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Thursday, March 27, 2014

(MMGM) Paul Durham, author of The Luck Uglies {Review and Interview}

I'm very excited to have Paul Durham stopping by the March MG Madness today...

The Luck Uglies
by Paul Durham
Harper Collins Childrens

The Luck Uglies is the first in a tween fantasy-adventure trilogy brimming with legends come to life, a charming wit, and a fantastic cast of characters-and is imbued throughout with the magic of storytelling.

Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. 
Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts...and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

The first in a series, The Luck Uglies is an altogether irresistible cross of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar, and Chris Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, overflowing with adventure, secrets, friendship, and magic.

Bursting with adventure, charming fantasy elements, plucky characters, and irresistible wit, The Luck Uglies is a fantastically fun first book in Paul Durham’s debut middle-grade trilogy!

Eleven year old Rye O’Chanter doesn’t really believe in the nasty, man-eating Bog Noblins...until she has a terrifying encounter with one. Now, Village Drowning is in danger from these devilish beasts, and their only hope may lie in their biggest outlaws: the Luck Uglies. A band of rogue “criminals”, who saved the village from the last Bog Noblin attack, the Luck Uglies have been banished by the greedy Earl Longchance. But with the appearance of a mysterious stranger called Harmless, Rye discovers there’s more to the Luck Uglies, Bog Noblins, and maybe even her own family.

The Luck Uglies was such a delightfully exciting page-turner! Paul Durham has spun a wholly captivating and engaging story that young readers won’t be able to put down. Gruesome beasts, thrilling outlaws, secret tunnels, frightening dungeons, enchantments, oh my! This book has it all and then some!

Fast-paced and full of breathtaking action and chills, this is an easy book to devour. Durham weaves together familiar fantasy elements, smart sparkling storytelling, and unforgettable characters to create something truly magical. With an enchanting voice and whimsical atmosphere, The Luck Uglies captures that special something middle-grade readers crave.  Village Drowning appears, at first, like an ordinary medieval village, but holds many enthralling, surprising, and kooky secrets. With wildly fun street/store/place names and eccentric inhabitants, Village Drowning makes for a wonderful setting. I loved traversing the village’s streets (and roofs and hidden underground passages!) with Rye and her friends.

Durham’s large cast of characters provide endless entertainment! From the heroic to the outlandish, from the endearing to fun to hate, from the laugh-out-loud funny to the entirely unexpected, there’s so much to love about these eclectic band of characters. Rye is the perfect mix of fun, clever, compassionate, brave, and troublemaker, and with her two best friends, sweet Quinn and feisty, impossible-not-to-love Folly, they make an irresistible and dynamic trio. And of course, the gruesome, terrifying, vile Bog Noblins make for spectacularly spooky enemies...although, the real villain of the story may just surprise you ;)

My Final Thoughts: I enjoyed every moment of this wildly fun adventure-fantasy and cannot wait for book two! The Luck Uglies and Paul Durham are fantastic additions to the world of middle-grade fantasy.

What three words best describe The Luck Uglies?
Villains. Heroes. Both?

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give The Luck Uglies a try?
No one in Village Drowning shed a tear when the legendary villains called the Luck Uglies disappeared…that is, until they realized that sometimes it takes a villain to save you from the monsters.

Grab a copy of The Luck Uglies and answer the following:
favorite chapter?
If I had to pick a favorite chapter I’d say Chapter 9. It includes the very first conversation between Rye and Harmless and establishes the central relationship that propels the book and the series. And I like to think it’s a little bit funny too.

favorite page?
My favorite page would be page 1, because there is something magical about writing or reading the first page of a fantasy book—it’s like moving to a new town where anything is possible.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser?
Page 82, Rye is relieved when she makes it home before her mother discovers that she snuck out to the Dead Fish Inn on the night of the Black Moon. But her relief turns to alarm when she finds that her friend Quinn and her little sister are missing, and the family pet rushes out and disappears into the bogs.    

What inspired The Luck Uglies? How did the story come to be?
Three years ago, as my daughters’ thoughts turned to Christmas, my oldest asked if I would write her a story as a gift. One we could read together. It had never occurred to me to write for young readers before, and yet, with that one simple request, everything changed. That story would become the early chapters of The Luck Uglies. After we read it on Christmas Eve I was presented with the all-important question: “What happens next?” To which I replied honestly, “I don’t know.” Turns out it wasn’t an acceptable answer. I completed the rest of the book over the next three months, one chapter per week, each read aloud by the fireplace to my small but enthusiastic audience.

There are some memorable characters in The Luck Uglies do you have a favorite? What do you love about him/her? Did any of your characters end up surprising even you with the way they turned out?
It’s too hard to pick just one. Although Rye and Harmless are obvious choices, the book’s setting—Village Drowning itself—may be another favorite. Other than Rye, the village is the only “character” that is truly with us on every page of the book, and its atmosphere has an undeniable influence on everyone who dwells there. Drowning has a life all its own, and it’s fun for me to peek into its alleyways now and then to uncover what secrets its shadows have yet to reveal.  

If you could live in any fictional fantasy world, which would you choose? What would you do there?
Most of the fictional fantasy worlds I read about are dark and dangerous places, so I probably wouldn’t want to linger in any of them for very long (Village Drowning included). That said, each morning I get to traipse across my yard and spend hours making up stories in an abandoned chicken coop at the edge of the woods. So, I guess I actually get to live in my own fictional fantasy world every day.

As a middle-grade author, why do you think middle-grade is so important? What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade?
For me, the very best middle grade books have a timeless quality that can blur the lines between child and adult reader. Middle grade readers are still kids, but they are starting to explore and understand the world in a different way. At the same time, they remain open to the wonder, enthusiasm and imagination that we too often lose in our teenage and adult years. I love reading middle grade fiction because it focuses on the fundamental challenges of finding our way in this world. Who couldn’t use a refresher?

What is your all time favorite middle-grade book, middle-grade hero, and middle-grade heroine?
The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander has stayed with me ever since I was a child. I’ve reread the series twice as an adult and it still holds up as compelling reading. Its five books tell a story that is timeless and epic in scope, and yet the storytelling remains intimate and accessible. For heroes and heroines, I’ll skew on the more recent side. A current favorite is Bartimaeous, the sarcastic djinni of Jonathan Stroud’s series of the same name (I’ve always been drawn to unconventional heroes). Coraline, the eponymous heroine of Neil Gaiman’s terrific book, is another favorite.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at day dreaming.
I’m really embarrassed to admit that my library books are always overdue.
The last great book I read was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Luck Uglies, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
The “Ragged Clover” cupcake would be vanilla cake topped with black frosting in the shape of a black four leaf clover. The surprise would be that the black frosting actually tastes like lemon (I’m a big fan of lemon cupcakes). Unfortunately, if I baked it myself it would probably taste awful—I can’t cook or bake anything that doesn’t involve a grill.

Than you so much for stopping by Paul!

Paul Durham was raised in Massachusetts and attended college and law school in Boston. He now lives in Exeter, New Hampshire, with his wife, two daughters and an enormous, bushy creature the local animal shelter identified as a cat. He writes in an abandoned chicken coop at the edge of a swamp and keeps a tiny porcelain frog in his pocket for good luck.


Brenda said...

Your cover and I'm very intrigued by "sometimes it takes a villain to save you from the monsters." Congratulations on its upcoming release.

Brenda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle @ In Libris Veritas said...

Ah the blurb definitely had me at the villain line! I always like when villain play a different role than expected. This sounds like so much fun and I'm going to add this one to my TBR.

Orchid said...

Oh man, my TBR just got longer. This sounds riviting. =)

Jillyn said...

I love villain stories, and this one sounds promising.