After a few delays (involving the tragic smashing of my laptop and a nasty cold), I am thrilled to introduce you to Emily A. Steward and her debut MG novel, PENELOPE GILBERT AND THE CHILDREN OF AZURE!
So good to chat with you, Emily! Why don’t you tell us one of your favorite childhood books?
It’s difficult to pick one so I’m going to cheat a little bit. I have always LOVED Matilda by Roald Dahl. I also enjoyed The Littles, Goosebumps, and The Boxcar Children.
Since we’re creeping up on holiday season, what’s your favorite holiday?
It’s tough to beat Christmas and Thanksgiving. I always love getting together with family. As for a non-traditional holiday, I would have to say Free Ice Cream Day! If that isn’t a holiday, it certainly should be.
Tell us a little bit about your original inspiration for PENELOPE GILBERT AND THE CHILDREN OF AZURE. Where did the idea come from?
I really didn’t have much of an idea for the book when I started. It just sort of formed a story as I went along. It was really fun to write because it kind of felt like I was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book where one move could lead to happily ever after, and the other could lead my character to an unfortunate end full of loneliness, despair, and/or mutilation by rabid squirrels. You will have to read the book to see what path my character took 😉
What’s your favorite thing about your main character, Penelope?
Her ability to turn into anything. Imagine if you needed a recliner while waiting in line, or a bookmark when reading. Pretty handy ability.
What advice do you have for young readers and aspiring authors?
If you want to write someday, the best thing you can possibly do for your career is to read. But don’t just read one type of book. Every genre has something you can learn from that will help you be a more well-rounded writer and human being in general. For example, fantasy and scifi can teach you how to create worlds and imagery, contemporary fiction and drama can help you to better portray emotions and see other perspectives, and mystery and suspense can help you crafty those twists and turns to keep the reader turning pages!
Which authors have you drawn inspiration from?
Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, and J.K. Rowling probably helped form my style the most. I don’t claim to write nearly as well as any of them, but if just a little rubbed off, and someday my work was compared to any of theirs, I would be pretty thrilled.
Let’s peek inside the front cover, shall we?
Penelope Gilbert accidentally transforms into a stapler during math class, she’s sure she’s going crazy. But she’s not imagining the men in black suits now patrolling the halls at school, nor is she imagining the new substitute teacher who orders the class to take a special new test. A test that requires blood. Hunted for her powers, and torn from the life she knows, Penny is swept up into a world in the clouds where magic meets machine and pirates rule the sky.
Here’s a short excerpt:
“Come on!” she yelled to Haldor who was wriggling out from under the spider corpse. She ran to the spot where she saw the creature enter as Haldor hurried to catch up. She scrambled through the brush until she came to a stream. There she saw the spider. He was across the water under a large tree.
Above him were several objects swinging in the breeze. It took her a moment to realize that they were rotting bodies strung up by their necks. Their unseeing eyes stared eerily into the darkness. Upon closer inspection, she saw that there were at least thirty of them. She wretched silently as she tried to think of a way for Crane to not become one of them. The spider was already trying to wrap a strand of webbing around his neck.
A thought occurred to her. An outrageous, outlandish thought. I can do this, she assured herself. She tried to picture every last detail of her slain foe—every creepy crawling, hairy, shiny detail. Penny could feel the energy pulsing through her. Her hands were no longer her own. Her teeth had become fangs, and her eyes were the eyes of a killer.
I don’t know about y’all, but my copy of the book literally can’t hit my mailbox fast enough. ::happy shivers::
Emily Steward spent the better part of her childhood dressed as a ninja and trying to convince others to call her ‘Ace.’ When she wasn’t saving the world from evil samurai, she could usually be found in the branches of a tree reading a good book. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and dog Bentley. Though she seldom dresses as a ninja now, her adventurous spirit remains as does her love of tree climbing and reading good books.
Here are a few places you can author-stalk, erm, follow Emily!