Monday, March 18, 2019

M.M. Vaughan Interview - Friendroid

Photo Content from M.M. Vaughan

The daughter of South American parents, Monica Meira Vaughan grew up in Spain before moving to London at the age of five where she learnt English by watching Sesame Street and reading every Roald Dahl book she could get her hands on. On leaving school, and after a brief stint in public relations, Monica decided to train as a primary school teacher. She spent over ten years working in special needs, mostly with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, before becoming a full time writer.

Monica loves writing after midnight, building cardboard cities and playing Lego with her daughter. She lives in London, UK.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (March 26, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1481490656
ISBN-13: 978-1481490658


"A timely parable for this generation of digital natives." ―Kirkus

"Vaughan presents another noteworthy sf middle-grade offering peppered with mystery." ―Booklist

"For middle-grade readers who are ready to fight the power." ―Publishers Weekly

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling – for both the storyteller and the audience - makes sense of the world around us. It allows us to play out our fantasies, inspire us, warn us, and show us the possible consequences of our actions. It’s been a way to pass on knowledge, wisdom and advice for as long as humans have been in existence and I can’t imagine that that will ever change. At least, I hope not!

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I came to England from Spain when I was five and didn’t speak a word of English. I picked up the language quickly enough, but I was never more than a very average English student at school. Though I read voraciously, I don’t think it ever once occurred to me that I could be a writer. It was only when I became a teacher and had the idea for my first book (The Ability) that I began to entertain the possibility.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
I’m lucky to say that there are many to choose from, but I think my happiest memory is probably the moment my dad told us that we weren’t really accompanying him on a work trip, but that he was taking us to Disneyworld! Growing up, I always said that I would surprise any children I had one day in the same way and, two years ago, that’s exactly what I did. Passing that memory on to my own daughter is now one of my happiest memories as an adult.

What was the most memorable toy you played with from when you were little?
My plastic Snoopy called, very unoriginally, ‘Snoopy’. My brother had one called ‘Snoops’, and when my brother went to live with my dad in Colombia for a year, Snoopy and Snoops wrote to each other every week. 

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
Classics. I loved Greek literature, and still do. I think it’s amazing how stories written thousands of years ago are still as accessible and relatable to us today as they were back then.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
My multiplication tables have come in very useful.

In your new book; FRIENDROID, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Friendroid is the story of the unlikely friendship between Danny and Eric. Eric, who has no idea that he is an android, is programmed to make friends with only the most popular kids in his school, and Danny is definitely not on that list. But as Eric’s artificial intelligence grows (far more quickly than his developers anticipated), he realizes that he has more in common with Danny than he expected. The story is set in a not-so-distant future that is brand and social media obsessed. I hope it gives readers pause for thought about the qualities we value in ourselves and those of the people we choose to be friends with.

For those who are unfamiliar with Eric and Danny, how would you introduce them?
Danny has had a difficult childhood and he tries to shield himself from hurt with his sharp wit and by isolating himself from others. Eric, on the other hand, believes that the most important thing in the world is to be popular – because that’s what he has been programmed to believe. It’s only when the boys are forced to spend time together that Eric realizes he has more in common with Danny than he has with any of his ‘cool’ friends, and Danny realizes that he shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Danny, from Friendroid, to Michael, from SIX. I think Danny would enjoy hanging out at Michael’s house, and Michael would enjoy the company of someone who is as tech-savvy and gaming-obsessed as he is.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Keep reading! Read as much as you can - it will make you interesting, funny and wise. 

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid? 
The 1950’s. I love the music, the clothes and the excitement of a new type of future.

One of your stuffed animals' names as a kid? 
Friday (the Frog).

Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
Being excited about receiving any mail addressed to me. That changes very quickly once you become an adult!

What is your greatest adventure?
Three weeks in Nashville, Tennessee with my best friend, when I was 19 years old. We were obsessed with country music – unusual in London at the time – and Nashville, with it’s incredible music scene, was everything we had dreamed of. 

What was your favorite book as a child and why?
This is difficult – there are so many! I think I’ll go with George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl. I loved the idea of being able to create something magical out of normal household products. My brother and I tried to make our own ‘marvelous medicine’ many times, to my mother’s horror! We never had any success, for some reason. I never was able to work out what we did wrong.

1. Talk about ideas with friends or fellow writers. Talking through an idea with others and watching them get excited about is guaranteed to make me want to run home and start writing.

2. Plan. Writing is much easier when you already know what you want to write. This doesn’t necessarily mean heavily plotting out everything – that approach doesn’t work for everyone. Planning can be done in your head or on paper. Sometimes I just doodle all over a page as I’m thinking about a scene and don’t write down a single word. Still counts as planning J

3. Find time to write. That’s difficult to do when meals need cooking, bills need paying, and people around you need your attention. It can feel self-indulgent to hide away for a few hours to write, but it’s the only way to get in the right frame of mind; writing and multi-tasking are, unfortunately, incompatible!

4. Visualize a scene. Imagine going to the cinema and watching the scene you’re planning to write next. I do this a lot and it really helps when I sit down at my laptop as all I have to do then is to describe the scene that I’ve just watched.

5. Take inspiration from what you love. Think about favourite films and books and work out exactly what it is about them that you love. Use whatever that is (style, theme, setting) as a starting point for your own story.

6. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Write a story because you’d want to read the story yourself, not because you think it will be a commercial success. Bestsellers generally inspire trends, not follow them. By the time you’ve started writing the next Twilight, agents and publishers have already gone through all the vampire manuscripts they previously shelved and put them into production. And by the time you’ve finished writing your book, the market is completely saturated and even the greatest vampire novel ever is going to struggle to get published. That’s advice from my agent, who knows about this stuff.

7. Don’t get stuck. I used to waste days agonizing over the simplest of sentences until I finally got into the habit of just skipping the part I’m stuck on. It’s amazing how quickly I find a solution once I’m back in the flow and have had a little distance from what I was attempting to write.

8. Keep a notebook with you at all times. Write down anything that inspires you – a word, a scene, a conversation, a news story etc. I use the back pages of my notebook for this so I always know where to look when I need it. 

9. Love what you’re writing. It’s hard to be inspired about anything you don’t feel passionate about. Plus, if you aren’t inspired by your own writing, then it’s unlikely your readers will feel inspired when reading it.

10. Don’t let the fear of failure get in the way. So many people I speak to don’t write because they don’t think it will be good enough to get a book deal. Enjoy the process and don’t worry about whether the book will get published in the end. No matter what or how well you write, there are no guarantees when it comes to getting a book deal, except one; a book that hasn’t been written is guaranteed not to be published!

Stranger Things meets robots in this sweet story about an unlikely friendship between two boys—one human, one android. 

Eric Young is an android, but he doesn’t know. He does know that he’s just moved to Ashland, so it’s important to make the right kind of friends—the kind that would be interested in skateboarding and the new Slick sneakers his Uncle Martin sends him.

Danny Lazio doesn’t have any friends, but he doesn’t care. Even if his classmates don’t accept him, he still has Land X, the online role play game that he’s actually really good at. But then Eric takes an interest in Land X, and suddenly Danny thinks he might have found a real friend…if he can figure out the mystery behind Eric’s sudden disappearances and strange lifestyle.

It becomes harder to ignore the weird events that happen only around Eric. But uncovering the secret behind Eric’s identity is an act that might cost them both as powerful forces soon move in around them.

This heartfelt story about friendship and what it means to be human is sure to tug at your soul—or your soul-chip if you’re like Eric.

You can purchase Friendroid at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you M.M. VAUGHAN for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive a Copy of FRIENDROID by M.M. Vaughan. 
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MARCH 22nd FRIDAY Cover2CoverBlog EXCERPT 

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MARCH 26th TUESDAY RhythmicBooktrovert REVIEW
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APRIL 1st MONDAY Two Points of Interest REVIEW 
APRIL 2nd TUESDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW
APRIL 3rd WEDNESDAY Stephanie's Life of Determination REVIEW


  1. This book sounds so sweet, but thought-provoking, too. I wonder what it would have been like to have a robot friend as a kid. Would he still chortle when I burped? Do robots burp?

    Best of luck to Ms. Vaughan on this new release!

  2. Friendroids sound like an excellent idea! I understand that in Japan elderly people grow attached to the robot pets they've been given for companionship!