Jo Hackl grew up just outside a ghost town in rural Mississippi where storytelling is a favorite form of entertainment. She spent her childhood exploring the piney woods, inventing characters, and creating tiny worlds out of acorns, rocks, sticks and moss. Today, she lives with her chef husband and children in Greenville, South Carolina, where she writes next to a window overlooking her woods. Jo is also a lawyer with Wyche, P.A., whose lawyers have worked to preserve over 100,000 acres of land for future generations. A graduate of Millsaps College and Yale Law School, Jo also founded, a resource celebrating the treasures and curiosities of nature with stories, know-how and inspiration to get readers outside. Jo’s debut novel, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe, is available in hardcover and paperback from Random House Children’s Books.



In Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe, 12-year-old Cricket and a field cricket named Charlene find adventure in an overgrown ghost town in Electric City, Mississippi. They follow a thirty-year-old clue trail left by an eccentric artist in search of a secret room that may or may not exist--all to try to win back Cricket’s run-away mother. Cricket must use her wits and just a smidgen of luck to live off the land in a Mississippi winter, survive a sleet storm and a snake-bite, and put together the pieces of an increasingly baffling puzzle. As she works toward uncovering the final clues, Cricket meets the reclusive last resident of the ghost town, enlists the help of a poetry-loving dog, and takes up a touch of grave-robbing.