, this scene was a unique hook for your story. When you actually worked with an editor at Month9Books, did this issue come up?

Before I signed with them, they discussed with me some of the changes they wanted to make. Thankfully, the first scene was never put on the chopping block. There was one scene later on that was shifted to Tracy’s point of view, which wasn’t an issue, but for the most part, all of Phil’s  scenes were kept intact. He even got an extra chapter in editing that I didn’t initially plan. And even though Phil is an adult, he’s a fantastical character himself. What person wouldn’t want a front row seat for Santa’s big night?

3. Tell us about your writing style.

I need to know the major plot points, but beyond that, I have a hard time plotting. I write from point to point, and allow the characters to show me what they’re made of. Then, when I’m about half way through and really know the characters, I end up starting over. My first drafts take forever to write, but the editing is much easier.

4. Talk a little bit about Tracy herself.

She’s a ten year old girl on a mission. She’s smart and ambitious and is used to getting what she wants. However, she doesn’t realize that sometimes too much ambition can lead to trouble, like crashing computers or the stopping of time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. I know you were surprised to see Tracy Tam: Santa Command highlighted as a book promoting diversity, since Tracy’s ethnicity has no bearing on the story. How important is it, do you think, to have multi-racial protagonists appear regularly in books even when (maybe especially when) race is a non-issue in the plot?

I think it’s important because readers of every race and color need to be able to find books where they can say, “That could be me. I could do that.” When Tracy first popped into my mind, she was Chinese American. It was never a conscious decision to make her a certain ethnicity. That’s just who she was.

6. Were there any characters who surprised you when you were writing this book – characters who diverted from your original plan or changed the way you viewed the story?

I’m pretty sure you already know the answer to this question. (Yes, I did. That’s why I asked!) I mentioned in one scene that a character had a son. You asked to meet the son, and he became Jared. He went from a character that didn’t really exist to a POV character. What’s more, he became almost a yin to Tracy’s yang. They both have very differing views of magic, and they must come together if they want to save the day.

7. What else would you like to tell us about Tracy Tam: Santa Command?

This is my favorite book that I’ve written. I’ve always been fascinated by magic, and by writing this book, I got to play with magic and hopefully create a little as well.


I’m excited about Krystalyn’s release can’t wait to see what’s next for Tracy. (Spoiler alert: This book might not be the last we see of Tracy!) Want to do a little early Christmas shopping for MG readers on your list? You can find Tracy Tam: Santa Command at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | TBD | IndieBound | iBooks

Month9Books is giving away 5 digital copies. Enter the giveaway below.

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15 Responses to Do You Believe in Magic?

  1. Congratulations, Krystalyn!
    I didn’t realize one wasn’t supposed to write middle grade from an adult view. Glad you were able to keep that opening scene.

  2. mshatch says:

    Congrats, Krystalyn! What an awesome cover!

  3. *high five* Story dreams are THE BEST. I always get excited when I meet another story dreamer. We’re a rare and AWESOME breed. Huge congrats, Krystalyn.

  4. Fun interview, and this sounds like a super fun story. Just in time for the holidays, too. Good to meet you, Krystalyn! 🙂

  5. I’ve seen this cover several times on the Month9 site(I love them!) and it’s so fun. And would be a perfect holiday gift! Great interview, and I wish Krystalyn and Santa Command tons of success!

  6. I enjoyed the interview. Sounds like a great book. Awesome book cover.

  7. Tiana Smith says:

    Sounds like a fun read, and such a neat cover 🙂

  8. Lexa Cain says:

    This is completely adorable! What a great Christmas book, and I love that it promotes diversity. Congrats to Krystalyn!

  9. Hi, Dianne,

    Thanks for featuring Krystalyn…

    This sounds like such a FUN premise and I am so looking forward to reading it. CONGRATS Krystalyn! All the best with your debut book!

  10. That’s one of the most interesting takes on the Santa problem I’ve ever heard of. Very cool that someone took that and made it into a story. ^_^

  11. E.Arroyo says:

    Sounds awesome! And I think it’s great that you have a diverse character just because! Congrats!

  12. Johanna says:

    Congratulations Krystalyn! Sounds like a unique take on a childhood myth…and I just happen to have a middle grade reader who needs to have his Christmas list filled. 🙂

  13. Cynthia says:

    Congratulations, Krystalyn, on your new book! It hadn’t occurred to me that holiday characters are programmed to do their jobs. What a neat idea!

    Dianne, from your earlier blog post, I hope you are feeling better from your sinus infection. I know how irritating those could be…You know, I was just talking to a friend about Game of Thrones. I haven’t seen the series or read the books, even though I want to. My friend warned me not to get too attached to any character though, should I venture into this story.

  14. Dixie says:

    What a super exciting story – gosh I’m hooked too.

  15. Terrific interview, ladies! This sounds like the perfect book to give a young reader for Christmas. (And gee, if we purchase it early enough, we can read it before we give it away… HA!)