What inspired you to write The Grimm Legacy?
I worked as a page at the New York Public Library’s grand research library when I was in high school. It was a magical place and I always thought it would make a great setting for a novel. I always loved fairy tales, too—as a child I spent a lot of time imagining what I would do if I found a magical object like the ones in the stories. The Grimm Legacy combines those two ideas.
I just finished writing The Wells Bequest, the next Repository novel. It has the same setting as The Grimm Legacy, but it involves objects from science fiction instead of fairy tales, and most of the characters are new. It will be published next summer (2013).
How long did it take you to write The Grimm Legacy?
About two years, from the time I started until the time I finished, but I wasn’t working on it that whole time. I spent some time writing part of another book that I ended up abandoning, and I also work as an editor at a science magazine.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
I was a voracious reader as a child—still am. I especially loved books about magic: C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, novels by E. Nesbit and Edward Eager, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, George Macdonald’s The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie, and any fairy tales I could find. Diana Wynne Jones’s books came out when I was a little past childhood, but they’re among my favorites.
My ambition is to write stories that give readers the kind of intense pleasure those books gave me—books that make you stay up too late reading under the covers with a flashlight and miss your bus stop.
If you could possess a magical item, what would it be? Why?
Winged sandals and an invisibility cloak. Flying would be so much fun! But I would hate to be mistaken for an enemy aircraft, so I would need the invisibility cloak too. I’d like the invisibility cloak for its own sake, too, since I can be pretty shy. But don’t worry, I won’t use it to spy on you.
If you could befriend a character from any of your books, who would you befriend? Why?
Julie from Enthusiasm. She’s a kind, loyal friend and we have a lot in common—we’re both crazy about Jane Austen.
What is your favorite fairy tale?
Does The Princess and the Goblin count? It’s a novel, but it has a fairy-godmother figure, a magic ball of thread, and a hero who saves a princess. If not, maybe “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” because I always loved the idea of going through a trap door in your bedroom and finding an enchanted palace at the other end. Or maybe “The Ugly Duckling,” which is about finding your true self. It’s so hard to choose!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
I love New York City, where I live. I love being just a subway ride or a fascinating walk away from a zillion different activities and cultures. I love being surrounded by friends and neighbors and yet being able to lose myself in a crowd. I love the variety of buildings and parks, the many great museums and libraries, the layers of history, and all the delicious food. I spend hours every day walking around the city.
Where can we purchase your books?
I love independent bookstores, so that’s what I would try first. If your local independent bookstore doesn’t have my books, you can ask them to order them for you. If you don’t have an independent bookstore nearby, you can try a chain store like Barnes & Noble. Or you can order my books online from a bookstore or from Amazon.com.
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