Review: Coyote Winds by Helen Sedwick

 

 

Title:  Coyote Winds

Author: Helen Sedwick

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

COYOTE WINDS is an historical novel set on the western prairie in the years before the Dust Bowl, a time of optimism and confidence, a time when a man was measured by what he produced, not what he could buy. It explores the American can-do spirit that drew people to this wind-swept frontier and the consequences of that spirit. It asks whether that spirit survives today.

Lexile Score HL 690 (high low book); Honorable Mention 2013 Green Book Festival Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Summary: When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame what should be wild.

Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie.

Inspired by her father’s tales of growing up during the Dust Bowl, Sedwick weaves insight, humor, historical details and unforgettable characters into a coming-of-age story that reminds us that chasing a dream, even if it brings heartache, is far better than not dreaming at all.


Review:

I am fascinated with history, so when I was contacted to review Coyote Winds, I jumped at the chance.  The story is told through alternating POVs (including a coyote’s), and Myles is experiencing the Dust Bowl first hand.  His grandson, Andy, is desperately trying to understand his grandfather’s stories of life on the prairie.  Andy feels like he is nothing but a disappointment to his overachieving attorney parents, and he is struggling in school.  He can’t seem to connect with his peers or his classes.  After his grandfather’s death leaves a hole the size of the prairie in his heart, Andy attempts to reconcile his grandfather’s tales with what life on the prairie in the 1930s was really like.  Conflicting accounts his great aunt told his mother puzzle him, and for a boy who didn’t like reading, Andy was suddenly all about researching what his grandfather and his family endured on their homestead.  I loved how Andy kept insisting that it’s his story, too, and his mother’s story, after she shuts down and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

It took me a while to warm up to Andy and his segments of the story.  But before I knew it, I was invested in the lives of all of the characters in Coyote Winds.  By the end of the book, I shocked by how much I had come to like them.  The more I think about it, the more moved I am by this story.  It is raw and uncompromising at times, and Myles’ accounts of his childhood experiences are unflinchingly truthful.  From brutal rabbit hunts to disputes with the neighbor over proper farming techniques, Myles’ narrative POV is both unemotional and free of embellishment.  He’s just telling it like it is.  As he begins to realize how primitive life on the farm is, with no electricity or running water, he begins to question his father’s dedication to farming.  Is he just stubborn?  Can’t he see how difficult life in the middle of no where is, and how unhappy his mother and sister are?  While Myles loves the land, he longs for something more.

Ro, the coyote pup Myles rescues after a dust storm, also shares the story through his eyes. His point of view didn’t work as well for me, because I was so stressed that Bad Things would happen to him.  His chapters left me sad and depressed, because he kept longing for the things he would never have; a life among his own kind, and his brothers and sisters to play with.  His human pack didn’t understand him, and when Myles, in an effort to protect both his friend and Ro, chases him off, my heart broke for the little guy.

By the end of the book I was sobbing.  I don’t know why, other than each character had come to life for me, and had come to mean something to me.  Even the people I thought I couldn’t stand had shining moments of insight that made me understand their stance on farming and raising their families.  This is a book of broken dreams, but it’s also a story of  hope and the courage to attempt to make changes in your life.  While the farmland was harsh to Myles and his family, it was healing to Andy and his parents, and brought them closer together.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by the author

Interview with Soman Chainani, Author of The School For Good and Evil

Please welcome Soman Chainani to the virtual offices today.  Soman is here to chat about the School for Good and Evil, which releases today.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Soman Chainani] A professional storyteller by trade. Sensitive, intense, athletic, and a lover of all things fantastic and imaginative.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The School For Good and Evil?

[Soman Chainani] THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL is the first book in an epic new fantasy trilogy, which follows two heroines: gorgeous Sophie, with her waist-long blond hair and her dreams of becoming a princess — and her black-wearing friend Agatha, awkward and dour, who everyone thinks is a witch. But when they arrive at the School for Good and Evil, where children are trained to become fairy-tale heroes and villains, they’re put in the wrong schools. Sophie is dumped in Evil to learn Uglification, Death Curses, and other villainous arts, while Agatha finds herself at the School for Good amid handsome princes and fair maidens. But the question remains: Is it really a mistake?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Soman Chainani] I’ve been toying with versions of this story since I was 12. But it finally all congealed in my head one day when I was in London on a film project. I remember walking in Regents Park and I had the image of the two girls, one in pink, one in black, falling into the wrong schools. The entire story just opened up, as it had been there all along. I ended up 30 minutes late to my next meeting, just because I was ambling around, lost in the idea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sophie?

[Soman Chainani] Diva. Iconoclast. Charismatic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Agatha had a theme song, what would it be?

[Soman Chainani] “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sophie is never without.

[Soman Chainani] A homemade honeycream facial scrub

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Agatha’s school bag?

[Soman Chainani] No makeup. No change of clothes (she always wears black). No regrets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Soman Chainani] Madonna. Miyazaki. Classic Disney cartoons. Roald Dahl. Stanley Kubrick.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Soman Chainani] A hard workout before I start. A reclining chair. A lunch I’m looking forward to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Soman Chainani] A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. It made me cry in a café and I remember looking up after the last page and seeing the waiters giving me very concerned looks.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Soman Chainani] From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. I read that book every day for months and months. I loved the idea of being parentless in a museum. I still do!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Soman Chainani] I’m a tennis maniac. On another planet in an alternate universe, I’m a pro tennis player. If I’m not playing tennis or writing, I’m likely reading, watching movies, travelling or having a long dinner with friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Soman Chainani] My website is: www.somanchainani.net

Facebook.com/schoolforgoodandevil

Tumblr.com/somanchainani

Twitter @somanchainani

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The School for Good and Evil by clicking the links below:

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-school-for-good-and-evil-soman-chainani/1113200551

About the book:

At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Waiting on Wednesday – Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters by Diane Zahler

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I adore Diane Zahler’s fairytale retellings, so I had a major geek out when I saw the cover for her next release.  So pretty!  So magical!!  So I must read you now!!  Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters will be in stores August 2013 – I can’t wait!

 

 

Princesses Aurora and Luna have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents, the king and queen. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and, curiously, all sharp objects are forbidden from the castle.

But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.

Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up…for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

 

What are you waiting on?

Waiting on Wednesday–Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 

When a runaway princess throws her lot in with a couple of would-be dragon slayers, before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending enchanted horses, battling fire-breathing dragons, and learning more about herself than she ever expected…

 

What are you waiting on?

Interview with Helen Sedwick, Author of Coyote Winds and Giveaway!

Please welcome Helen Sedwick to the virtual offices today.  Helen’s novel, Coyote Winds, is set during one of the most devastating environmental calamities to befall the Midwest.  I find the Dust Bowl, and all of the heartbreaking challenges it presented, fascinating, so I am thrilled to have Helen here for a chat.  After the interview, please enter for a chance to win a copy of Coyote Winds!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Helen Sedwick] An intense redhead who’s spent her life balancing restlessness and responsibility.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Coyote Winds?

[Helen Sedwick] COYOTE WINDS follows the adventures of a boy and his coyote living on the prairie in the years leading up to the Dust Bowl. It explores the American spirit that drew families to the wind-swept frontier and the consequences of that spirit, both good and bad. And it asks whether that spirit can survive the over-supervised life of a modern boy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Helen Sedwick] I was inspired to write COYOTE WINDS by my father’s stories of growing up during the Dust Bowl. While there was plenty of blowing dust in his stories, he also talked about freedom and adventure. With the schools closed, he spent his days hunting rattlesnakes and rabbits. And driving at the age of 9. I wanted to contrast my father’s unfenced boyhood with the over-supervised life of a modern, suburban boy who “couldn’t ride a bike without a helmet, play soccer without pads, or ride in a car with a driver under thirty.”

As I researched the Dust Bowl, I discovered that it is a classic story about American optimism. Our can-do attitude drew families to the prairie with dreams of owning their own land. They plowed up millions of acres of native grassland. Then the wind did what it always did–blow. What followed was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in history, the Dust Bowl. COYOTE WINDS is about good families doing what they believed to be the right thing, only to have the results turn out so terribly wrong. I wanted to tell that story.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Myles?

[Helen Sedwick] Fun-loving, school-skipping punster.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Andy had a theme song, what would it be?

[Helen Sedwick] NO SUCH THING by John Mayer

“They love to tell you
Stay inside the lines
But something’s better
On the other side.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Myles is never without.

[Helen Sedwick] His Remington .22 rifle.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Andy’s pockets?

[Helen Sedwick] Andy is a 21st century suburban boy trapped in a life of rules.

At the beginning of the novel, he wouldn’t have a pen knife (too dangerous), an arrowhead (politically incorrect), or car keys (not until he has a B average, which means no time soon).

By the end of the novel, he has all three in his pockets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Myles’s greatest regret?

[Helen Sedwick] Trying to chop off the head of a live rattlesnake.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Helen Sedwick] I love the power of a story to make us laugh, cry, learn, believe, and connect with others over distance and time. Whenever I experience a new story, whether it be in a book, a film, or a play, I am inspired to write more.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Helen Sedwick] Characters I love.

A vague yearning to express.

Time alone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Helen Sedwick] Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Helen Sedwick] Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. If this 19th Century novel could move a 20th Century Manhattan girl, that says something.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Helen Sedwick] Hike the granite outcroppings of the Sierras.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Helen Sedwick] My website: www.helensedwick.com

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/helensedwickauthor

I also welcome emails at Helen@helensedwick.com.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Here’s the trailer for the book:

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Coyote Winds? Just will out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the book:

When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame the untamable. Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie. Inspired by her father’s tales of growing up during the Dust Bowl, Sedwick weaves insight, humor, historical details and unforgettable characters into a coming-of-age story that reminds us that chasing a dream, even if it brings heartache, is far better than not dreaming at all.

 

About the Author:

Helen Sedwick is the author of COYOTE WINDS. A finalist in the 2011 Mainstream Fiction Writer’s Digest Competition and the Lorian Hemmingway Short Story Contest, Helen Sedwick recently won second place in the Redwood Writers Flash Fiction Contest for a piece adapted from COYOTE WINDS. She is a lawyer and lives in the Sonoma wine country with Howard Klepper, a builder of handcrafted guitars, and an exuberant hound dog named Farlow. For more info, http://www.helensedwick.com.

Interview with Marissa Burt, Author of Story’s End

Marissa Burt is making another visit to the virtual offices, this time to discuss Story’s End, which hits store shelves next week.  I loved Storybound, and have been waiting impatiently for Story’s End.  I thought it would be fun to ask Marissa a few more questions while I wait for Story’s End’s release, and she gracefully agreed. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Story’s End?

[Marissa Burt] Story’s End picks up at Storybound’s cliffhanger ending, where Una and her friends now know the truth of Story’s backstory and must determine what they will do in light of that knowledge.  Story’s End is a bit darker, because everything is cast in the light of the Tale Master’s lies.  We don’t spend any time in Perrault classes.  Instead, each character must do their part to save story from the threat of enemies.  I’m so eager for readers to meet a few new characters, journey to different districts, and discover more about Una, Snow, Peter, Sam, and Indy!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Was this a more difficult book to write than Storybound?

[Marissa Burt] This is a great question.  Creatively, it was a more straight-forward book to write, since I had a stronger grasp of the direction of the story.  Storybound was very much a patchwork affair, where I wrote different scenes as they came to me, and then I pieced them all together like a puzzle.  In that sense, Story’s End had much more of an outline ad internal structure, which was easier than Storybound.  But there were also more internal rules. I had to make sure new plot points, settings, and characters fit in with the already established rules of the world.  Writing-wise, it’s probably a tie: both books had their specific challenges and joys.  The real tie-breaker is the fact that when I wrote Storybound, I had one child.  By the time I was drafting Story’s End, I had two more babies.  I can now say with some authority that writing a novel while tending three children under the age of four is not advisable – haha!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you feel when you submitted your final revisions for Story’s End?

[Marissa Burt] It was a delightful feeling!  Not only was I so pleased with the end result, but finishing a second book shored up some of those insecurities that plague writers and ask: Can you really do it again?  I was also a bit sad to say goodbye to my friends in Story.  We’ve spent many hours together, and it’s hard to imagine their tale coming to an end.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What has been the biggest change in your life now that you are a published author?

[Marissa Burt] I suppose the biggest change is that I am more diligent to make space for writing.  Before, I approached it more like a hobby and wrote "when I felt like it."  Now, I’m learning to grow the discipline of writing regularly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did Una change from when we first met her in Storybound?

[Marissa Burt] I love this question!  I have such a soft-spot for Una.  She doesn’t even know how courageous she is. The opening line of Storybound is: Una often imagined she was invisible.  She is unseen, unnoticed, adrift, and lonely.  Her adventures in Story give her a rootedness in her own identity, so that by the end of the Tale, we see she has a sense of belonging.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Peter had a theme song, what would it be?

[Marissa Burt] Haha!  I think Peter would be heavily influenced by Sam, who would no doubt suggest, "The Eye of the Tiger."  I get the impression Peter would never ‘fess up to having a theme song.  I have a feeling he’d secretly listen to country music – or maybe Taylor Swift? – and then fervently deny it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Una is never without.

[Marissa Burt] Hmmm… Una journeys quite a bit in Book 2, and she travels light, so I’m not sure there’s any article she’s never without.  I suppose she is never without a sense of confidence.  I love that when she decides to do something, even if she thinks it might be dangerous, she just goes for it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Una’s greatest regret?

[Marissa Burt] I’ll have to dance around this one a bit, because it’s spoilerish, but her biggest regret has to do with her choices that expose to Story to threats from an enemy.  This happens some in Storybound but also in Story’s End.  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Marissa Burt] Just yesterday I finished re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra.  It’s always been my least favorite in his space trilogy, but, for some reason, this time through I fell in love with it.  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us about your next project?

[Marissa Burt] I’m just beginning a new fantasy tentatively titled THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN.  It follows a girl named Wren whose interest in Astronomy leads her to discover that she can wield the magic of stardust. On her adventure, she and her friend Simon, discover that the fate of the world rests on their ability to unravel the secrets hidden in Mother Goose Rhymes.  I’m having fun building a new fantasy-world that has a tinge of scifi to it.  As of now, the plan is for There Was a Crooked Man to be out from HarperChildren’s in 2014, with a sequel to follow in 2015.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Marissa Burt] I love to hear from readers!  They may find me on twitter, facebook, goodreads, or through my website

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can order Story’s End from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

About the book:

Inkheart meets The Neverending Story in the sweeping sequel to Storybound. A deadly Enemy has returned to the magical land of Story—and twelve-year-old Una Fairchild may hold the key to defeating him.

Long ago, a King ruled the land of Story….During his reign, Heroes, Villains, and characters of all kinds lived out Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles. Then the King disappeared, and over the years nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed.

Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story. And an ordinary girl from our world named Una Fairchild must find a way to defeat him.

Una and her friends Indy and Peter set off on a quest for answers, facing warlocks, beasts, and enchantments at every turn. But Una soon discovers that the real key lies in her own mysterious ties to Story’s past—and to the long-forgotten King who may be their only hope for survival.

Storybound has been praised by Kirkus Reviews for its “richly imagined world” and by Publishers Weekly as “an appealing fantasy with strong writing and interesting characters.” Story’s End is filled with the same breathtaking action, heartwarming friendship, and timeless appeal. Readers will leap at the chance to return to this captivating fairy-tale world, which is perfect for fans of Inkheart, Gail Carson Levine, and classics like A Wrinkle in Time.

About the Author:

About the author: Marissa Burt was forever getting notes sent home from teachers about reading novels during class. She grew up in Oregon, and drifted eastward through Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, and South Carolina before coming back to the Pacific Northwest. She now lives in the Seattle area with her husband and three sons. You can visit Marissa online at www.marissaburt.com.

Interview with Claire M Caterer, Author of The Key and the Flame

Claire M Caterer is our special guest today.  Please welcome her to the virtual offices!  Claire is here to chat about her MG release, The Key and The Flame, which hits shelves in April.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Claire M Caterer] I love great stories in all forms; music I can sing to; animals of all sizes; travel & nature. Mostly introverted, sometimes a showoff.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Key and the Flame?

[Claire M Caterer] Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard, who leads a very ho-hum kind of life, receives a strange gift from an elderly British caretaker. The gift is just an old iron key, but when Holly discovers an ancient tree that contains a keyhole, she finds that her key unlocks the portal to a medieval world of danger and magic. Along with her brother Ben and their new friend Everett, Holly travels there, and the kids find themselves locked in a battle for their lives as a ruthless king attempts to wipe out all the magic in the land. It’s the first in a five-part series, the second book of which will come out in summer 2014.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Claire M Caterer] The forest is a magical place to me—huddled in its own ecosystem, cut off from the world, quiet and green. One day on one of my favorite walks, I came upon an incredible tree and thought, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this were a portal to somewhere fantastic and magical.” Holly as a character grew naturally out of the plot, because she is a person who can be very quiet in the natural world and listen for the things that other people miss. She shares some qualities with me, including her eyeglass prescription. I identify with Ben in other ways, particularly his allergy to horses.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Holly?

[Claire M Caterer] outsider, adventurous, honorable

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Holly had a theme song, what would it be?

[Claire M Caterer] The best I can come up with is an old Cole Porter song—“Don’t Fence Me In.” Holly’s not a cowboy, but that is her ethic. She just wants to be free to be herself, not to be hobbled or tied down to convention.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Holly won’t leave home without.

[Claire M Caterer] Her compass. Holly needs to know where she’s going, and she trusts science and nature to get her there. It takes her quite awhile to trust her magic in the same way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Holly’s most prized possession?

[Claire M Caterer] Her magic key. What this key opens, and what the key becomes, makes it her most prized possession. It is her power.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Claire M Caterer] As a kid I read and reread The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I also loved Roald Dahl, J.R.R. Tolkien, E. B. White, and Madeleine L’Engle. And there are so many others!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Claire M Caterer] Ideally I need quiet, my cup of coffee, and my computer. While I can write longhand, I love the convenience of having the delete key! The coffee is more of a crutch than a tool. I like to have the cup next to me, but if I really get going it just sits there and gets cold. As for quiet, some noise is all right, but I absolutely cannot write if there’s music playing. I get caught up in the music and can’t get immersed in my imaginary world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Claire M Caterer] A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness—I read it last summer. I was able to crawl right inside that character and feel what he was feeling. The pencil drawings are exquisite—so evocative. I loved that marriage of illustration and text. The writing is sharp, beautiful, horrifying. And it made me cry, which most books don’t.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Claire M Caterer] That’s tough, because I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. But there was a marvelous book that’s out of print now called The Hidden Cave by Ruth Chew, about some kids who found a cave in an old sewer pipe in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. In the cave they found Merlin the magician, who led them on some interesting magical adventures. Ruth Chew was a wonderful writer of short middle-grade fantastic fiction, and she drew her own illustrations, which I liked. I probably started reading her books in second grade and couldn’t get enough of them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Claire M Caterer] I read as much as I can. I don’t watch a lot of television but am very devoted to the shows I do watch, especially British comedy and drama. I also love going on outings with my daughter. We go to parks and nature trails and the arboretum and botanical gardens whenever we can. I like to wander.

I love to travel, but don’t do as much as I’d like. Otherwise, I’m home with my dogs. I crank up something like the soundtrack to Mamma Mia! and dance around the house.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Claire M Caterer] I love talking with readers, and they can find me at my new-fangled website and blog, my Facebook and Twitter pages, and on Goodreads. They can also email me to ask questions or just to chat at readerchat [at] cmcaterer.com.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can pre-order The Key and the Flame from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the links below:

 

About the book:

Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard wants nothing more than to seek adventure outside of her humdrum American life. She gets her chance at last when her family travels to England and Holly receives an unusual gift: an iron key that unlocks a passage to the dangerous kingdom of Anglielle, where magic is outlawed and those who practice magic are hunted. When her friend Everett and brother Ben are captured by Anglielle’s ruthless king, Holly must rescue them. But that means finding—and using—the magic within herself and learning which magical allies she can trust.

The Key & the Flame is the first in a brand-new fantasy adventure series for ages 8 and up.

Waiting on Wednesday–Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I’m kind of scared to read Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson because I will be worried that something bad happens to the dogs, but I am fascinated by the premise.  Long wait on this one!

Hits stores February 2014

Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods, is entirely up to her. Author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.

What are you waiting on?