Q&A- A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean Secrets Of Topsea Blog Tour #DisneyBooks

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Q&A- A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean Secrets Of Topsea – Let’s Chat With The Authors


Recently I was invited to be a part of the Disney Hyperion A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean Blog Tour. Of course I was beyond thrilled and honored to be included. There is nothing that my family loves more than reading. Our house is loaded with books of all types. I am only being introduced to the many titles of the Disney Hyperion Young Adult books. So far I am have been in awe of their line up, along with my tween daughter. So when we were invited to chat with the two authors of A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean, Kir Fox and M. Shelley Coats we seriously could not wait. Questions swirled around in my head as I read the book and of course my tween daughter had  one or two of her own. The interview is below. Hope you enjoy! www.welcometotopsea.com



This is an interview between Diane Sullivan  and Kir Fox (Kirsten Hubbard) and M. Shelley Coats (Michelle Schusterman).

Diane: Hi! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Kir Fox (Kirsten Hubbard) and M. Shelley Coats (Michelle Schusterman) are great friends, longtime critique partners, and ardent consumers of the strange and unusual. Kirsten is the author of the middle-grade novels, Watch the Sky and Race the Night (Disney-Hyperion), and the young adult novels, Like Mandarin and Wanderlove (Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books). She lives in Los Angeles. Michelle is the author of the middle grade series I Heart Band and The Kat Sinclair Files (Grosset/Penguin), as well as Olive and the Backstage Ghost and Spell & Spindle (Random House Children’s Books), and The Pros of Cons (Scholastic). She lives in New York City.

Diane: What was your inspiration for this book?

We were both obsessed with Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School as kids (and adults), and had talked off and on about collaborating on a quirky/creepy middle grade stories for years. We were huge fans of the podcast, Welcome to Night Vale when it first came out, and that was when the concept really hit us. The misadventures of a group of fifth graders in a topsy-turvy, sometimes sinister coastal town where nothing is quite what it seems.

Diane: Which character in the book do you relate to the most? Why?

Kir relates the most to Runa, with her wildly creative stories, artwork all over everything, and her occasional head-in-the-clouds demeanor (There’s glitter up there, don’t you know?).

M. Shelley has a special affinity for Quincy, who wants to please everyone and sometimes struggles with anxiety over little things. She can’t bake nearly as well as he can, but would love to give his recipe for upside-down lemon pound cake a try next time she’s in a no-gravity environment.

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Diane: Tell me about your childhood as it relates to writing.

When M. Shelley was in elementary school, she loved writing mysteries. The problem was, she never really solved them. She just kept piling red herrings and twists on her poor characters, often surprising herself along the way. As an adult, she still loves a good ambiguous ending more than anything. Life hardly ever ties up in a neat little bow—why should stories?

Kir loved to draw just as much as she loved to write, and she elaborately illustrated all her stories before she even knew the words. She didn’t illustrate TOPSEA — that was the incredible Rachel Sanson! — but she promises her childhood self she’ll publish a picture book someday.


Diane: What message would you like children to take away from this story?

Normal is a relative term. And please be very cautious around rubber ducks.

Diane: Were any of the experiences in the book based on your personal experiences?

Kir actually grew up in a coastal town. It wasn’t TOO much like Topsea, but there was a huge feral cat colony living in the rocks at one beach. (And a feral squirrel colony living in the rocks at another.)

M. Shelley was once the new kid in town, just like Davy. Granted, she moved to Dallas, not Topsea, but to her, it felt equally as strange. The school cafeteria served steaks fried like chicken and topped with gravy that was white instead of brown, and kids listened to country music on purpose…how bizarre! She definitely tapped into that feeling when writing about Davy and his reaction to seaweed ketchup and smiling cats.

Diane: What were your favorite books to read as children?

Books by Louis Sachar (Wayside!) and Roald Dahl top both our lists.  M. Shelley always made a beeline for the shelves with Nancy Drew, Fear Street, and Goosebumps, while Kir read every book of scary stories she could get her hands on.


Diane: What are your greatest successes?

We’re very proud of the fact that, SECRETS OF TOPSEA is a Junior Library Guild pick!

M. Shelley’s alter ego, Michelle Schusterman, has a book coming out July 31st called SPELL & SPINDLE, and it recently received a starred review from Kirkus, who called it “an excellent melding of horror and heart.”

Kir’s alter ego, Kirsten Hubbard, thinks her greatest success was probably finishing her first novel, LIKE MANDARIN — which will soon be tied with finishing the novel she’s currently writing. (How do we finish these things, anyway? We’re amazed every time!)

Diane: Any hints about the future (what you’re working on, and/or another Topsea book in the making)?

Something BIG is coming to Topsea — and to bookstores in early 2019. Keep your eye on the tides…

Diane: Thank you for sharing Topsea with us! We loved it!

Thank you!

I absolutely loved interviewing both authors. It was great to hear their inside thoughts about the book, where they are heading and the inside scoop. I have the highest respect for authors and their gift of bringing an imaginary world right into our mind and heart. Secrets of Topsea is a book you can enjoy with your child. It’s something they can read alone or you can co-read and chat about. I love reading some of the books my tween reads to generate conversations about life. 



So, what’s the book all about? Here we go, without any spoilers!

There’s a new kid in the town of Topsea who has a lot to learn about his surroundings. He thinks things are strange but that is only the beginning. His mom tries to convince him that it’s all normal and that he will get used to life on the coast. But when Davy attends his first day of class at Topsea School and finds his locker is at the bottom of the pool he’s not sure what to think. He also doesn’t understand why no one can remember his name and everyone thinks everything is so normal!

Topsea is definitely the strangest place you’ll ever visit and for Davy, live. In this town, the coves are bottomless and the pier has no end in sight. There’s a high tide and a low tide and a vanishing tide. Dogs are a myth, but mermaids are totally real. Seaweed is the main ingredient in every meal. Watch out, it might just start chewing you back!


Davy is curious to find out more about Topsea and sets out on an investigation reading newspaper articles, stories, surveys, notifications, and more, follow Davy and the rest of Ms. Grimalkin’s fifth grade class through the weird world of Topsea. By the way, there are rubber ducks, but please do not make eye contact with them! 

Does Topsea sound like a place you would like to visit? We loved it there and you will, too! Enjoy the time you spend reading A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean- Secrets Of Topsea! You can find out more about A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean- Secrets of Topsea and purchase it at your local bookstore or here (Click here): https://www.amazon.com/Friendly-Almost-Always-Secrets-TopseaDianeDisneySMMCDisclosure: Diane Sullivan was invited by Disney-Hyperion to be part of the A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean. We are honored to be a part of this Blog Tour. All opinions are honest and do not represent the views of the parent company represented. Contact me at 3decades3kids@gmail.com or @3decades3kids across all social media networks. 

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