The Key and the Flame by Claire Caterer!

Today at The Mixed-Up Files we have a bonus post!  We are lucky enough to be included in the blog tour for Claire Caterer’s The Key and the Flame which just released on April 2nd!

the key and the flame

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.



Me:  So where did you get the idea for this awesome book?

Claire:  The idea of trees as sentries and guardians has always resonated with me. Trees are strong, and they inspire a reverence that is central to The Key & the Flame. I was walking in the woods one day and felt that awe wash over me. The story of a great tree serving as the passage to a simpler, less industrialized world came to me quite suddenly out of that experience.

Me:  That’s awesome!  Kind of reminds me of the Ents in Lord of the Rings.  What is your writing day like?  Do you have a routine?

Claire:  My ideal writing routine is to write first thing in the morning, before I check email or social media, when my mind is still a little fuzzy with dreams. Coffee is essential, though. It’s my crutch. But failing that, I have written at any time of day in many settings. Sometimes it’s good to get out of my office and go to a coffee shop or the library. Breaking the routine can spark something new on the page.

Me:   As a mom of three, I can vouch for how much easier it is to write in a cafe!  Speaking of cafes….do you prefer vanilla or chocolate? Cupcakes or Twizzlers? Unicorns and glitter or aliens and slime?  Okay, that one was a little unrelated 😉

Claire:  If it’s ice cream, vanilla. I adore vanilla in all its complexity. But I love candy bars and especially melted chocolate.  I’d take cupcakes over Twizzlers, but I do love all kinds of sweets. I’d steal a Twizzler on my way out the door after eating the cupcake.  I confess, I tend to favor unicorns over aliens, though I go back and forth. But unicorns need some darkness, and aliens need something redemptive, or both get boring.

Me:   With the exception of the vanilla ice cream, my sentiments exactly!  So why middle grade?  Why write for 8-12 year olds?

Claire:  I love middle grade because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even in the darkest Harry Potter books, there’s a lot of humor. Middle grade is the time of life when you’re reaching, discovering, and becoming, and despite all of that, you’re still hanging on to your ideals—and sometimes, your teddy bear.

Me:  I couldn’t agree more.  Thanks Claire!

The blog tour concludes tomorrow with a chat and a giveaway at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia! Get the full blog tour schedule right here.


Claire M. Caterer was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City. A writer from the age of five, Claire has published fiction in Woman’s World magazine as well as in Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines. She holds a degree in French from the University of Kansas and spent several years working in New York publishing. Today she is back in the Kansas City metro area, where she writes full time and shares her home with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a host of imaginary friends. The Key & the Flame is her first novel.

You can visit Claire’s website or find her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.  You can purchase The Key and the Flame at Amazon.  

Or….you can win a copy right here on The Mixed-Up Files!

Just enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amie Borst writes twisted middle-grade fairy tales with her very own middle-grader.  Their first book, Cinderskella, releases October 2013.

  1. Love the idea of trees as sentries because they have been around so much longer than a living person during the same time frame. Also like the personal info about writing.

  2. I can’t wait to read it(:

  3. This book is on my never ending tbr must read list. It sounds like something I will seriously enjoy.

  4. This book looks really good, and the interview was a lot of fun to read. I have to agree with her on the unicorns and aliens thing though, as I am with her, it gets boring if they are all good or all bad.

  5. Awesome interview!

    It’s lovely that the author & I both feel the same way about trees. They provide a passageway to a different world 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing some good advice. I’m more of a night-owl, and get most of my energy writing after midnight. But like the idea of doing some in the morning and NOT opening up my e-mail.
    The new story sounds awesome, a new must-read on my list now.

  7. I’m an Englishman who traveled to America, so I’d like to see how Holly accomplishes it, going the other way round. Sounds like a great story!

    Fun interview too.

  8. Love the premise!

  9. A chapter book celebrating trees sounds awesome!

  10. Loved what you said about JL Fiction of being able to have humor in even the most serious of parts in a book! 🙂

  11. Sounds like a great book. I loved the comment about trees feeling like Guardians. I pictured the ents as well. I always prefer to feel like the trees are on my side.

  12. I enjoyed the interview. Love the cover and looking forward to a good read.

  13. Great interview. I need my coffee first thing in the morning too. I need to follow Claire’s advice to start by writing instead of social networking. I’d love to win a copy of her book. It sounds fantastic.

  14. Great interview and fun responses to the questions!
    Looks like a great read. Love the cover art.