Books are a forest and it’s hard to see the trees, except the tall ones or the old ones. But when you enter the forest, it’s the new growth that emits the sunlight....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Hop

The following is a list of questions in a Tag Game for Writers sent to me by writer friend, Janie Wilder Bill.  At her blog, she tells about her Work in Progress, Under a Full Moon, a young adult mystery centering on a crime committed near a lagoon. 

Because Halloween is coming, I am answering about my middle grade Halloween fantasy.

What is the working title of your book?

The House in Windward Leaves

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The House in Windward Leaves began as a short story that I wrote for a Halloween storytelling at The Loft literary center in Minneapolis.  A block away from where I lived in Minneapolis was a brick house whose walls and windows were streaming with leaves, stunning in the fall.  Apparently, the owners liked looking at the leaves outside their windows, if anyone lived there.  My idea began with the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, a question that is so speculative that it might be best if kids could somehow try out their ideas.  In the book, the children are enchanted to a star community where costumes make the kids.

What genre does your book fall under?

Middle grade fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If this were to be filmed, I see it as animation first.  But it could be filmed with actors and that might make it more amusing.  I see Mistral the Enchanter part as an older actor, not very tall, and capable of doing the eccentric character, maybe a Richard Dreyfuss type or possibly a Robin Williams.  Ideally, it would be a small man.  I’m not sure about the child parts except that I think they should be children.  Riff Raff the thief - Jim Carrey? – but he might be too tall for the other characters.  Matilda is orange-haired and cat-like.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The wayward Sadie leads her friends into an enchantment where their Halloween costumes become real.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The House inWindward Leaves is my first published book, the only one self-published so far.   At this time, I am considering another printing with illustrations.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This took some months, probably six to eight months.  Actually, I wrote it many years ago and then rewrote it in the last few years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Beyond its being a fantasy, The House in Windward Leaves is a satire or comedy.  I would say it came from the inspiration of Roald Dahl and that it has identity issues that appear in the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis.  The characters feel they must fulfill a role, and that causes conflict with their sense of identity.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I always loved Halloween and especially Halloween parties.  Yet before I ever blocked in writing, I used to block at the choice of a Halloween costume.  I wanted to do something creative but once in that costume, it seemed to affect the entire evening, especially at college and adult parties. 

I was never much for acting but I spent time in the orchestra pit, playing flute and piccolo for musical theatre in high school, college, and in the Twin Cities.  It was remarkable to me that actors could live these roles in their costumes.  

The House in Windward Leaves has more moments of humor than horror while the horror on Mistral the Enchanter’s  star is its static state.  What would happen if you were stuck in your costume? That's a horror adults know.  After all, aren't our fantasy identities a part of us?  The idea is that our fantasies really do affect our futures.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

As mentioned before, this book is set up a little like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Narnia books.  There are six main child characters, and because each of them is different, one’s adventures might be an identification point during the enchantment. 

Sadie is impatient about the future so she dresses as a Fortuneteller.  Gretchen doesn’t care about her costume and, because her nun’s snood is lost, goes trick or treating as a Priest.  Roger is political, Ben wants to toot his trumpet in the neighborhood, Tim is athletic and would like to run as fast as a zebra, and Candy really wants to be Homecoming Queen someday.  Other characters of Halloween magic are in the enchanted community along with the thief Riff Raff who instigates a treasure hunt for the necklace he stole.  This hunt becomes madcap as many of the enchanted characters would rather have the prize of a new wish rather than maintain their costume identities.

I now tag the following world-great writer pals!

Elizabeth Marcus

John Campbell

Gerry McCullough

John Booth

Catherine Condie