How do you pronounce your name?
Bock-kiss, like the god (Bacchus) or the composer (Johann Sebastian Bach…us).
What does the M. in “M. Molly Backes” stand for?
Monster. It’s a family name.
Is that your face on the cover of The Princesses of Iowa?
No, but thank you for thinking it might be!
Why does the cover have a picture of a wheat field on it? Shouldn’t that be corn?
Very observant! The official answer is that a) the cover designer lives on the East Coast and b) I didn’t notice until after the book came out, but I like to pretend that it’s c) the picture takes place after the book ends, when Paige crosses state lines to become the Duchess of Kansas.
Why did you decide to set your book in Iowa? Are you from there?
I grew up in Wisconsin, but I went to Grinnell College in Iowa. When I started writing The Princesses of Iowa, I was living in New Mexico and feeling homesick for the Midwest. So I started writing a story set in Iowa as a way to re-visit all the places I missed.
What inspired you to write The Princesses of Iowa?
I can’t point to one particular moment or thought that inspired the book — as I always tell my students, the subconscious mind is like a crockpot: you dump a lot of ingredients in, let it simmer for a while, and come back to find a meal (or sometimes, just a mess). I was teaching 7th and 8th grade English in rural New Mexico when I started the book, so the Princesses crockpot has a lot of middle school angst and thoughts about conformity, identity, and girlhood, as well as a healthy dose of homesickness for the Midwest.
Will there be a sequel?
Probably not, but you never know!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write, write, and read. Spend a lot of time being alone, being quiet, and learning to listen to your imagination.
Will you come to my school/festival/panel/dog parade?
I’m happy to visit schools, libraries, book clubs, and anywhere I might see a dog in a costume. To arrange an appearance, please contact my publicist.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on another young adult book set in the Midwest, this time with fewer princesses and Iowa jokes.
Do you really stop to pet every dog you see?
Whenever possible, I really do.