Posts Tagged Janet Fox

Interview With Janet Fox, Author of The Artifact Hunters

The Artifact Hunters is one of my favorite books of 2020. So I immediately called dibs on an interview with Janet Fox for MUF. This sequel to THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE combines historical fiction and magic in a fast-paced adventure full of twists and turns.

Let’s get to it!

1. Tell us about The Artifact Hunters.

My main character, Isaac Wolf, is a 12 year old boy living in Prague in 1942, when his parents suddenly send him away alone with a talisman (a pendant in the shape of an “eternity knot”), a mysterious box containing…, and instructions to find Rookskill Castle in Scotland. When he arrives at Rookskill he discovers the Special Alternative Intelligence Unit where gifted children learn to harness their magical powers to support the Allies’ cause. Isaac has to learn that he, too, has magical powers, but to harness and use them he must hunt for a series of magical artifacts that are scattered throughout the past. And what is inside the mysterious box? How can he find those artifacts? And who – or what – is actually hunting him, as he unlocks the answers to these secrets?

2. How did you come up with the idea?

All of my Rookskill books have something to do with time.

In the first book, my protagonist Kat (who is also in this book) knows how to fix clocks, which gives her the ability to defeat the antagonist (there’s a bit of a steampunk element). In this new book, I wanted to play with time travel and the dangers inherent in time loops, time warps, and so on. I also wanted in this book to touch, albeit subtly, on how societies rise and fall and the nature of conflict.

But the real touchstone for me was when I happened upon an article about something called a Death’s Head Watch, which is a totally creepy real thing. https://janetsfox.com/2020/07/the-deaths-head-watch/

3. Do you base your characters on people you know? If yes, spill the beans!

Actually…no. My characters come to me, begging to be written. I’m not kidding.

Of course, there is an element of me in each of them. Kat is especially close to the kid inside me. But I try to enrich them by playing at opposites, at something I would never do or say or think, even if I share their fears or dreams. Each time I start a new story I start with the character first, and build the story around him or her.

4. How much of your real-life experiences play a role in the stories you tell?

When I write I do a lot of research, and my favorite kind of research is travel (which is a little hard to do right now, sadly.) For The Artifact Hunters, I went to Prague, where Isaac is from, and for Charmed Children I visited Scotland. A sense of place is really important to everything I write, so if you look carefully at any of my books you’ll see that they are set in places I’ve lived or visited.

I also have a master’s degree in science (geology), and so science plays a huge role in my work.

5. What books did you like to read when you were a kid? Do those books influence your writing?

My all-time favorite books as a kid were the Narnia books. And yes, they profoundly influence everything I write. I try to invoke that same sense of wonder and magic, and the kid relationships Lewis developed. My first three books are YA novels, and I have one picture book out, but I feel now that my sweet spot is middle grade, and that’s probably due to my love of Narnia.

6. What are you working on now?

I have a third Rookskill novel in proposal stage with my publisher (Viking), so we’ll see whether that’s a go or not. It may depend on how well The Artifact Hunters does, as all things in this business.

I have another book, Carry Me Home, coming out with Simon & Schuster next summer that is really different for me – a contemporary middle grade story about a homeless girl. I really, really love that book and can’t wait to see it out in the world.

But I’ve also been working hard on a “Covid” book, another middle grade fantasy that’s set in contemporary times but with a parallel universes theme. It’s tentative title is The Book of Weirds and Wonders.

7. What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’ve been a pantser forever but I’m trying really hard to plan more, and am finding my way to a technique I really like (that I’m teaching as part of my coaching business https://janetsfox.com/book-coaching/ ). I love pantsing but it makes the work so much more difficult. I’m working on this new in-between strategy called the inside-outline.

https://montana.scbwi.org/events/webinar-a-new-way-to-outline-with-author-janet-fox/

8. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up.

It’s so amazing to me to think that I’ve written and published as much as I have. I remember too well the early days, the rejections, the disappointments, the thinking I’d never make it, never publish anything, never be read. There’s only one real reason I did make it – I didn’t give up.

Oh, sure, I studied craft. I have my MFA in writing. I work hard. I’ve been lucky. But honestly, there are many ways to reach your dreams and only one thing that will really get you there and that’s to Never Give Up.

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Driving book trailers to new locations — at libraries

You’ll often see book trailers on an author’s website and the publisher’s youtube channel. But did you know that your public library’s catalog is another easy place to view book trailers? It’s also a great place to put a book trailer, whether you’re an author, a teacher, a parent, a young reader (or any age reader). All you need is a library card and you can add content — ratings, reviews, lists of favorites, tags, videos — to a book’s record in the public catalog.

My hometown library is Seattle Public Library, and we share catalog content with our nearby neighbors at King County Library System and our far away friends at Boston Public Library, and dozens of other libraries in between. When I uploaded this book trailer for The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox to Seattle’s catalog, it also shows up here at Boston Public Library.

And when I added the book trailer for Sarah Albee’s wonderful nonfiction book Why’d They Wear That? to Seattle’s catalog, it shows up here at San Francisco Public Library as well.

Here are a few other book trailers from recent middle-grade books I’ve loved — all uploaded via my local library’s website (I’ve listed a sampling of libraries where they show up, too):

Not every library has the ability (or has chosen to) include videos in their catalogs. But I encourage you to check to see if yours does. And if it does, you can start playing around with rating books, making lists, and tagging local authors (here’s what comes up under the tag “Seattle authors“).

Video interviews, book reviews and book talks also make great content to enhance a library catalog. If your students are working on book-related videos, consider broadening their viewership by adding their work to a library catalog. If you’re an author and one of your presentations or interviews is filmed, consider uploading the video to your book’s catalog record.

 

 

 

March New Releases

Happy March! Here are some of the of the fabulous books hitting the shelves this month, including our own Jen Swanson’s EVERYTHING ROBOTICS: ALL THE PHOTOS, FACTS, AND FUN TO MAKE YOU RACE FOR ROBOTICS which comes out March 8th from National Geographic. Congratulations, Jen!

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TheLandOfForgottenGirlsTHE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS by Erin Entrada Kelly releasing March 1st from Greenwillow Books. Soledad has always been able to escape into the stories she creates. Just like her mother always could. And Soledad has needed that escape more than ever in the five years since her mother and sister died and her father moved Sol and her youngest sister from the Philippines to Louisiana. Then he left, and all Sol and Ming have now is their evil stepmother, Vea. Sol has protected Ming all this time, but then Ming begins to believe that Auntie Jove—their mythical, world-traveling aunt—is really going to come rescue them. Have Sol’s stories done more harm than good? Can she protect Ming from this impossible hope? Erin Entrada Kelly writes with grace, imagination, and deepest heart about the meaning of family and about finding hope in the hardest circumstances.

DreambenderDREAMBENDER by Ronald Kidd releasing March 1st from Albert Whitman & Company. Everyone in the City is assigned a job by the choosers–keeper, catcher, computer. Callie Crawford is a computer. She works with numbers: putting them together, taking them apart. Her work is important, but sometimes she wants more. Jeremy Finn is a dreambender. His job is to adjust people’s dreams. He and others like him quietly remove thoughts of music and art to keep the people in the City from becoming too focused on themselves and their own feelings rather than on the world. They need to keep the world safe from another Warming. But Jeremy thinks music is beautiful, and when he pops into a dream of Callie singing, he becomes fascinated with her. He begins to wonder if there is more to life than being safe. Defying his community and the role they have established for him, he sets off to find her in the real world. Together, they will challenge their world’s expectations. But how far will they go to achieve their own dreams?

DorotheasEyesDOROTHEA’S EYES: DOROTHEA LANGE PHOTOGRAPHS THE TRUTH by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Gerard Dubois releasing March 1st from Calkins Creek. After a childhood bout of polio left her with a limp, all Dorothea Lange wanted to do was disappear. But this desire not to be seen helped her learn how to blend into the background and observe others acutely. With a passion for the artistic life, and in spite of her family’s disapproval, Dorothea pursued her dream to become a photographer and focused her lens on the previously unseen victims of the Great Depression. This poetic biography tells the emotional story of Lange’s evolution as one of the founders of documentary photography. It includes a gallery of Lange’s photographs, and an author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.

TheMidnightWarOfMateoMartinezTHE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ by Robin Yardi releasing March 1st from Carolrhoda Books. Life is confusing for Mateo Martinez. He and Johnny Ramirez don’t hang out anymore, even though they used to be best friends. He and his new friend Ashwin try to act like brave, old-time knights, but it only gets them in trouble. His parents keep telling him to hold his sister’s hand when crossing busy streets, even though she’s the one who always runs ahead.
And last night, two skunks stole Mateo’s old trike. Wait—two skunks stole his trike? Mateo is too big for that rusty kid toy. He has a cool, shiny new bike anyway. But Mateo also has a neighborhood to protect. And he’s about to begin a big, stinky quest to catch the thieves. A quest that starts in the middle of the night

IsabelFeeney,StarReporterISABEL FEENEY, STAR REPORTER by Beth Fantaskey releasing March 1st from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s 1920s Chicago—the guns-and-gangster era of Al Capone—and it’s unusual for a girl to be selling the Tribune on the street corner. But ten-year-old Isabel Feeney is unusual . . . unusually obsessed with being a news reporter. She can’t believe her luck when she stumbles not only into a real-live murder scene, but also into her hero, the famous journalist Maude Collier. The story of how the smart, curious, loyal Isabel fights to defend the honor of her accused friend and latches on to the murder case like a dog on a pant leg makes for a winning, thoroughly entertaining middle grade mystery.

EgyptworldEGYPTWORLD: DISCOVER THE WONDERS OF THE ANCIENT LAND OF TUTANKHAMUN AND CLEOPATRA by Stella Caldwell releasing March 1st from Carlton Kids. Unlock the secrets of an ancient and mysterious civilization. Through breathtakingly vivid images—including awe-inspiring CGI scenes—Egyptworld travels down the Nile River, through the land of the pharaohs. Return to a world where the desert sun sparks the gleaming tips of majestic pyramids, treasure-filled tombs hold mummified rulers, and colossal beasts of stone stand guard. This sumptuously illustrated book makes a perfect gift for all budding archaeologists!

HourOfTheBees

HOUR OF THE BEES by Lindsay Eagar releasing March 8th from Candlewick Press. While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.

MuttsPromiseMUTT’S PROMISE by Julie Salamon and illustrated by Jill Weber releasing March 8th from Dial Books. Luna is a farm puppy who loves to dance, and has only known a happy, serene life surrounded by her mother, Mutt, and her siblings, and cared for by Gilberto, the son of farm workers. But now Gilberto and his parents have moved on, and Mr. Thomas the farmer doesn’t feel he can take care of a whole family of dogs. He finds new homes for the puppies, not realizing that the man who took Luna and her brother does not have their best interests at heart. Luna and Chief, hungry and scared, are trapped in the smelly barn of a puppy mill—until they take matters into their own paws and find a way to escape. But can Luna and Chief find their way home?

TheEyeOfMidnightTHE EYE OF MIDNIGHT by Andrew Brumbach releasing March 8th from Delacorte. On a stormy May day in 1929, William and Maxine arrive on the doorstep of Battersea Manor to spend the summer with a grandfather they barely remember. Whatever the cousins expected, Colonel Battersea isn’t it.
Soon after they settle in, Grandpa receives a cryptic telegram and promptly whisks the cousins off to New York City so that he can meet an unknown courier and collect a very important package. Before he can do so, however, Grandpa vanishes without a trace. When the cousins stumble upon Nura, a tenacious girl from Turkey, she promises to help them track down the parcel and rescue Colonel Battersea. But with cold-blooded gangsters and a secret society of assassins all clamoring for the same mysterious object, the children soon find themselves in a desperate struggle just to escape the city’s dark streets alive.

EverydayHeroEVERYDAY HERO by Kathleen Cherry releasing March 15th from Orca Books. Alice doesn’t like noise, smells or strangers. She does like rules. Lots of rules. Nobody at her new school knows she has Asperger’s, so it doesn’t take long for her odd behavior to get her into trouble. When she meets Megan in detention, she doesn’t know what to make of her. Megan doesn’t smell, she’s not terribly noisy, and she’s not exactly a stranger, but is she a friend? Megan seems fearless to Alice—but also angry or maybe sad. Alice isn’t sure which. When Megan decides to run away, Alice resolves to help her friend, no matter how many rules she has to break or how bad it makes her feel.

THE EXTRAORDINARY SUZY WRIGHT: A COLONIAL WOMAN ON THE FRONTIER  by Teri Kanefield releasing March 15th from Abrams. Children are taught much about the men who shaped early America, but history-shaping colonial women remain largely unknown and undiscussed. The Extraordinary Suzy Wright sets about to change that, telling the little-known story of Quaker Susanna (Suzy) Wright (1697–1784), a renowned poet and political activist. Suzy helped settle the Pennsylvania frontier, where she acted as legal counselor to her less literate neighbors, preparing wills, deeds, indentures, and other contracts. Surviving documents and correspondence between Suzy and a host of her contemporaries—including Benjamin Franklin; James Logan, Pennsylvania’s governor and chief justice; and a few signers of the Declaration of Independence—reveal that Suzy, from her home on the frontier, exerted considerable influence in the highest circles of Pennsylvania government. This fascinating and inspiring story includes an author’s note, bibliography, and index.

TheCharmedChildrenTHE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox releasing March 15th from Viking. Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.

Summerlost_BOM.inddSUMMERLOST by Ally Condie releasing March 29th from Dutton Books for Young Readers. It’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

Which books are you looking forward to reading this month? Are there any that you’re excited about we might have missed? Happy Spring Reading!

Louise Galveston is the author of By the Grace of Todd, In Todd We Trust (Razorbill). She lives in southern Kansas with a passel of kids and a loud-mouthed parrot.