Friday, November 17, 2017

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: THE REAL MCCOYS by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr @writingmatthew @drawingrobbi @JeanBookNerd


Her name’s Moxie. Moxie McCoy.

Bold, opinionated, and haplessly self-confident, the world’s greatest fourth-grade detective faces her biggest challenge! When someone kidnaps beloved school mascot Eddie the Owl, Moxie is on the case—but she’s forced to fly solo now that her best friend (and crime-solving partner) has moved away.

Moxie must interview her classmates—both as potential new best friends and as possible suspects. She finds clues and points fingers but can’t save the owl on her own. Enter Moxie’s little brother, Milton. Quiet, cautious, and boring as a butter knife, he’s a good listener.

Can the Real McCoys form an unlikely alliance and solve the crime of the century?

Bursting with interactive illustrations on every page, Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr’s The Real McCoys delivers clever storytelling, laugh-out-loud humor, and heartwarming insight. This is the first book in a series.


"Readers will breeze through this ingenious combination of text and art, eager for Moxie and Milton’s next case." —School Library Journal, starred review

"Swanson’s witty text is enhanced exponentially by Behr’s bold, original artwork to create a uniquely told whodunit with wide appeal ... An exceptional book." —Booklist, starred review

"An exceptional middle-grade read packed with giggles for young sleuths who love to explore a little off the beaten path." —Kirkus Reviews

"This clever, funny, delightful book is just what this crazy world needs. The surprising and inventive interaction between text and illustration shows that two brains are, indeed, better than one--especially when they belong to Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr." —Andrea Beaty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ada Twist Scientist

Guest Post:


When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? 

Matthew: Hello folks. Matthew Swanson here. I’m the author of The Real McCoys.

Robbi: And I’m Robbi, the illustrator.

Matthew: We are married.

Robbi: And we have four kids.

Matthew: We collaborate on everything, from diaper changing to towel folding to corn shucking.

Robbi: Corn shucking? Is that something we do?

Matthew: Yes. Not very often, but when it happens, we do it together.

Robbi: This is such a red herring. If you’ve done something maybe twice and you just happened to do it together, I’m not sure it can be considered representative. 

Matthew: To be honest, I’m not sure we do much towel-folding either.

Robbi: We definitely do diaper-changing, but I have to say, I feel like you mostly take the lead and I only pop in if it’s a real disaster. Is that collaborating?

Matthew: This is a fair point. But I think the idea is that we do a lot of stuff together. So I’m not going to go back now and think of better examples. I think these people get the gist.

Robbi: Alright. So what are we doing here today?

Matthew: We have been asked to talk about how we develop characters. Shall I go first?

Robbi: The words come first in our process, so that makes sense.

Matthew: The truth is, for me, there is very little planning or thinking involved. When it’s time to write, I feel like a balloon that is full of too much air and there is a hole in the balloon and the air is shooting out without any specific shape or agenda. The air makes an awful screeching sound as it escapes from the balloon, and I try to channel that sound into words. I am listening too hard and typing too fast to do much thinking. Which is why I’m able to occasionally write something worth reading. Whenever I think about what I’m writing, it ends up being boring and stuffy and serious and completely unreadable.

Robbi: That is, indeed, the truth. I have read many pieces of writing that Matthew has tried to think his way through. Boy howdy.

Matthew: Your turn.

Robbi: Well, my process has very much to do with how Matthew writes the character (obviously). I read his writing pretty closely, and we actually do a lot of collaborating before I start drawing anything. And now that I think of it, I realize we mostly just end up talking about the spirit of the character. Most of the time, Matthew doesn’t do much actual describing of his characters in the writing itself – like how they look or what they’re wearing or how tall they are or if they have glasses or anything like that.

Matthew: I cannot be bothered with such trifling details.

Robbi: So I get to decide all of that. Which is kind of fun. In projects we’ve worked on in the past, it’s even gotten to where I’ll do some character sketches only to discover that he had imagined a character as a boy and I had imagined it as a girl. Which is to say, it’s pretty special as an illustrator to work with a writer who is so incredibly vague about certain things. Though, strangely, I seem to have a knack for being able to draw what Matthew sees in his head (gender notwithstanding), even when he hasn’t let me in on it.

Matthew: That’s true MOST of the time. But not always. For example I wrote a book about a dragon named Bill. We went through the whole sketching process and everything was good. And then Robbi inked the finals, and all was well, but then I went away with the kids for a long weekend so that she could add the watercolors, and when I got back, Bill was pink! PINK!

Robbi: What’s wrong with pink? He’s so handsome in pink.

Matthew: I love pink. Pink is often appropriate. And Bill is exactly the sort of dragon who should be pink, but it’s the kind of decision that has a big impact on that feel of the book, and I’m delighted that Robbi is the kind of illustrator who will make such a bold decision. I guess what I’m saying is, first I wrote the character, but left him not fully developed, and Robbi took it from there. I think her contributions were every bit as important as mine to determining what the reader thinks and feels about Bill.

Robbi: It’s all really quite collaborative.

Matthew: Much like how we shuck corn.

Learn more about Robbi and Matthew on their website ( or on the Robbi and Matthew Facebook page ( 



Combining Robbi’s illustrations and Matthew’s words, we run two small presses— Idiots’Books (illustrated picture books for adults) and Bobbledy Books, (a picture book and music club for kids). Together, we have published more than 60 volumes, including titles with MacmillanChronicle Books and LB KidsWe speak, teach, and run workshops on collaboration and creative entrepreneurship (with appearances at TEDx, Mom 2.0,Alt Summit, and ICON7). And we blog about our ongoing adventures in creative mishap.

ROBBI BEHR is an illustrator/print maker/commercial salmon fisherwoman who earned a BA from Williams College and an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. When she is not drawing stuff or eating ice cream or watching sappy late-90s chick movies, she is, in all likelihood, fast asleep.

MATTHEW SWANSON is a writer/art director/blues harmonica player who has so far failed in every attempt to be swashbuckling. He managed to secure a BA from Williams but was summarily rejected from every MFA program to which he applied—thus emboldening Robbi to remind him almost daily that he is a master of nothing.

Photo Content from Matthew Swanson ans Robbi Behr


--Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

- 20 Winners will receive a Copy of THE REAL MCCOYS by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr.


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