For anyone who wishes they could think of a book concept like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, they might start by taking notes from Ann M. Martin.
Martin, whose wildly successful series The Baby-sitters Club has more books in print than all of the Harry Potter books combined, vowed that she would never write another series after The Baby-sitters Club, which ended in 2000. But like the orphan Harry Potter, who first occurred to Rowling in 1990, Martin has created two fictional orphans of her own specifically geared toward "tweens" — ages 8 to 12.
Martin's new series, Main Street, follows the lives of Ruby and Flora, who move in with their grandmother, Min, after their parents are killed in a car accident. Min runs a sewing shop in Camden Falls, Mass., and the girls slowly get to know the characters in town while they grieve for their parents.
Ruby and Flora must deal with some weighty issues, even in what appears to be an idyllic town. In the first 50 pages, readers meet characters with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. Others grapple with alcoholism, racism and poverty.
Martin, who will publish three books a year in the series, has already written the first two installments. The third will be released in October.
She spoke with Rebecca Roberts about Ruby and Flora's story, and the writing process.