Ho ho ho! Santa’s got a brand-new bag. (If you’re a James Brown aficianado, you’ll have “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” in your head now. Mwahahaha!) Today on the blog, I’m thrilled to welcome three great authors and fellow VCFA alums: Melanie Crowder, Caroline Carlson, and Skila Brown. They agreed to a quick interview without any coercion from moi or that cupcake-wielding supervillain, Hello Kitty. If you’re totally confused by that last statement, go here.
Melanie, who also wrote Parched, is here to talk about her upcoming young adult historical novel-in-verse, Audacity, which will be coming to a bookstore near you on January 8, 2015 (published by Philomel Books/Penguin). Melanie is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.
Caroline is here to discuss The Terror of the Southlands, book 2 of her middle grade series, The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, published by HarperCollins. If you were around last year, you’ll remember that Caroline stopped by just before the first book of her series debuted. (See here and here.) Good times. Caroline is represented by Sarah Davies.
And last, but certainly not least, Skila is here to talk about her middle grade historical novel-in-verse, Caminar, published by Candlewick Press. Skila is represented by Tina Wexler.
After our discussion, I’ll talk about a holiday giveaway that I hope will be an annual thing.
El Space: Greetings and welcome to the blog. Could each of you provide an elevator pitch for your book to bring readers up to speed about it?
Melanie: Audacity is the inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history.
Caroline: Hilary Westfield is a full-fledged pirate now, but if she doesn’t prove her boldness and daring by rescuing a kidnapped Enchantress, she’ll be kicked out of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates for good.
Skila: Set in 1981 Guatemala, this novel-in-verse tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.
El Space: Awesome. So, tell us what inspired you to write your book.
Melanie: Clara’s story just wouldn’t let go of me. I first discovered her in 2010, while looking for topics to try my hand at picture book biographies during the second semester of my MFA at Vermont College. But the more I read about Clara, the more I was captivated. I began to suspect that this would turn into a novel-length book. And then her voice showed up—in free verse, no less! I had to follow. . . .
Caroline: The Terror of the Southlands is a sequel to my first book, Magic Marks the Spot. I wanted to continue the story of Hilary’s adventures on the High Seas, explore more of her world, and learn more about the characters I’d created for the first book. Also, I love detective stories, and this book, while not a traditional mystery, is absolutely swarming with detectives. Pirates too, of course!
Skila: I spent a long time reading and learning about Guatemala’s Armed Conflict and the role that the U.S. played in that violence. It made me angry—angry about what happened and angry that not many people know about it. There are so many things I can’t do about so many issues in the world. But one thing I can do is tell a story. So that’s what I did. I told a story about a boy who survived. I think survival stories are the best kind of stories to read.
El Space: You’ve all intrigued me! If you had a choice of educating, astounding, amusing, or challenging a child or a teen with your writing, which would you choose? Why? You can pick a combination of two if you wish.
Melanie: Challenging. Definitely. This is a book for teens, and Clara was a teen when she became an activist. I absolutely want readers to find her story and to know that they, too, can change the world.
Caroline: I love reading and writing humor, so one of my main goals every time I sit down at the keyboard is to amuse both myself and my eventual readers. That said, I hope that while kids are laughing, they’re also being challenged, astounded, and only very occasionally educated.
Skila: Challenging. I was the kid who loved to be challenged and also who loved to challenge. There’s always that one kid in every class, right? Raising her hand in class to say, “I think you’re wrong,” to the teacher. I would love the idea of my book challenging what you might believe about war, or the way you think about the world, or the capabilities of a child. I love books that make me think. I hope Caminar is a book like that.
El Space: If your main character had a Christmas stocking or made a Hanukkah wish, what would this character wish for? Why?
Melanie: Books! Clara loved poetry, and she loved learning—languages, social theory, literature—all of it!
Caroline: Hilary’s Christmas stocking would probably include a sword-polishing kit, a packet of homemade cookies from her governess, and a good book she could read aloud to her gargoyle.
Skila: Carlos would probably wish for food, for obvious reasons. But on a lighter note: candy! And maybe a radio.
Thanks, Melanie, Caroline, and Skila for stopping by! I’d love to have you guys come back again!
And if you’ve popped over to check out these authors, thanks for stopping by. There are other places where they can be found. Looking for Melanie? Look here. Looking for Caroline? Look here. Looking for Skila? Look here. You can find each wonderful book by clicking on its title:
Audacity (preorders only)
The Terror of the Southlands
You can also find each book at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. If you’ve been wishing for more books this holiday season, your wish is about to be granted. I’m giving away a preorder of Audacity and a copy of The Terror of the Southlands and Caminar. Comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winners will be announced on Monday, December 22.
Jordie and his archnemesis have agreed on a truce during the holidays. Each is hoping Santa will bring him/her books by Melanie, Caroline, and Skila. Um . . . yes, Jordie and Hello Kitty still believe in Santa. Don’t you?
Christmas ornament from realestateyak.com. Hanukkah menorah from tucker-tribune.blogspot.com. Christmas stocking image from dryicons.com. Santa bag from its-so-cute.blogspot.com. Pirate ship from free-clipart-pictures.net. Strike photo from historymatters.gmu.edu.
Great interview–thanks, ladies! I loved TERROR OF THE SOUTHLANDS and can’t wait to read AUDACITY and CAMINAR! In fact, preordering AUDACITY and buying CAMINAR sounds like an excellent holiday present for myself. 🙂
Thanks, Laurie. Um, you might hold off on the preorder until I announce the winner on Monday.
Ooh, good advice. I suppose I can wait until Monday 🙂
Terrific interview, ladies! I’m really loving that bag, L. Marie. It’s so festive!
Thanks, Jill. I found that bag on the Internet. I would love to have one!!!
Adding these to my TBR list immediately! Great interview!
Thank you! Glad you’re adding them to your list.
Thanks for the intro, L. Marie. You handled your 3-in-1 interview with admirable admiralty and a pirate’s aplomb. Happy to hear about the truce too.
Here’s to challenging, educational, entertaining, and amusing reading adventures!
Thanks, Nancy! And yes, I’m grateful for the truce. It makes life more peaceful here. I’m always glad to do anything with aplomb. 🙂
Great interview with three amazing writers!
Thank you! Yes, they are amazing!
Thank you for bringing in three awesome authors and all around cool chicks from VCFA! I loved hearing about each of those intriguing books. But you know what else I love? The cupcake-wielding supervillain, Hello Kitty. She’s very creepy the way she stares at you from her hiding place, isn’t she?
I know what you mean. That vacant stare. Chills the blood, doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by, Laura!
What a fun idea–to do a triple interview! All the books sound great. Two novels in verse and pirates. No wonder Hello Kitty and Jordie are hoping for books from Santa!
Please tell me you got my reply about my Amazon email. Internet is not entirely dependable where I am.
These all sound like great books, Linda. More selections for Christmas (and after) giving.
Hi, Andra. I didn’t receive your email. I just need to know which email address you use with Amazon.
Dang it. I’m sorry. I was afraid you didn’t. The andra at positus one.
I just sent it. Let me know if it hasn’t arrived.
I loved the interviews and am looking forward to these books! I teach American Jewish History at my local synagogue, so I’ll make sure we get enough copies for the kids too. And Caminar is amazing! I was lucky to be able to read it in beta version.
Thanks, Lyn. That would be awesome!
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Hi Linda, I’ve tagged you. If you see my post The Christmas Tag, but no obligation, I don’t normally do these things myself 🙂
Hi, Andy. I saw your post. I meant to comment on it, but realized I hadn’t read your other posts. So I got distracted by them and drifted away. I didn’t know I’d been tagged. Um, I’m heading off for Christmas though. Unfortunately, I won’t have time to answer the questions. Thanks for including me though! I enjoyed your answers.
No problem, have a great Christmas Linda.
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