Congratulations to Anne Bustard on her middle grade novel, Blue Skies, a heartwarming story of a girl who has never given up hope that her daddy will return from WWII. So when the Merci Train boxcar from France is scheduled to make a stop in her Texas town, she’s certain that Daddy will come too.

We asked Anne about her writing journey:

Middle Grade Mojo: What do you want the reader to take away from your story?

Anne Bustard: I would be thrilled if readers are affirmed by Glory Bea’s resilience, and the idea that no matter what, love is forever. That miracles happen, but they may not look like we expect. And expressions of gratitude, no matter how small, can be significant.

MGM: What advice would you give to someone who is writing historical fiction?

Anne Bustard: Expect to be surprised by what you discover (or don’t discover) through research. Find as many primary sources as possible. Know that librarians and experts are extraordinarily generous and helpful. Do as much research as you can up front, but it’s okay not to know everything before writing the first draft. Learning the vocabulary, music, dress, circumstances, and more about your setting is an ongoing process. Keep files as organized and up-to-date as possible for quick reference, which for me is easier said than done. Most of all, have fun!

MGM: Can you share a fun story about your writing journey?

Anne Bustard: This question made me smile. Hands-on research is my happy place. In Blue Skies, Glory Bea is the target of her next-door neighbor’s practical jokes. Her only hope of stopping him is to return the favor with a trick of her own. So I wondered how these two characters could dupe one another. Thanks to print and online sources, I narrowed down the possibilities. Then, of course I had to make sure the jokes would work, so I acted all of them out save one. I took for granted that shoe polish on the eyepieces of binoculars would produce raccoon-like eyes on the user.


Find out more about Anne Bustard at