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Sunday, March 13, 2016

(5th MMGM) Guardian of the Gold Breathers by Elise Stephens (interview)

Guardian of the Gold Breathers
By Elise Stephens
Sept. 17, 2015
Twelve-year-old Liam Finley doesn’t expect anything good when he is forced to move from Dublin to his stepfather’s large country house on the edge of the wild woods. But after the first night there, Liam abandons his fears of dreary boredom when he discovers that fairy tales haunt his new home. Has he truly discovered a dragon egg? 

The house’s old blind gardener Michael Moran claims to know Liam’s secret destiny, which lies in an enchanted Otherworld. He says Liam is the next Guardian of the Gold Breathers, a champion of dragons. 

Time is not on Liam’s side. Can he complete his three tasks to prove himself as Guardian before the paths close between his world and the Guardian’s land? Liam wants to believe the mysterious tales of Michael, but should he instead seek shelter in the practical kindness of Hannah, the housekeeper who calls Michael’s stories “rubbish”? Liam’s heart tells him to trust the things of magic, but it’s the humans he can’t be sure about.

Themes in this story include losing a parent, family relationships, dealing with guilt, overcoming challenges, facing your fears, and standing up for what is right, even when it costs you something.

Guardian of the Gold Breathers received the 5-star seal from Readers' Favorite

What three words best describe your book, Guardian of the Gold Breathers?

Puzzle-Quests. Courage. Sacrifice.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Guardian of the Gold Breathers a try?

12-year old Liam discovers a dragon egg and must risk everything—family, safety, and his own reputation—to protect the baby dragon from foes as he fulfills his role in a magical prophecy.

Grab a copy of Guardian of the Gold Breathers and answer the following:
favorite chapter?

Chapter 11 (in which the folk dancing happens and magic seems to be affecting everyone, even the unlikeable characters. People who were estranged are friends again. Ex-lovers are falling back into love.)

favorite page? 

P.113. In which Michael and Hannah sing together for the only time in the story. (It’s also the end of Chapter 11. ☺ )

favorite setting? 

The pond (which appears to have been carved out by magical creatures) in the forest where Michael and Liam set up their picnic.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser?

Benson had shown he was frightened of the forest several times before. Now he was headed straight for it. Was he trying to find the other dogs? A ringing began in Liam’s ears. No. This was not just Benson being curious. (p.147)

What inspired Guardian of the Gold Breathers? How did the idea come to be?

I wanted to write a fairy tale about reality and fantasy blurring in the life of a young child and pose the question of how much might be imagination and how much could be completely real. Ireland is an especially magical country, so it beckoned as the setting. I combined this with things from my own life, such as longing for a sibling I didn’t have, and feeling the need to take care of my parents from a young age. I’ve blogged about the making of Guardian of the Gold Breathers here (there’s some cool pictures, too!).

Can you tell us a bit about your hero, Liam? What makes him unique, what do you love about him?

I love how serious Liam is. He takes himself and his role as Guardian so soberly, it’s a big weight of responsibility on his heart. This makes him a bit of an old soul, but his earnest, bright curiosity and dedication are still very childlike. I love how sincere and faithful he is. He thinks he’s never going to be strong enough and brave enough to be a hero and doesn’t realize he already is one.

In Guardian of the Gold Breathers, Liam discovers that dragons exist...what fairytale creature or person would you love to discover is real?

The phoenix! Those birds are beautiful and they’re born again from their own ashes. I’ve seen my share of death and the grief still haunts me. A bird that rises again from its own ashes is such a symbol of hope.

What is your all-time favorite middle-grade book and/or character?

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. For characters, I love Meg from A Wind at the Door.

What do you love about writing middle-grade novels? Why do you think middle-grade literature is so popular and important?

I love the world as seen through the mind of a young person. Things are just and complex and ugly ever, but a child has purer motives while trying to solve the problems. Also, doubt and cynicism haven’t had a chance to settle in and take control. The stakes of good vs. evil feel more dangerous when the one fighting against evil is a child. I like that.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at acting out dramatic situations. I’ve got a passion for the dramatic parts of life and I’m always game for performing someone in front of people.

I’m really embarrassed to admit I have been known to sleepwalk on occasion. I even climbed into bed with a man while where were sharing a room. He was married. I was single at the time. Oy!

The last great book I read was The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Guardian of the Gold Breathers, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

The cupcake would be chocolate cake iced with green frosting and candy scales. There would be a flame-colored filling, cherry flavored. At the very heart of the filling would be a nugget of golden candy with a chocolate center. I’d call the cupcake Hero’s Worth, in honor of the Hero Song that Liam’s father taught him.

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. She counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her previous novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), and Forecast (2013). She lives in Seattle with her husband and son.