Friday, August 23, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Claudia White (author of Aesop's Secret)

This week, I am very excited to welcome Claudia White, author of Aesop's Secret, to the my blog to talk about her book. I hope y'all will give her a warm welcome.

About the author:
I’ve been a day-dreamer all of my life.   Lucky I was since all our family holidays when I was a child involved long hours of driving with nothing to do but stare out at the passing landscape.   It wasn’t unusual for my Dad to map out a trip where we would travel at least six hours a day, seeing the sights and learning the history of the western US and Canada from our big comfy car. In those days we didn’t have portable video players or Gameboys. So there was not a lot to do except sleep or enjoy the scenery. As it was, I did enjoy the scenery but for a totally different reason than my parents had intended.  What I saw in the constantly changing landscape was the inspiration for stories—stories about horses galloping across the plains…stories about me, as a horse, galloping across the plains!  For me, it was like watching a movie only better because I determined where my adventures would go and who would be the hero.

You can haunt Claudia White at-
Goodreads | Website

1.                  Could you tell us a little about Melinda and Felix's family history and how they're able to transform into animals?
Melinda and Felix are Athenites, a race of people that can transform into animals. The kids didn’t even know about the existence of Athenites beyond storybooks and fairytales, let alone that they were related to them until Melinda began to experience transformations. Their parents explain that their ancestors are the subject of myths and fables who throughout history have called upon animal strengths for survival, but that they are every bit as real as you or I. 
2.                  I think it will be interesting to see how differently both Felix and Melinda react to the news. Why do you think Felix would prefer to be normal? 
Like many siblings, Felix and Melinda are very different.  Felix is a no-nonsense kind of guy, more interested in the science behind phenomena than believing magic may have been at work.  While I did not model him after anyone in particular, Felix reminds me somewhat of what a 12-year-old Sheldon Cooper (of the Big Bang Theory) might have been like (although years ago when Felix was born out of my imagination, Dr. Sheldon Cooper was not on anyone’s radar). The only area of his life that Felix would enjoy being considered different is being known as the smartest kid in his class. Felix has never imagined himself changing into an animal; the thought of it disgusts him.
3.      What about their new found ability has Melinda willing to embrace it? 
Melinda’s personality is the absolute opposite of her brother’s.  She is a dreamer whose active imagination keeps her entertained.  She doesn’t care why something extraordinary has happened, she simply enjoys that it did.  For Melinda, being able to transform into any animal she chooses is literally a dream come true.  She is always fantasizing about becoming a horse, a squirrel, a bird, a tiger, a dolphin…any and all creatures in her imagination, which is sometimes problematic.  Transforming takes a great deal of concentration which Melinda often lacks.  However, what she lacks in concentration she makes up for in enthusiasm. 

4.                  Claudia, would you mind sharing with us why you chose to write a middle grade book?
I wanted to write for children for as long as I can remember.   Exploring all the what-ifs in life has always been a great pastime for me and weaving them into stories a passion. When I began writing Aesop’s Secret I knew that Melinda was ten and Felix was twelve.  Through their development, I met my audience. 

5.                  I hear the your imagination and love of myths helped inspire the story for Aesop's Secret, so, I was wondering if you would like to share with us your favorite myth? 

That’s a difficult one to answer because I have so many that I enjoy.  But if I have to choose just one then I would pick the myth of the Satyrs (or Fauns). Their love of nature and of music and dance puts them at the top of my list. Like many mythological creatures, Satyrs have held a fascination for writers through the ages like Puck in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and more recently Mr. Tumnus in C.S. The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe.  


6. Car trips, boy am I familiar with those (although, we more did long haul's with no sight seeing). Since you're  a veteran when it comes to car trips, could you share with us what made the trips fun for you?
I grew up in the west and our vacations were spent traveling by car all over the western US and Canada.  The scenery was spectacular but not in the way that it was for my parents.  For me it presented the perfect backdrop to invent stories.  I would imagine scenes using the landscape as my guide.  It was like watching a movie for me.  At that time westerns were a big thing so I often imagined adventures using that theme.  It suited me just fine because I loved horses and horses were a major part of every story.  What was great was that I was usually the star of my imagined movie, either riding the horse or actually becoming one. 

7. Alright, time for a question about...books. If you could step into any book and take the main characters role, which book would you jump into? Now the tough part, why that book and character?
Chocolat by Joanne Harris and I would be Vianne Rocher.   The book is one of my favorites.  I was captivated by the charm of Vianne, her mystical presence, her strength and energy, her kindness and wisdom.   I also love chocolate and good food plus I enjoy cooking.  The book was a treat to my senses in so many ways.  The way Harris developed her characters, showing their complicated relationships and the changes that Vianne inspired was brilliant.   
8.       The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 
I’d have to say Superman.  He’s got that flying thing going, can use his eyes like lasers, is super fast (faster than a speeding locomotive!), and can jump pretty high (higher than the tallest building in fact).  Plus, I think he’s done this kind of work before. 
9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?
I love my little cave, an office upstairs that I share with an occasional four footed visitor or two and a window for daydreaming.  The space   is filled with books, memorabilia and artwork that are constant reminders of places  I have traveled and cultures that I have had the privilege to encounter and gain understanding. 
10.      Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us?

Key to Kashdune, the second book in this series, will be released in the spring of 2014.  The story focuses once again on Melinda and Felix Hutton but is a totally new adventure which involves hieroglyphs that lead them on a musical adventure.  Key to Kashdune will be followed by Servalius Window whose release date is to be determined.  You can read more about each of these books on my website

Claudia, thank so much fro stopping by and answering some questions.

Aesop's Secret by Claudia White, May 28 2013. Published by MP Publishing.
Melinda and Felix Hutton are just an ordinary pair of siblings, until their parents confess that they have all inherited the talent of metamorphosis, a revelation that begins to unravel the children’s world. Ten-year-old Melinda embraces her Athenite heritage, but her efforts often end up leaving her freckled face attached to feathered body with a twitching rat’s tail. Her older brother Felix doesn’t greet this new reality as something to celebrate. Wishing he were normal, Felix resents becoming parts of the myths and fables he’s read. But there’s a threat rising just as the children are learning of their talents, and a powerful enemy will use every trick and tool he has to keep the family from letting slip the secret of their gifts. With only the help of Melinda’s pet rabbit Aesop, who has begun acting awfully strange lately, Felix and Melinda determinedly fight back against the suffocating grasp of those who want to drive the Huttons and their kind back underground.

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