I'm really excited to be hosting author interviews with a couple of the Class of 2K12 authors who have middle grades books coming out this year.
First up is Sarvenaz Tash with her debut THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST which came out on April 24th.
Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest. Debut author Sarvenaz Tash combines an edge-of-your-seat adventure, a uniquely clever voice, and an unforgettable cast of characters to prove that sometimes the best adventures of all are waiting right in your own backyard.
1. How would you describe The Mapmaker and the Ghost in five words or less?
Holes meets The Goonies. (That might be cheating but I always loved that pitch.)
2. What sparked your initial idea to write this book?
I woke up from a dream about a girl named Goldenrod Moram and then I immediately wondered what kind of girl would have that name. It sounded like a fairy tale name but I thought it'd be interesting if, instead, she was an ordinary girl who was rather annoyed by that fact. That same day, I came up with the idea of the gang of nefarious kids she meets in the forest and, voila, the very initial spark was born.
3. You have unique character names in your book, how did you decide on them?
As I mentioned, Goldenrd's name came to be in a dream. Spitbubble's name is the one that came to me later that day, when my boyfriend and I were discussing making soap bubbles when we were little. The other names came to me pretty easily as I was thinking of the rest of the gang and their "talents." I do get a big kick out of names.
4. Your audience is middle grades (8 and up) - what came first, the book idea or the audience for the book?
I always knew I wanted to try my hand at writing an MG novel because I have such fond, vivid memories of reading those as a kid. I was just waiting for the right idea. So when this idea popped into my head, I knew it was the MG story I'd been waiting for.
5. What do you hope readers take away from reading The Mapmaker and the Ghost?
I hope that first and foremost they're entertained and that it makes them laugh. And I hope it piques the reader's sense of adventure. And if they learn some interesting fact about Lewis & Clark also, that would be cool, too!
6. As a debut author, has your experience been what you expected or completely different or somewhere in between?
I'd say that no matter how much you think you've prepared yourself, most of what happens when you're about to get published is unexpected. Most of it is unexpected in good, albeit surreal, ways. Like seeing your book pop up on Amazon, or knowing that strangers are going to be reading your story. And some of it has been unexpected in more difficult ways. Things like staff changes at your publishing house, or having to sit down and actually write a second book or knowing that strangers are going to be reading your story! There are definitely challenges. But, ultimately, they are amazing challenges to have and I'm very grateful for them.
7. How long did it take from initial idea/starting writing to the book's release? And how many revision rounds were done in between?
I got the idea in December 2006, but I didn't start writing it in earnest until Fall 2007. My book released in April 2012. There were many, many revision rounds done in between. By my last count, we were up to around draft 27. About 24 of those drafts were done on my own and three were done with the publishing house and my editor there.