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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interview: Kit Grindstaff, author of The Flame in the Mist


I'm so thrilled to have Kit Grindstaff stopping today for a fun interview! And be sure to check out my review of Kit's middle-grade fantasy The Flame in the Mist...

The Flame in the Mist
by Kit Grindstaff
April 9, 2013
Random House Kids
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / IndieBound

Set in an imagined past, this dark fantasy-adventure is for fans of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Features  Jemma, a fiery-headed heroine held captive in Agromond Castle, yet destined to save mist-shrouded Anglavia.
Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma's past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.

WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER


What three words best describe The Flame in the Mist?
Creepy, magical, exciting.
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers (especially reluctant readers) to give The Flame in the Mist a try? 
If you like intrigue, magic, mystery, spookiness, action-packed adventure, and evil adversaries to make your blood curdle, you’ll LOVE The Flame in the Mist, with its fiery-headed heroine, Jemma, her telepathic golden rats (yes, telepathic golden rats!) and the rich cast of human and ghostly allies who help her to uncover the truth about her dark past—and face a very dangerous destiny.
Grab a copy of The Flame in the Mist and answer the following: 
Favorite chapter?
Ooh, tough choice…One I particularly loved writing is Chapter 26, Rally, with all its tension and drama: the filth of Blackwater’s muddy streets; Jemma being swept up in the mad crowd and carnival-like atmosphere, trying to keep her identity secret and the rats hidden; the torch-lit town square with people reaching a frenzy in anticipation of the revered speaker, who arrives, and. . .that’s all I’m going to say! 
Favorite page?
Page 244, where Jemma does her first healing. 
Favorite character?
Much as I adore Jemma, I’m going to sidestep my main character and go for a secondary one. Or rather, two, since they’re inseparable: Noodle and Pie. Rats count, right? Choosing between humans would be way too tough. I love them all—even the evil ones. 
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: 
Page 100.  Jemma is in Agromond Forest fleeing for her life, when she sees a ghost child through the raging storm that makes her stop in her tracks:Jemma stood petrified, her heart hammering as he swayed closer, oblivious to the chaos crashing down around him. Others closed in behind him, a straggling band of waifs, all moving in the same direction—toward her.
What inspired The Flame in the Mist? Was this story influenced by any specific books, lore, events, or places? 
Years ago, I took a workshop whose brief was: Write a fairy tale about your childhood. I grew up in relative isolation, several miles from the nearest village, and saw few kids other than family until I was 5 and went to school. That morphed into: Girl trapped in castle high on a crag, miles from anywhere, with weird, witchy family, longs to escape. It stuck with me, and later became the core for The Flame in the Mist. At that point, my teen fantasies about having been born into the wrong family turned into Jemma actually being in the wrong family.Two books that inspired me were Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass—I loved Lyra’s spunk, and the parallel England Pullman created—and Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan, with its sprawling Gormenghast Castle and wonderful character names. As an English kid, I also absorbed the mood of classic Brit authors like Dickens, whose foggy scenes, for example, helped me create the feel of Anglavia’s ever-wintry countryside and interminable Mist. And who can forget Miss Havisham’s creepalicious house in Great Expectations?Ancient, eerie places always fascinated me. The Tower of London is one whose lore crept into the pages of The Flame in the Mist: those dark dungeons, the supposed haunting by Ann Boleyn, and the ravens, which show up as Rook, Nocturna Agromond’s nasty pet bird.
Your character Jemma has two telepathic golden rats named Noodle and Pie (awesome names by the way)...if you had a pair of telepathic golden rats what would you name them and how would you enlist their help? 
I’m glad you like their names! I’m so attached to Noodle and Pie that I think if two similar ratties turned up in my life, I’d have to call them. . . well, Noodle and Pie. In fact, I’d probably believe they were Noodle and Pie, so would rely on them to be my voices of wisdom, like Jemma does. Hey, maybe they could tell me if I’m heading in the right direction with my next book! They could be my co-authors! Then again, I might have to become a healer so they could sit on my clients’ chests and contribute their energy, they way they do for Jemma. Though my clients might not like that.
Can you give us any hints or teasers about what's to come in the sequel to The Flame in the Mist? 
One main Agromond nemesis, a journey overseas, a grisly secret in Nocturna’s past, a very cold kind of darkness, more twists and betrayals…and one very shocking revelation.
Close your eyes, imagine your dream library, and answer the following: 
My dream library is located___
in a clearing in the woods.
The first thing you notice about my dream library is___ 
that it’s built around several trees, whose trunks and branches provide part of the walls and ceiling. And yet it’s so spacious and bright—light pours in through large windows and skylights.
Outside my dream library's window I see ___
lush green forest, giving me a sense of containment and nourishment, and through the skylights, just….sky.
The most unique/special thing about my dream library is___ 
you walk in, and instantly feel uplifted and creative, as if all the love and inspiration that’s gone into writing its books flows into you. Also, whenever I write there, ideas flow freely.
My dream library is called___ 
The Illuminarium. 
If you could “borrow” any character from any book/movie/tv show to write about, who would you pick and what would you do with them? 
I’ve sometimes wondered who, from other books, Jemma would hit it off with. Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockinglbird comes to mind. I also think of Lyra Belacqua from The Golden Compass. It would be fun to bring those three together in a time-traveling, book-hopping, magical meeting, and see what would happen!
Fill in the blanks: 
I'm really awesome at___
procrastinating.
I'm really embarrassed to admit that___ 
I can be an awesome procrastinator.
My first literary crush (author or character) was___ 
Winnie-the-Pooh
The last great book I read was___ 
one I just finished: The Year of Shadows, by Claire Legrand. It doesn’t come out till later this month, but I was lucky enough to win—yes, WIN!—an ARC. I rarely win things. But that’s not why I loved it. It’s a charming, heartfelt story. I cried at the end.
If you were to bake a cupcake inspired by The Flame in the Mist what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it? 
Thank goodness Jemma grows out of her love of entrail stew, so spleen and pancreas don’t have to be included! So, hmm. . .A lumpy chocolate base to represent Mordwin’s Crag, with fiery-orange icing to match Jemma’s hair, encrusted around the edges with yellow M&Ms—a tribute to Noodle and Pie’s golden fur—and topped with a dollop of whipped cream for the Mist. Crowning the whole thing, three beads of turquoise icing: two for Jemma’s aqua eyes, and one for her magical Stone. Taste? Divine! And I’d call it. . .the Magnificent Mist Munch, or “Mmm” for short.  
Thank you so much, Kit, for stopping by!

Kit Grindstaff
Kit Grindstaff was born near London, and grew up in the rolling countryside of England. After a brush with pop stardom (under her maiden name, Hain) she moved to New York and embarked on her career as a pop song writer. 
Kit now lives with her husband in the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the SCBWI. The Flame In The Mist is her first novel. You can also find her at http://www.kitgrindstaff.com 
http://www.facebook.com/kitgrindstaff and on Twitter: @kitgrindstaff



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