This week we are In the Middle with Natalie Lloyd, author of the wonderful A Snicker of Magic.
Introducing an extraordinary new voice—a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.
Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.
But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.
Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.
Q&A with Natalie
What draws you into writing for a middle grade audience?
I find my way into a story through the characters, and I’ve realized I love writing younger characters. They’re still brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeve, so imaginative and quirky-wonderful and vibrant. That said, I think college was sort of my own personal renaissance of rediscovering middle grade literature. I remember half-heartedly buying CHARLOTTE’S WEB to read as an assignment in my Children’s Lit class, and experiencing book-magic within the first few pages. My heart woke up, and I remembered how it felt to fall in love with a book. I like how hope flutters on the edge of a middle-grade novel. How wonder blurs the lines between reality and fiction. I love that the language can be playful and lyrical and still genuine. Truly, it’s not hard for me to remember how vulnerable, anxious, dorky and hopeful I felt in middle school. I still feel that way most of the time. I’m not surprised my heart found its way back to that place through my fiction.
If you had a time machine and could visit middle grade you, what would you tell her?
I would tell middle-school-me to put down the crimping iron. Step away from the perm! Especially on picture day. Actually, I would go back to the day I felt the most awkward, the most left-out, the most shy and insecure, and I would do exactly what my parents did: I would hug middle-school-me and tell her she’s great. And that she’s got so many incredible days ahead of her. And I would probably get a little weepy when I see the tattered Babysitters Club book on her desk. I know she wants to be an author someday. And I know things are going to work out better than she could ever imagine. But I wouldn’t tell her she gets to have a Scholastic tattoo on her book someday too, because that moment will be worth waiting for. I would tell her this bad day is a blink compared to some seriously dreamy days ahead. In fact, forget what I said about the perm. I would tell middle-school-me to rock that perm. Scrunch it! Aussie Gel, FTW!
Choose your own adventure: Is there an interview question you’d love to answer but haven’t been asked?
Well, I love to talk about my dog. So far, I haven’t talked much about why I put my dog in A SNICKER OF MAGIC. Like me, my main character, Felicity Juniper Pickle, has a feisty dog named Biscuit. Initially, Biscuit ended up in the story because I’m such a magpie about manuscripts: I have a horrible habit of making it halfway through a draft before another shiny idea catches my eye … and I jump at it. I thought if I could picture Biscuit running through the scenes, I’d be more excited about diving back in to the story every day. I think my idea worked. But pretty soon I realized Biscuit wasn’t just in the story to help me make it to the end. Felicity needed Biscuit as much as I do. (Now I’m wondering if my editor will think it’s weird if Biscuit makes a cameo in every book…)
Awww, I love Biscuit! I’m glad you both dropped in. Congratulations on your debut!
|Natalie Lloyd lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She collects old books, listens to bluegrass music, and loves exploring quirky mountain towns with her dog, Biscuit. A SNICKER OF MAGIC is her first novel.|