Posts Tagged tania unsworth

Interview with a Character ~ Brightwood by Tania Unsworth

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 blushes*

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

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.


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.

A Chat with Tania Unsworth (& a giveaway!)

Book jacket for BrightwoodOctober is one of my favorite months. Candy apples. Gorgeous fall leaves. Halloween. And, my favorite, spooky middle grade stories! So I was thrilled to chat with Tania Unsworth, author of the frighteningly beautiful new middle-grade story Brightwood. Leave a comment below for a chance to win your own copy!

JA: Unlike Daisy, the heroine in Brightwood who has never set foot outside the grounds of the mysterious mansion where she lives, you moved around quite a bit during your childhood. How did that impact the stories you tell? 

TU: I was born in the UK but spent most of the time up till the age of seven living in Greece and Turkey where my dad – the novelist Barry Unsworth – taught English and wrote. That was an amazing early childhood to have – full of wonder and novelty – and it gave me my love of travel, of setting out on journeys into unknown places…But it also made me crave safety and stability. As a writer I’m drawn to stories about this conflict; the comforting certainty of home versus the need to go out into the world. I like writing for middle grade because it’s around that time that most of us start to feel this conflict. In Brightwood, my heroine Daisy is just at the beginning of the end of childhood. Change is coming. It’s a frightening, sorrowful – and completely thrilling – time of life!

JA: Describe Daisy in three words: 

TU: Secret, powerful, kind.

JA: A lot of authors whose first books find great success suffer from what they call “second book syndrome.” How was writing your second middle-grade story? How was it different than writing The One Safe Place?

TU: I’ve written several books, two for adults, two for middle grade and three (by my last count) that never made it to the publishers at all! So you’d think I’d know how to do it by now. But while some things get easier – experience really helps with some of the technical aspects – each book has different challenges and demands. I think I can truthfully say that I never know how to write a particular book until I’ve got to the end of it. Sometimes I think of it as trying to walk across a bridge while building it at the same time…You have to rely a lot on faith – in your story and in yourself. And if you’re under pressure to follow up a good book with another that’s equally good or better, it can really get in the way of doing that.

JA: I’m too chicken to read scary stories for YA or Adult audiences, but I love a good middle grade spooky story. What made you want to write scary stories for children? 

Author Tania Unsworth. Image (c) D.E. Thaler

Author Tania Unsworth. Image (c) D.E. Thaler

TU: I think children love scary stories. I certainly did. When I was very small, there were some books that made me run away just at the sight of them. But I always crept back, unable to resist the dreaded words or scary illustration. Books are a safe way for kids to explore all kinds of fascinating emotions – including fear.

JA: What’s your favorite ghost story for children?

I love the classics. The Monkey’s Paw by W.W Jacobs was written over a hundred years ago, and the style is slower – and perhaps a little less accessible – than children are used to these days. But it’s still an outstandingly spooky story. Be careful what you wish for!

JA: You’re currently on tour as part of Algonquin’s #iLoveMG Author Tour. What’s your favorite part of being on the road and talking about your books?

TU: That’s easy. Meeting readers!

JA: What are you working on next?

TU: I’m writing a story about a girl who thinks she’s a mermaid, although it’s more thriller than fairy tale. Dark, with plenty of twists!

I have a ten-year-old in my household who loves all things dark and mermaid, so we’ll be waiting to see that new one. In the meantime, we’re wrestling over Brightwood. Thank you Tania!

Readers, leave a comment below for a chance to win your own copy of Brightwood.

An #iLoveMG Tour & a Giveaway!

I Love Middle GradeYou know we love all things Middle Grade, so of course we were excited to learn that some of Algonquin Young Readers’ MG stars are touring the country the fall as part of its #iLoveMG Author Tour. Tell us why you love MG in the comments below to be entered to win a copy of Kelly Barnhill’s amazing new MG, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

If you enjoyed the Mixed-Up Files interviews with authors Tracey Baptiste, Kelly Barnhill and Brian Farrey, don’t miss an opportunity to see them in person during the tour. And watch for upcoming interviews with some of the other authors participating in the #iLoveMG tour.

Wednesday, September 21st
Wild Rumpus
Minneapolis, MN
Authors: Kelly Barnhill, Brian Farrey

Saturday, September 24th
Odyssey Books
South Hadley, MA
Authors: Adam Shaughnessy, Tania Unsworth

Sunday, September 25th
Clinton Book Shop
Clinton, NJ
Author: Kelly Barnhill

Sunday, September 25th
An Unlikely Story
Plainville, MA
Authors: Adam Shaughnessy, Tania Unsworth

Monday, September 26th
Jersey City, NJ
Authors: Kelly Barnhill, Tracey Baptiste, Adam Shaughnessy

Tuesday September 27th
Community Bookstore
Brooklyn, NY
Author: Kelly Barnhill

Wednesday, September 28th
Blue Bunny Books
Dedham, MA
Authors: Adam Shaughnessy, Tania Unsworth

Wednesday, September 28th
Darien Public Library
Darien, MA
Author: Kelly Barnhill

Tuesday, October 4th
Watermark Books
Wichita, KS
Authors: Kelly Barnhill, Brian Farrey

Thursday, October 6th
Novel Neighbor
St. Louis, MO
Author: Kelly Barnhill

Sunday, October 30th
Brookline Book Smith
Brookline, MA
Author: Tania Unsworth

Wednesday, November 9th
RJ Julia
Madison, CT
Authors: Adam Shaughnessy, Tania Unsworth

Even if your home town isn’t on the list above, tell us us why you love MG in the comments below and you could win a copy of Kelly Barnhill’s amazing new MG, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.