Coming March 2020

The Copy Cat

Interview with Mary E. Lambert, Author of Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes


I’m thrilled today to talk to Mary E. Lambert, author of Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes.




What it’s about:


Annabelle has a five mile rule: She must keep her friends from coming within five miles of her home. That’s because Annabelle’s mom is a hoarder. Their house is full of stuff: canned goods, broken toys, old newspapers… It’s everywhere except for Annabelle’s spotless room.

Annabelle can’t let anyone find out what her house is like. They’ll realize that her mom is crazy. They’ll make fun of her. Or feel sorry for her. Or try to help.

But when the newspaper piles come crashing down on her sister’s head one morning, it kicks off an epic fight between her parents that ends up with her dad taking off — and her fix-it-all grandmother stepping in.

As Annabelle realizes how bad things have gotten for her little sister, while trying to navigate her first crush, not to mention stay sane herself, she’s forced to come to terms with the fact that maybe she can’t keep all her secrets to herself. Maybe she can’t just throw her mom’s things out… maybe she has to let some people in.


The Interview!

I love the premise of Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes. I’ve never read a children’s book that has hoarding as a central theme. What gave you the idea?

Thank you! I’m so glad you like my novel’s premise. When I was in graduate school, I considered writing a piece of speculative fiction inspired by hoarding. After I explained my book concept to one of my advisors, she asked me, “Why not just write about hoarders?” And I thought she had a good point. I’ve always been somewhat intrigued by hoarding, probably because at certain points in my life I have struggled with the compulsion to collect things like empty water bottles or junk mail. Most of the items Annabelle’s mom saves are things I might feel compelled to keep; although, I have never reached the extremes of my main character’s mother.

What’s the one middle grade novel you’d take with you to a desert island?

Oh no, only one book! I think I would have to choose Anne of Green Gables. I love the novel’s humor, hopefulness, and heart. Anne Shirley has been one of my favorite characters since I was a middle-grader, and her story is one that I can happily read over and over again.  


How do you plan to celebrate your books’ launch?

I’m so excited that Changing Hands, a local bookstore, is hosting my launch. I’ve invited my students, my family, and my friends to come celebrate with me. I plan to read the first chapter of my novel and to give away miniature Beanie Babies as party favors (since Beanie Babies play an important role in Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes).


So here’s my dream dinner: you can host a dinner party and invite six middle grade authors (living or dead). Who would you invite and why? Bonus points if you tell me what you’re cooking for them!

 First, I would have to invite L.M. Montgomeryafter all, I chose one of her books as my desert island companion! And from what I know about Montgomery’s life, I think she must have been an entertaining individual.

 Next I would invite Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary, because I first fell in love with the magic of books when my teacher read The BFG and Ramona the Pest to the class. 

 C.S. Lewis is another writer I would like to meet. I loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but was less enthusiastic about The Last Battle. As the oldest girl and the second born of four children, I always felt a kinship with Susan Pevensie, and after reading the last book in the series, I’ve got some questions for C.S. Lewis.

 I also have some questions for Laura Ingalls Wilder. When I was young, I loved the Little House books. This deluded me into thinking I would have been a great pioneer. Now I realize that Laura left a lot out of her novelslike the toilet situation and dental hygiene…and many other things that now make me realize I probably would be a terrible frontierswoman. 

Last of all, I think I would pick Hans Christian Andersen. He played a pivotal role in the development of modern children’s literature and wrote poignant, enduring fairy tales that have inspired storytellers across the ages. His birthday, April 2nd, is International Children’s Book Day.

I would serve my guests an afternoon tea, which would include cucumber sandwiches (as snozzcumbers are currently out of season), cheese danishes, little heart-shaped cakes sprinkled with white sugar, and hard boiled eggs. Raspberry cordial would also be offered.      


What projects are you working on next?

I am currently revising a contemporary YA novelmy working title is The Briefly Existential Crisis of Miranda Miracle. (What can I say? I guess I just really love long titles.) I am also about three-fourths of the way through a middle-grade fantasy and about a quarter of the way through a middle-grade contemporary.   


To learn more about Mary and find out where you can order her books, visit her website!


THANK YOU SO MUCH MARY (and I want to be a fly on the wall for that dinner party!)


Author of Children's Literature