I’m so excited to introduce you to Tania Unsworth’s main character and basic facilitator of the middle grade fantasy Brightwood – “Brilliantly conceived . . . entertaining and heartfelt.” —Kirkus Reviews
Meet Daisy – an imaginative and determined girl who is willing to fight for the only home she’s ever known.
Hi, Daisy! It’s great to meet you.
It’s great to be here. Thank you very much.
Tell the readers about Brightwood Hall, the only home you’ve ever known.
I love my home. It’s filled with treasures and secret passageways and enough supplies to last us just about forever. Sometimes I go down the driveway and look through the gates at the outside world, and wonder what other people’s houses are like. I was born in this house, and I’ve never been out, not even once. As for my rat, he’s called Tar, and he’s not really mine. He appears when he wants food, which is most of the time because he is obsessed with eating. Tar is very chatty. I know he can’t really talk, but he seems to. It’s hard to explain. As for the ‘explorer ghost’, her name is Frank, and she’s not really a ghost at all . . .
Whoa . . . you just blindsided me with the end of that response. I am so intrigued! What are some of your favorite things and ways to pass the time?
Brightwood is full of animals. I like feeding and looking after them. My favorites are the peacocks. Years and years ago, there were only two of them. Now there are dozens of them running around wild.
They run around wild? That must be funny.
I also like cooking – I taught myself from books in the library. Our basement is filled up with hundreds of boxes of food and groceries, so I can always find the ingredients I need. I go to school every day in the ballroom. My mum teaches me. Sometimes I wonder whether my life is different – even strange. But I don’t have anything to compare it to. Do other kids do their lessons in a ballroom? I just don’t know…
It must have felt strange being alone in the house when Mr. Gritting first arrived. What did you think of him?
When my mum didn’t come back, I tried not to worry, although she’d never been late home before. I kept telling myself there was a reasonable explanation, but when she hadn’t returned by evening, I knew something bad must’ve happened. I was scared when Mr. Gritting arrived in his car. Apart from my mum, I’d never seen another person in my life before.
This must have been so hard for you. You are a strong girl, Daisy.
I wanted to trust him, I really did. And he seemed quite friendly to begin with. But something about him didn’t seem right. Maybe it was the way he acted – as if he owned the place.. Or maybe it was the moment he said, “I have to take care of you” that made me realize the truth. Mr. Gritting was not my friend, and he wasn’t going to help me. He was planning to do the exact opposite.
Would you share something you learned about yourself throughout this book journey?
I’ve learned I’m braver than I knew.
A door creaks open and someone shuffles into the room.
Oh my gosh! What a lovely surprise! Tania, your creator, is here.
Daisy, care to share what you really think of your creator? *I smile, and she smiles back.*
Okay. I think she was a little bit like me when she was a kid. She made things up – people and places – and they seemed real to her, even though she knew they weren’t. When you’re a child it’s far easier to believe two opposite things at the same time. I happen to know that she had an imaginary friend, whom she blamed whenever she got into trouble. One day, during a long drive, she blamed him for pinching her sister on the leg. Her father stopped the car and told him to get out, and that was the last she ever saw of him. As far as she knows he’s still there, on the side of the road.
Haha! I think I really like her father. It was wonderful meeting you, Daisy. Best of luck on your future adventures. Thank you for joining us. I’m going to chat with Tania for a minute.
Hi Tania! I’m thrilled you’ve dropped by, again. Real quick, tells us your favorite thing about writing this book.
I got very fond of Frank. Even when I’d finished the book she refused to go away. When a reader sent me a letter telling me how much she liked BRIGHTWOOD, I felt compelled to answer as if I was Frank. And for nearly a year, Frank persisted in sending this reader at least a dozen further letters, recounting her adventures with Sir Clarence in the Amazonian jungle. I had to really put my foot down before she finally stopped.
That is very cool! It’s wonderful you have such a strong connection to Frank. I’m sure the lucky recipient reader loved this.
What can your readers expect next from you?
My latest book THE GIRL WHO THOUGHT HER MOTHER WAS A MERMAID, will be published in July 2018 by Zephyr/Head of Zeus. As you might guess from the title, it’s a mermaid story, but with a dark and unexpected twist…American readers can preorder it on amazon.co.uk
Ooh, sounds like a fantastical read kids (& adults like me) will love! Best of luck to you always. Thanks to you and Daisy for spending time with us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tania Unsworth is the author of THE ONE SAFE PLACE, BRIGHTWOOD, and THE GIRL WHO THOUGHT HER MOTHER WAS A MERMAID. She moved from the UK in her twenties, and now lives with her family in Boston, Mass. Find her on her Website and Twitter.