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Friday, March 8, 2019

7th MMGM: Changeling by William Ritter (review & interview)

Welcome to Day 5 of the 7th Annual March MG Madness! Click here to see the full schedule and links to other days.

The Changeling 
(The Oddmire #1) 
By William Ritter 
July 16, 2019 
Algonquin Young Readers 

The first book in an action-packed fantasy adventure series featuring witches, shape-shifters, and other creatures of fairytale and folklore, including two brothers—one human and one a goblin changeling—on a life-changing quest into the Oddmire. 

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind. 

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are. 

In The Oddmire 1: Changeling, the New York Times bestselling author of the Jackaby series brings to life a bold new adventure, the first in a series about monsters, magic, and mayhem. 

An ancient ritual goes terribly wrong when a distracted goblin tries to switch out a real human baby for a changeling. The goblin’s mistakes means Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, beloved by each other and their mother. But the Wild Wood is dying because its magic is fading and the only way to save it is for the changeling to return. So Tinn and Cole, unaware of who is human and who is goblin, set out into the mysterious woods, ready to cross the Oddmire swamp and discover the truth about themselves...what they find could change everything. 

Changeling is the first book in William Ritter’s new middle-grade The Oddmire series. Full of captivating fantasy, fun adventure, and thrilling twists, I found Changeling to be a fast-paced, wildly entertaining read! 

Ritter’s imaginative, fantastical storytelling; rich, layered world-building; and engaging, likable characters collide together to create a story young readers won’t be able to put down. The Wild Wood, with its mysterious atmosphere, enthralling beasties and beings, and surprises around every corner, makes for a bewitching and exciting setting. Witty banter and engaging personalities abound with Ritter’s stellar characters. From brave Tinn and Cole, amusing Fable, fierce mama Burton, an icy maybe-witch, a wily goblin, and chilling villain, Changeling is bubbling over with characters that will charm, excite, and entertain. 

Ritter takes readers, and Tinn and Cole, on a cleverly twisty, turny, magic filled adventure that concludes nicely, but sets up even more adventures...and readers are definitely going to want more adventures with these characters! 

Q1. What three words best describe your book Changeling? 
Heartfelt, foolhardy adventure. 

Q2.  Grab a copy of Changeling and answer the following 
Favorite chapter? 
Oh, that’s hard. I had loads of fun all throughout the book. My favorite might be Chapter Nine, if only because I love seeing these characters meeting each other for the first time. It’s the start of something big for all of them. 

Favorite page? 
Page 229. It contains a simple message I want my own children to hear beating in their hearts forever. 

Favorite setting? 
The Wild Wood. It wasn’t exactly the forests I tromped through when I was a kid having adventures, but I think it is the forest I imagined I was tromping through at the time. 

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: 
“Are you sure this is the way to get to the goblin horde?” 
“Yes. Absolutely,” Fable said with a firm nod. “I’m almost positive. Just to be sure, though, goblins are the greenish ones, right? And also, what is a horde, exactly? Oh! And also, do you like blueberries? Blueberries are my favorite.” (Chapter 14, page 88) 

Q3. What inspired Changeling? How did the story come to be? 
I wrote the words that would become the first chapter of Changeling on the very same day I learned that we would be adopting my son. This is a silly fantasy about magical creatures and impossible adventures, but it is also a very real book of my heart. It is about being family, being loved, and being yourself—whoever you turn out to be—and most of all, it is about the exquisite, indefinable, urgent sensation of belonging 

Q4. Tell us a bit about your characters Tinn and Cole. What makes them special? What do you love about them? 
They are incorrigible troublemakers with pure, sweet hearts. They are flawed and frightened and foolish, but in the end they don’t want to hurt anybody. They want to do the right thing… and for each other, they would both go to the ends of the earth. 

Q5. What do you love about writing and reading middle-grade lit? 
It’s fun. It has to be fun. Middle grade readers are actually very discerning critics, so an author can’t get away with lazy, heavy-handed profundity. It actually has to be a pleasure to read, too. Stories should be a pleasure to read, especially for budding readers. The stories and themes can still be important, of course, but they have to work harder to get there in MG instead of dragging readers through a bunch od drab, self-important prose to get there. 

Q6. What is your all-time favorite middle-grade book? 
That’s hard—have loved so many. As a kid, maybe Bunnicula? I liked the mix of the spooky and the silly even back then. Most recently, I’m thoroughly enjoying the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend. She’s done a masterful job of magical world-building and created a cast of instantly loveable characters. 

Q7. Fill in the blanks: 
I’m really awesome at falling down rabbit-holes of ridiculous “research” for a story. I once spent hours of precious writing time watching slow-mo videos of people throwing fire in a variety of ways for what wound up being a grand total of one sentence. Nailed that sentence, though. 

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I have been known to occasionally misspell my own name at signings when I get nervous. It doesn’t happen often, but there’s a lot of pressure! 

The last great book I read was a re-read of Terry Pratchett’s Making Money. I adore Pratchett’s voice and sense of humor. In the middle grade genre… my kids and I have been delighted by The Terrible Two by John & Barnett. Those are our most recent read-aloud books, and they’re grand. 

Q8. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Changeling what would it look like?  
I’d do a tangy spicy cake with a surprise heart of marmalade filling. The frosting could be textured and then air-brushed in different colors from opposite direction, making appear to change colors depending on how you looked at it. Changeling cakes! 

Reports of William Ritter’s birthplace are unreliable and varied, placing his hometown either in a series of mysterious Catacombs in Malta or in a nondescript town in Oregon. His parents, it can be confirmed, raised him to value intelligence, creativity, and individuality. When reading aloud, they always did the voices. 

At the University of Oregon, William made questionable choices, including willfully selecting classes for the interesting stories they promised, rather than for any practical application. When he wasn’t frivolously playing with words, he earned credits in such meaningful courses as Trampoline, Juggling, and 17th Century Italian Longsword. These dubious decisions notwithstanding, he regrets nothing and now holds degrees in English and Education with certificates in Creative Writing and Folklore. 

He currently teaches high school Language Arts, including reading and writing, mythology and heroes. He is a proud husband and father. When reading aloud, he always does the voices. 
Jackaby was his first novel. It was born in the middle of the night and written on two different hemispheres. It has survived typhoons and hurricanes, and was fostered into publication through the patient care of many hands. 


Slowsly said...

Loved the author bio. Sounds like a fun and creative guy. I like the book summary. It sounds new and extremely interesting.

Brenda said...

What an interesting premise, adding it to the TBR list.