Monday, August 25, 2014

Child of Two Cultures, by Lou Anders, Author of Frostborn

It's my pleasure to introduce our readers to Lou Anders, Hugo award winning editorial director of Pyr Books, and author of Frostborn.  

Child of Two Cultures

Your mammas not American. She doesnt look American.

Those words were said to my son by another little boy on his little league team. I didnt know until afterwards, or I would have had a few things to say. About how long my wife worked to become American. About the interviews, the exams, the travel, the expense. About how maybe working your tail off for something counted more than just being handed it at birth. But really all I should have addressed is that absurd idea that theres a single American look.

When the President was elected, a family friend, who Im pretty sure voted against him and doesnt like his politics very much, nonetheless wrote to say how glad she was that my children had a biracial man in the highest office in the land to inspire them. I appreciated her words, particularly her choice of the word biracial. Not just a black man, which was historic enough, but a biracial man.

Frostborn is my first book, so you can imagine it means a lot to me. But mixed in with all that debut author excitement is my happiness at being able to give a gift to my children. I wanted to write a story that my kids could see themselves reflected in, a story for boys and girls both. My son is an obsessive gamer, and so, too, Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. You dont have video games in the year 986 AG in the land of NorrΓΈngard, so he plays a board game called Thrones & Bones every chance he gets. My daughter is a tornado. Shes the youngest by several years, but I frequently have to order her to quit pounding on him. For her, I wanted to write a girl a strong female character, someone who was absolutely a co-lead, not simply relegated to the role of sidekick. And while Karn is a blond haired, blue eyed lad of what wed equate with Scandinavian stock, Thianna is a child of two cultures. Her father is a frost giant, and her mother hails fromwell, thats actually a secret in book one, but her dark hair, dark eyes, and olive complexion hint at what wed call a Mediterranean heritage.

Thianna is also seven feet tall. Which you might think is pretty big for a twelve year old, but in the frost giant village where she lives, its actually pretty short. Her darker appearance and her size mark her as different from her peers, and several of themone in particularmake her life miserable as a result. How she deals with this, as well as her own struggle to appreciate the differences she has always despised, is why I think so many readers are already embracing her so fiercely. I think struggles to fit in, or not to, resonate with all of us, whether our eyes are blue or brown. And as I write this Im realizing I didnt just write Frostborn for my own kids. I wrote it for that little boy in Little League who thinks theres only one kind of American. I hope Frostborn is a better response than the one I would have given that day.

Lou Anders's research on Norse mythology while writing Frostborn turned into a love affair with Viking culture and a first visit to Norway. He hopes the series will appeal to boys and girls equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over 500 articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. Frostborn, which Publishers Weekly described as thoroughly enjoyable (starred review), is his first middle grade novel. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at and, on Facebook, and on Twitter at @ThronesandBones

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Interview with Mary G. Thompson, author of Evil Fairies Love Hair

Today it’s my pleasure to interview fellow Enchanted Inkpot member, Mary G. Thompson, about her latest novel, EVIL FAIRIES LOVE HAIR!

Here’s a brief description:
What if you could get your fondest wish? You could be gorgeous, brilliant, a star athlete, or a great singer, or you could put a hex on your worst enemy. And all you have to do is raise a flock of two-inch-tall fairies. Easy, right?
            Ali learns this the hard way when her flock starter fairies get to work. Raising them means feeding them, and what they eat is hair. Lots and lots of human hair.
            Where to get the hair is Ali’s first challenge. What about the beauty salon? Easy, right? . . .
            Before long, Ali’s friends, classmates, teachers, sister, and parents are entangled with the evil fairies, who have their own grandiose and sinister agenda. It’s up to Ali to overcome these magical troublemakers and set things right.

Hi Mary! First, let me tell you how much I loved EVIL FAIRIES LOVE HAIR! What a unique spin on fairy lore.  We have seen many types of fairies in children’s literature, but none like this one! The fairies were deliciously evil, yucky and hysterical – and I don’t think I’ve ever used those words to describe the same thing before! Where did you come up with the idea of these sneaky, hair loving fairies praying on the deepest hopes and wishes of children?

Like most of my ideas, the fairies sort of popped into existence out of nowhere. I was on the subway one night and the title “Evil Fairies Love Hair” popped into my mind. I wrote the opening scene in my notebook on the way home. The idea of growing fairies by feeding them hair seemed perfectly natural to me, and who wouldn’t do it for their fondest wish? I’d probably do it for nothing.

I would too! And I love the title by the way!  

I was immediately captivated by the richly painted fairy world, with all of its rules – including a contract and a rule book!  How did you create this fairy society?  What was your world building process like?

Well, being evil, the fairies had to have a scheming leader, in this case, the pompous and self-aggrandizing Bunniumpton, who likes to be called “Grand Miss Coiffure.” But I liked the idea that even though the fairies have magic, they don’t really control anything about the magical world. They are subject to rules just as much as the kids are, and the rules of the magical world are mysterious and nonsensical to us mortals. I wanted to create a world in which nobody can ever truly get the upper hand. If you think you have things under control, you will be humorously knocked off your pedestal. The adults have no idea what the kids are doing, the kids have no idea what the fairies are really doing, and the fairies are doing magic they don’t fully understand. So my world building was all about ensuring that everyone had just enough information so that all the right things could go wrong. The whole world is saying, “don’t take yourselves too seriously.”

I loved Ali, the protagonist, and I’m sure readers will easily relate to her and her insecurities. Who hasn’t lived in a shadow of a star sibling or friend?  And Michael was such a great contrast to her. All of the characters were so well developed.  Which character in the novel do you relate to the most?  And which one was the hardest to write?

It would be hard to deny that Ali is sort of based on me. Everyone who knows me exclaims that the cover looks exactly like me! Unlike Ali, I never had a problem with my grades, but my fondest wish would be to be smarter. You can never be smart enough, in my opinion. I wouldn’t say any of the characters were hard to write. Maybe the perfect little girl who torments Bunny. I hated her too!

In this book nothing as it seems.  The good kids aren’t really as good as you think, and the bad kids aren’t really as bad as you (and the adults!) think, and the adults that are supposed to be keeping an eye on the kids are clueless. There are so many twists and turns, and yet it is such a funny story.  I laughed out loud many times while reading this!  Was it hard to keep track of it all and weave the fantasy, humor and exciting plot together?

I wouldn’t really say it was hard. Humor, if it works, just sort of happens in the flow of things. Most of the adults’ cluelessness and the plot twists came from what seemed funny to me and what made me laugh. 

I loved watching Ali learn that she had to rely on herself and her own cleverness to foil the evil fairy plot. To me, the real magic occurs when she believes in herself.  This is far from a preachy book, but is there something in particular you would like readers to take away from the novel?

The truth is, I just want people to laugh. Yeah, believe in yourself, don’t believe magical creatures, be true to your friends … but mostly, laugh!

Well, I certainly laughed while reading the book, and I’m sure everyone else will, too! As the story progressed, the kids in the book re-evaluated what a wish is worth, what the price is, and if they really wanted their wish to come true.  The book explores the idea of careful what you wish for – you just might get it.  If those evil fairies gave you one wish, what would it be?

If I had to stick to the fairies’ list of options, I’d wish to be smarter. Like Ali says in the book, don’t go wasting your wish on a hex! If you’re smart, you can find a way to get all your other wishes.

Very good advice! What are you working on now? (if you feel comfortable sharing that)

I have many irons in the fire. Watch this space!

We will! Thanks so much, Mary!