Episode 215: Fact vs. Fiction in Historical Novels — Interview with Rebecca Behrens

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I am so excited to have Rebecca Behrens on the show!

Rebecca is not only a fabulous middle grade author but also a dear friend. In fact, we live directly across the street from each other here in New York City, and we were part of the same “Write Nite Ladies” kidlit writing group for years.

Rebecca is the author of the middle grade historical fiction novels When Audrey Met Alice, Summer of Lost and Found, and most recently The Last Grand Adventure. All of her books have garnered high praise from sources like Kirkus, BookPage, and School Library Journal, and some of her favorite things include: the beach, history, running, doughnuts, and laughing.

So listen in as we chat about Rebecca’s newest middle grade novel, and how to blend fact and fiction together when writing historical novels for young readers.

In this episode Rebecca and I discuss:

  • Weaving a famous historical figure into your fiction the right way.
  • How to work around legal red flags when writing historical fiction.
  • Crafting supporting characters in a road trip story.
  • The importance of representing real people accurately in your novel.
  • How to use your setting to develop your main character’s arc.

Plus, Rebecca’s #1 tip for writers.

About Rebecca Behrens

A former textbook editor, Rebecca Behrens is the author of the middle-grade novels When Audrey Met Alice, which BookPage called “a terrific work of blended realistic and historical fiction;” Summer of Lost and Found, which School Library Journal praised as deftly written; and The Last Grand Adventure, which Kirkus recommends as “a quirky, heart-rending journey.” Rebecca lives and writes in New York City, where she also works as a copy editor. Some of her favorite things are: the beach, history, running, doughnuts, and laughing.

To connect with Rebecca check out her website at rebeccabehrens.com. And follow her on Instagram at @rebeccabehrensbooks.

The Last Grand Adventure

Twelve-year-old Bea finds herself on a unique road-trip with her grandmother, as they search for her grandmother’s long-lost sister—the legendary Amelia Earhart—in this charming novel.

It’s the Summer of ’67—and twelve-year-old Bea’s world has been shaken up. Her mother is off in San Francisco, while her father has remarried in Los Angeles, adding a stepmom and younger stepsister to the mix. Bea, unsure of all the change happening around her, feels stuck.

So when her grandmother, Pidge, moves to a retirement community, Bea agrees to visit and help her adjust. But it turns out her grandmother isn’t interested in “settling in”—what Pidge really wants is to hop a train to Atchison, Kansas, where she believes she’ll be reunited with her long-missing older sister: the legendary Amelia Earhart. And she wants Bea to be her sidekick on this secret trip.

At first, Bea thinks her grandmother’s plan sounds a little crazy. But Pidge does have thirty years of mysterious letters, written in “Meelie’s” unmistakable voice, all promising to reunite. This journey might be just the adventure Bea needs.

Bea and Pidge set off on their quest to reunite with Amelia. But getting halfway across the country proves to be far more of an adventure than either bargained for. Their journey takes them from the desert to the heartland, in planes, trains, and automobiles. And their search just might lead to surprising truths about their family—and each other.

Peppered with details of the real Amelia Earhart’s fascinating life, The Last Grand Adventure is a poignant story about seeing the world, becoming brave, and discovering the meaning of home.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

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