I have the please of hosting Janet Fox on the blog today for The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle blog tour. I am a horrible interviewer, but she has taken the time to answer my questions with kindness and patience, and I love her for it. But first, book info and a special video from the publisher.
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox
Published by Viking Books For Young Readers on March 15th 2016
Genres: middle grade, fantasy
Source: Book Tour
Buy on Amazon
That’s what Katherine Bateson’s father told her, and that’s what she’s trying to do: when her father goes off to the war, when her mother sends Kat and her brother and sister away from London to escape the incessant bombing, even when the children arrive at Rookskill Castle, an ancient, crumbling manor on the misty Scottish highlands.
But it’s hard to keep calm in the strange castle that seems haunted by ghosts or worse. What’s making those terrifying screeches and groans at night? Why do the castle’s walls seem to have a mind of their own? And why do people seem to mysteriously appear and disappear?
Kat believes she knows the answer: Lady Eleanor, who rules Rookskill Castle, is harboring a Nazi spy. But when her classmates begin to vanish, one by one, Kat must uncover the truth about what the castle actually harbors—and who Lady Eleanor really is—before it's too late.
Where did you get the idea for The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle?
That’s a great story. I’m going to tell you a little bit of it, and then discuss it in more depth later on the tour.
I was online – just hanging out – when a friend of mine posted a picture of a piece of jewelry. I stared at it, instantly mesmerized. It was a 17th century German chatelaine with 12 charms, and those charms looked weird. The more I stared the weirder they looked.
At that point, the entire novel came into my head, almost complete – including the setting and time period, and most importantly Kat, my main character. I wrote the first draft really fast – although it went through a long revision process.
Please describe what the book is about in 1-2 sentences.
When Kat Bateson and her brother and sister are sent to a Scottish castle-turned-school at the start of World War 2, they believe it will be a refuge from the London Blitz bombs. But the castle is creepy; spies may be in hiding; and the Lady who runs the school is not what she seems – and Kat discovers that all the children are in mortal danger.
Your protagonist Katherine is intelligent, a little bossy, and more driven than most kids her age are. Did you have an idea of what your character would be like before you started writing, and is there some of you in her?
Ha! Yes, I imagine a bit of Kat lives inside me. Unlike Kat, I’m not a math wiz; but like her, I love clocks and mysteries, and solving puzzles. And my sister would probably say I can be a little bossy. When the story came into my mind, Kat did, too, and she was a really complete character from very early on, taking charge of the story and of the problems she faces.
Where do you write? What does it look like? Maybe share a photo?
I write in an open gallery in the second floor of our home. I love it because it’s filled with light and great views of the mountains. It also has lots of space for my desk and books and even a bit of room for my treadmill desk, which I love.
This is your first middle grade novel? What made you switch age categories, and was The Charmed Children always envisioned as a middle grade novel?
The minute I began writing, THE CHARMED CHILDREN was very much middle grade, and it was because Kat was very much a middle grade character. I couldn’t have written the story any other way. Now, I still love writing YA. I have two YA novels underway. But YA is very different, and I love writing about middle grade problems and experiences – and the fantasy world that is so much a part of my own middle grade memories.
Tea or Coffee? What is your drink of choice when writing? What about snacks?
Oh, coffee. In fact, very strong coffee. I only drink two cups a day because I love it so strong. I’m a big water drinker. I exercise every morning, so I fill the rest of my day with water. I don’t tend to snack much but when I do, it has to be chocolate. Dark chocolate.
What’s your favorite film? Do you have a favorite book? If so, what is it?
All-time favorite? Wow. Zowee. Okay, it’s a toss-up between Casablanca and Galaxy Quest. But then there’s also Avatar and Titanic…and Guardians of the Galaxy…and…and…And I’m not gonna even try with the favorite book because that’s impossible.
The Charmed Children seems like it could be continued in another book. Will it be? And what’s next on your plate?
It could be continued. Quite possibly continued. I am in fact working on a potential sequel. It involves Kat and an ancient watch, and new friends including a mean girl, and…But that’s all a secret, okay?
Otherwise, I’m also working on two YA novels, and two MG novels, and my agent is shopping a picture book. I like keeping busy.
My Brain on Books–Guest post & Video #1–03/14/16
Word Spelunking–Top 10 List & Video #2–03/15/16
The Book Wars–Guest post & Video #3–03/16/16
Great Imaginations–Interview & Video #4–03/17/16
As They Grow Up–Giveaway & Video #5–03/18/16
Middle Grade Mafioso–Interview & Video #6–03/21/16
Pop! Goes the Reader–Guest post & video #7–03/22/16
MuggleNet–Interview & Video #8–03/23/16
YA Books Central–Giveaway & Video #9–03/24/16
The Reading Nook Review–Top 10 list & Video #10–03/25/16
Chapter By Chapter–Top 10 list & Video #11–03/28/16
The Hiding Spot–Giveaway & Video #12–03/29/16