Tundra Trials

Hingham author Monica Tesler releases her second book in her five-part middle-grade fiction series.

Just write. Those are the words next to author Monica Tesler’s desk in her Hingham home. Her first book, “Bounders,” was published in January 2016 and her second book, “The Tundra Trials,” was released in December. She submitted a draft for a third book to her publisher that same month, in what she plans to be a five-part series.

For years, Tesler practiced law in Boston and would satisfy her creativity by writing while on the commuter boat to and from the city. “I had always been very creative and involved in the creative arts like theater and writing, and after having children and working, I was feeling like something was missing,” says the mother of two. Tesler enjoyed getting lost in another world she’d created in a Word document on her laptop. Her first book, a young adult story, did not get published, but some boat rides later, she had the first draft of “Bounders.” Her son Nathan loved it, as did Simon and Schuster, and they signed her to a series for the middle-grade audience.

Twelve-year-old Jasper Adams is the main character in “Bounders,” a story about an elite group of astronauts, space travel and alien wars. The theme of the adventure book, Tesler says, is “Don’t play small.” “When we’re young, we want to be the center of attention. Then as we get older we start to feel pressure not to stand out, not to be the center of the universe, to do what we’re supposed to do—but where does that leave our interests and our passions and that part of us that makes us unique?” she asks her audience at a recent book signing at Barnes and Noble in Hingham. Tesler describes a voice that might be telling you to slow down, fit in and “play small.” “Don’t listen to that voice,” she says. “Play big, chase your dreams and be you.” Her second book, “Tundra Trials,” is about finding your crew, your friends and family members who make you feel like you can be exactly who you are.

Her ideas seem to resonate with most in the audience and may even seem slightly advanced for her younger readers. “I think of this age group as being on a bridge between childhood and adulthood and they keep crossing back and forth,” she says. “They are able to understand really complex, serious stuff, but I try to present it in a way that is fun and accessible.” That’s where the space elevator and other planets come in.

Tesler visits local schools to talk about the writing process—both its challenges and rewards. The students write a story then they take feedback and revise some parts—the latter can be difficult for some. “I always tell them, ‘Bounders’ was built on a mountaintop of failures,” she says. “It’s a common path for writers, but it’s also a really good message for kids because they don’t often hear about failure and resiliency, and picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and trying again.”

Monica Tesler will be at Wellesley Books on February 11 and she will be at Pembroke Library on March 4. monicatesler.com

– Kelly Chase


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