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Jamie Sumner: Roll with It


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Roll with It

by Jamie Sumner

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother.

But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!


October 1st, 2019

Introduce yourself and your debut novel!

Hello! I’m Jamie Sumner. I love sunsets, long walks on the beach, and meaningful conversation…just kidding. Although I do like those things too.


I am a former high school English teacher who loves to bake and run and make epic Spotify playlists. I live with my husband and three kids in Nashville, TN. My debut novel, ROLL WITH IT, comes out with Atheneum/Simon & Schuster on October 1st and it features 12-year-old Ellie who also loves to bake. She and her mother upend their whole lives to move to Oklahoma to live in a trailer with her grandparents when her grandfather’s Alzheimer’s takes a turn for the worse. Ellie also happens to have cerebral palsy and her new school is not at all used to having a kid in a wheelchair. Chaos and triumph ensues.

What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?

The best surprise has been the friendships with fellow writers that I have made over the last year. Also, it’s surprising how slooooooooow the publishing process feels.

Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!

I have to name more than one. Dan Haring helped me create a wonderful book trailer and his middle grade novel, THE STAR SHEPHERD, came out a few week ago. Also, Jody J. Little, Rajani LaRocca, Remy Lai, and Cory Leonardo also debuted baking-themed novels this year!

How long did it take you to write this book?

I wrote this book in a fever. Ten days. That’s how long the first draft took. But as we all know, a first draft is a far flung shadow from the final book!


What inspired you to write this book?

My oldest son, who is seven, also has cerebral palsy. I could not have written this book without him. He continues to make me a better human being and writer.


Describe your main character in 3 words.

Funny

Tough

Witty


What was the hardest scene to write?

Without giving too much away, the scene right after the baking contest when Ellie’s grandfather goes missing was the hardest to write. I cried my way through it for many reasons.

Describe your writing space.

This is a fun question to answer because…I don’t have one! I have three children under eight years old. We don’t have an office. I don’t even have a desk. I write on the couch, at the kitchen table, in the car during soccer practice for my younger two. I write wherever and whenever I get the chance!


What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

This book didn’t require much research other than research in reverse, if that makes sense. I had to figure out what my readers wouldn’t know about living with a disability and then go backwards to make sure it was explained clearly so they could feel it and understand. But my next book, THE SURVIVAL PLAYLIST, which comes out October of 2020 required a great deal of research into the foster care system and DCS. I made sure to find early readers with experience in all the areas I was less familiar with to give me feedback.


What book or author has most influenced your own writing?

In my former life as an English teacher, I taught creative writing and Stephen King’s ON WRITING was my go-to for my students and myself. He’s funny, but also very clear on his process and what matters and what doesn’t. As a reader, I love Kate DiCamillo’s style and poetic voice.


If you could only buy one book this year, which book would it be?

I’m excited for R.J. Palacio’s new graphic novel, WHITE BIRD!


Share a favorite recipe!

This is my most favorite recipe from Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen. It’s also one that Ellie bakes in ROLL WITH IT and she even writes a letter to Deb!


From www.smittenkitchen.com:


3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (about 1 1/2 packages, 3/8 ounces or 11 grams) 1 tablespoon (13 grams) granulated sugar 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl 5 large eggs 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar 1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt 8 to 8 1/2 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) all-purpose flour 1/2 cup raisins (about 70 grams) per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.


1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar in water; set aside for 5 minutes until a bit foamy.


2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)


3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.


4. At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular*, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.


5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.


6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.


7. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.

Thanks for interviewing, Jamie! I'm going to try this challah recipe (sans the raisins) next time I bake! I can't wait to read about Ellie on 10/1/19!

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