Princess Angelica, Camp Catastrophe: Angelica isn’t a liar. She just loves making up stories. When she goes to sleepaway camp and is mistaken for a princess, she could easily clear up the misunderstanding…but pretending to be royalty is way more fun! When her best friend from home surprises her at camp, Angelica is forced to fess up. Luckily, she also has a talent for repairing things, and when disaster strikes on the girls’ kayaking trip, Jelly has to repair more than just her newfound friendships.
What planning and research did you do for your book?
Princess Angelica is a handyperson. So I had to research household problems. I used all the problems that have happened in the little old house I live in in Montreal. For instance, Angelica has to repair a leaky roof. I read a ton about repairs to do the book. Also, Angelica is a bit of a fibber. She misleads her friends into believing that she is a princess. In 1971, when I was 11, I went to the Y Country Camp in the Laurentians here in Quebec and I told my bunkmates that I was a princess. All summer, they made my bed and did my chores. In exchange, I told them stories about the royal court. So there’s a quite of lot of me in Princess Angelica!
What is your ideal writing environment?
My ideal writing environment is my cozy office at home. It used to be a kids’ room when another family lived here. I never repainted it because I like the walls—they’re blue with clouds!
How do you decide on names for your characters?
I have a great story for you about how I got the name Angelica. I was doing a high school visit in 2015 at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe-Claire, Quebec and I was impressed by a very smart, interested student named Angelica. When I told my friend, librarian Miss Dunn, that I was impressed by Angelica, she said, “You mean Jelly!” That’s when I found the character for my book.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to overcome it?
Never! But I tell my students that if they get writer’s block to just keep writing. Even if you write, “I hate writing. I hate writer’s block. This is driving me crazy.” If you keep writing, the block will pass.
What was the last novel you read? Why did you choose it? What did you think of it?
Tortues à L’Infini—it’s the French language translation of John Green’s new YA novel Turtles All the Way Down. I read it for work—I review French language YA books for Radio-Canada here in Montreal. I liked it, but not as much as The Fault in Our Stars.
Do you remember your dreams? Do they ever become inspiration for your writing?
Yes, I love remembering my dreams. And I write them down when I remember them. When I get stuck in a story, I sometimes take a nap and I wake up with a good idea that helps me get unstuck!
In an alternate universe, what would your dream career be, other than a writer?
Do you have a secret or unlikely talent?
Hmmm… I’m what is called an open book. No secrets!!
What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?
Conversations about the power of imagination, about girls and power! About what it means to be a leader.
Princess Angelica, Camp Catastrophe is available now!
Monique Polak has written many novels for young adults, including her historical novel What World is Left, which won the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation
Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. When not writing award-winning books, Monique teaches English and Humanities at Marianopolis College in Montreal, Quebec. She is also an active freelance journalist. For more information, visit www.moniquepolak.com.