Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. After retiring from her “real” job as an administrative assistant for the State of Michigan, Rita began doing what she always wanted to do…write and paint. Five long years later, Musa Publishing offered her a contract for her debut middle grade novel, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, which also includes her artwork. Her stories are set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. Rita now lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee.
Rita keeps a great blog, TALES FROM THE BAYOU
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Moving is nothing new for ten-year-old Nikki Landry. Her fisherman father relocates their raggedy old houseboat several times a year in search of better crabbing spots. However, their latest move has brought her to a mysterious bayou where she feels something is watching her from a nearby island.
Nikki learns of a local legend about something sinister inhabiting those swamps, stealing the souls of dogs…which would explain the strange howling sounds. Papa reassures her there’s nothing on the island but gators and snakes. He would know. He’s spent his whole life trapping and fishing those bayous and swamps. But Nikki and her new friends uncover strange happenings from years ago that may have started the old legend, and town folks aren’t talking. Then her beloved beagle goes missing.
Join Nikki as she seeks to discover the real truth behind the legend of Ghost Dog Island…before it’s too late.
You can find the LEGEND OF GHOST DOG ISLAND at Musa Publishing:
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your middle grade book: LEGEND OF GHOST DOG ISLAND?
The Legend of Ghost Dog Island is about a young girl whose father is a “swamper.” Nikki’s lifestyle of moving from bayou to bayou in their ragged family houseboat and having to make new friends and start a new school several times a year has made her pretty tough. She’s up for most any type of challenge, especially when her beloved dog, her best friend, goes missing.
Besides the main plot of discovering the mystery on the swamp island, Nikki faces many obstacles that are common, even if in a different place and time, to most kids. She faces the consequence of being dishonest. She faces being bullied. She learns about the ups and downs of friendships, and what it takes to be a true friend. She learns to understand and respect her father’s and mother’s struggles. But I think most of all, she learns that no matter what you hear or see, you should always seek the truth.
2. How did your childhood experiences play a part in your book?
This book is historical in nature. It is based on my childhood, except I wasn’t as brave as the character that represents me. Nikki is much tougher, braver, and more adventurous. Therefore, the many predicaments she encounters are a work of fiction.
3. You keep a wonderful blog, TALES FROM THE BAYOU. Can you share a little bit about your blog? What is one of the most interesting posts you’ve written?
On my blog, I try to bring in a fellow writer on Sunday (Sunday dinner on the Bayou) where a visitor can learn about a new book and pick up a delicious recipe at the same time. Wednesdays are my Louisiana Tidbit days, where I post interesting facts about my home state, usually tied to my book in some way. The most interesting and the most visited post I did was about the bottle trees. (You can read that post here)
That was a couple of years ago, and I still get several visits a day on that one. I learn so much doing research for these posts, such as the water moccasin, Spanish moss, and my latest, the nutria rat. All these are mentioned in my book as well.
4. What did you find the most challenging about writing THE LEGEND OF GHOST DOG ISLAND?
The most challenging was keeping the suspense going. I could tell the story of my childhood, but that was sort of boring. I had the keep the characters on their toes, and move the story forward.
5. What words of advice do you have for teen writers?
Think like a kid and you will find your voice.