A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always By The Ocean! Creating the Town of Topsea

Fox and Coats here! Thanks so much for hosting us on your blog. We’re so excited the first book in the SECRETS OF TOPSEA series is out in the world, and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to give your readers a behind-the-scenes peek at how we named the town—a process almost as long as Topsea’s endless pier!

 

Our biggest inspiration for the world of Topsea was the delightfully creepy podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and the quirky kids book series Sideways Stories from Wayside School. As we brainstormed and wrote A Friendly Town That’s Almost by the Ocean, our placeholder town name was Sidevale.

 

We knew we wouldn’t (and couldn’t) actually use it, and figured another, better town name would come to us eventually. Problem was, we got really attached to Sidevale — and just couldn’t figure out a town name we liked as much. Even after we’d sold it, and edited it… we still called the town Sidevale.

 

We both wrote long lists of potential town names, sharing them in a spreadsheet. We scoured maps in coastal areas all over the world, seeking oddly named coves, weird little inlets, bizarre beaches for inspiration. We jotted down long lists of oceanic words and terms, from seashells to boat parts.

We liked a few of them… But we didn’t love any.

We made even longer lists. We took notes on coastal road trips. We watched the sky for signs. We doodled ideas in the sand. We enlisted the help of our agents, our editors at Disney-Hyperion, author friends like Sarah Enni and Maurene Goo, our mothers and fathers, any rock cats we passed.

It really came down to the wire. We finished two rounds of revisions and headed into line edits, and still, our town was called Sidevale! At that point, we realized the town name had to be two syllables; otherwise, it would throw off the cadence of many of our sentences. We sent a final list of ideas to our editors and agents, which included the word “Topsy”…then realized we could alter the spelling to sneak the sea in there. The response was unanimous: everyone loved it! It’s just the perfect name for a quirky little coastal town.

 

We hope you’ll visit Topsea soon! We think you’ll have a ton of fun. Just don’t make eye contact with the rubber ducks.

 

About the book: Welcome to Topsea, the strangest place you’ll ever visit. 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. And seaweed is the main ingredient in every meal—watch out, it might just start chewing you back!

 

New kid Davy definitely thinks Topsea is strange. His mom keeps saying they’ll get used to life in their new town—it’s just the way things are on the coast! But after his first day at Topsea School, Davy finds himself wondering: Why is his locker all the way at the bottom of the school swimming pool? Why can’t anyone remember his name? (It’s Davy!) And why does everyone act like all of this is normal?!

 

Through 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. (Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with the rubber ducks.)

 

About the authors: 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), and the middle-grade novel Olive and the Backstage Ghost and the forthcoming Spell & Spindle (Random House Children’s Books). She’s also the coauthor of the YA novel The Pros of Cons (Scholastic). She lives in New York City.

Self Disclosure: I participated in a Book Blog tour and received this wonderful Guest Post. The image was also provided. 

 

 

 

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