Paul Durham’s critically acclaimed debut middle grade novel was named an ALA Notable Book and won the Cybil Award for Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Rejoice, faithful fans. Book Two of the series brims with yet more adventure, secrets, friendship, and magic.
In the new book, illustrated by Petur Antonsson, hero Rye O’Chanter has been declared a criminal in her own village, and must flee to the strange and remote Isle of Pest while her father faces off against the Luck Uglies’ bitterest rivals, the Fork-Tongue Charmers, on the mainland. But all bets are off when the battle moves to the shores of Pest. To defeat the Fork-Tongue Charmers, Rye must defy a deranged earl, survive a test meant to judge the grit of the fiercest men, and lead the charge in defending the island against a strangely familiar enemy, which means uncovering some long-buried family secrets. . . .
Paul stopped by to chat about the question students most often ask him:
Where do your ideas come from?
I wish I could tell my young readers about the little voices that whisper to me in quiet moments, or the foggy images and fractured sentences that fade in and out of the darkened screen of my eyelids as I drift off for a nap. I’d love to describe my absolute favorite moments as a writer. Those elusive times at the start of a new project when ideas fall furiously from the sky like hail, and all I can do is rush around with a bucket and collect as many as possible before they melt and disappear. But would that help them understand me any better?
I’ve talked with many artists and creative professionals about their processes, and the closest comparison I can find are to composers and songwriters. While I can comprehend how instruments are played, lyrics are written, and vocals recorded, I cannot fathom where an original melody or hook comes from. A songwriter friend once told me that it just comes to him like a passing thought. Maybe that’s no more helpful than saying it falls like hail from the sky, but at least I understand what he means. My conclusion is that the most creative ideas come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
For me, that’s the beauty and magic of what we do as authors. When we do our jobs well, we are magicians who conjure something from nothing. Even if we could articulate our secrets, perhaps it’s best that such trickery remains unshared.
Paul is giving away three sets of books one and two! Conjure up some luck and enter below.