Q: Where did you get the idea for THE BREAKTHROUGH?

AT: One night my kids asked me to tell them a bedtime story. We had just gotten home from a Labor Day Weekend carnival in Mendham, NJ. Even though there weren’t any hot air balloons at the carnival, I made up a story about a boy at a carnival who sneaks onto a hot air balloon. Every night I added to the story. Soon, I became so attached to the characters, I had to write the story down on paper. After rewriting the book countless times, I finally looked for a publisher.

Q: Have you ever been on a hot air balloon?

AT: Believe it or not, I’ve only been on a tethered balloon. The balloon lifted up into the air about 80 feet with ropes anchoring it to the ground. Someday I hope to take a real hot air balloon ride (but I promise not to sneak on!)

Q: Is THE BREAKTHROUGH your first book?

AT: No, but it’s my first novel. I wrote a nonfiction book for college students called UP YOUR GRADES: PROVEN STRATEGIES FOR ACADEMIC SUCCESS while I was in graduate school.

Q: What were your favorite books as a kid?

AT: A couple of my favorites were THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis, A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle, and WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams. I also loved the Nancy Drew mysteries and Judy Blume’s books.

Q: Are you writing another book?

AT: I’m working on a couple of different projects. I wish I could find the time to write down all of the stories that pop into my head. I’ve started writing a sequel to THE BREAKTHROUGH, but I’m only in the beginning stages. I’m also working on a historical fiction novel about a boy who escapes an earthquake in Portugal and sneaks onto a ship bound for Brazil.

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