I'm pleased to have author Anne E. Johnson stopping by today for an interview. Anne is the author of the recently released MG novel Ebenezer's Locker.
WS: What three words best describe your MG novel Ebenezer’s Locker?
AJ: Exciting. Funny. Spooky.
WS: In one sentence tell readers why they must read Ebenezer’s Locker.
AJ: If you love a ghost story with an unusual twist, and you like a fast and entertaining read with quirky characters, this book is for you.
WS: Now using as many sentences as you’d like can you tell us a bit more about Ebenezer’s Locker?
AJ: A century ago, Corbin Elementary School's building housed Dr. Ebenezer Corbin's School for Psychical Research. A couple of old spirits are still wandering the halls. It's up to sixth-grader Rhonda Zymler to find out what they want.
The more Rhonda digs, the more perilous her task becomes, and to complete it she must take two trips back in time. This story blends the realities of an economically-challenged modern American town with supernatural elements. What Rhonda finds not only gives her life a sense of purpose, but changes the fortunes of her entire town.
WS: What inspired the story behind Ebenezer’s Locker?
AJ: When I was a kid, I loved Judith Spearing's novelGhosts Who Went to School. I wanted to to write my own book about ghosts in a school, but from a unique angle. So I made the ghosts the spirits of psychics who've come back to deal with some unfinished business.
WS: Grab a copy of Ebenezer’s Lockerand answer the following:
· Favorite chapter?
AJ: Chapter 7, "The Spirit Hand," in which Rhonda and her friends have a seance with the neighborhood psychic.
· Favorite page?
AJ: Well, it's e-book only, so there are no page numbers! But my favorite passage is the speech by Tallulah (the psychic) when she gets all worked up about the various tricks some fake psychics use to pretend they're communicating with the dead.
· Favorite character?
AJ: Tallulah Radley, the eighty-year-old psychic. She's spunky and powerful, despite her frail old body. And she knows everything about the history if communicating with spirits, and she has strong opinions about the right and wrong way to do it.
WS: What writing projects are you working on now? Any plans for an Ebenezer’s Locker sequel or more stories about Rhonda?
AJ: In terms of books for kids, I'm just starting work on a new historical novel. It will take place in 1608, in the city of Mantua in Italy, and it will involve music and a mystery. And, yes, I do have plans for a sequel to Ebenezer's Locker.
WS: In Ebenezer’s Locker your character Rhonda must deal with ghosts…do you believe in ghosts? What famous ghost would you love to have an encounter with?
AJ: I do believe in ghosts, although I don't usually think of them as being so separate from our own minds as those in Ebenezer's Locker. In other words, our imaginations and memories are a part of the existence of ghosts, but that doesn't make them less real.
If by "famous ghost" you mean "ghost of a famous person," I'd love to talk to the ghost of Plato, the Ancient Greek philosopher, to really find out what life was life back then. If you literally mean "famous ghost," then I'd choose Jacob Marley fromA Christmas Carol. I've always wished he were in more scenes of that story.
WS: Rhonda must also travel back in time (so cool!)…if you could go back in time (or in the future) where and when would you go? What would you do there?
AJ: If I were sure my time machine functioned well and could get me back to the present when I needed it, I would visit medieval France or England, just to hear the music from that era played live. But it was a rough existence, especially for women, so I probably wouldn't want to stay long.
WS: Fill in the blanks:
1. I’m really awesome at ______.
AJ: Making cupcakes! Seriously!
2. I’m embarrassed to admit that ______.
AJ: I have a really hard time spelling "broccoli." (I always look it up.) But I do like to eat it, so it often shows up on my grocery list.
3. My favorite MG book is ______.
AJ: Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smek Day.
4. If I could live inside one made-up world I’d choose ______.
AJ: The town where Willy Wonka's chocolate factory is.
Q10. If you were to bake an Ebenezer’s Locker inspired cupcake what would it look/taste like and what would you call it?
AJ: This isn't as much of a hypothetical question as you might think. I had another book, a science fiction novel called Green Light Delivery, release recently, and for the launch party I actually made three types of cupcakes, inspired by the three main characters!
For Ebenezer's Locker, I would make a cupcake called Ebenezer's Surprise. It would look weird, maybe creepy, on the outside, but have a delightful, surprising filling. Let's say a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting dusted with cocoa powder (looks like dirt), and piped in shaky handwriting with the number 176 in frosting as close to gray as possible. But inside would be a perky lemon creme.
Thank you so much Anne for answering my questions! It's always great to meet another cupcake enthusiast :)
Anne E. Johnson lives in Brooklyn. Her children’s short fiction can be found in Stories for Children,Spaceports& Spidersilk, Knowonder!, and elsewhere. Her middle-grade paranormal mystery novel, Ebenezer’s Locker, is now available from MuseItUp Publishing. She is also awaiting the release of a medieval middle-grade novel, Trouble at the Scriptorium, by the end of the summer. You can learn all about Anne at her website, AnneEJohnson.com.
A hundred years ago, Corbin Elementary School's building housed Dr. Ebenezer Corbin's School for Psychical Research. It seems that a couple of old spirits are still wandering the halls. It's up to Rhonda Zymler to find out what they want.
Ebenezer's Locker follows the adventures of Rhonda, a sassy sixth-grader who's having trouble finding her place and identity. Getting to know these spirits becomes Rhonda's quest. The more she digs, the more perilous her task becomes, and to complete it she must take two trips back in time. This story blends the realities of an economically-challenged modern American town with supernatural elements. What Rhonda finds not only gives her life a sense of purpose, but changes the fortunes of her entire town.