Just as we promised, here is our interview with Sarah Prineas, author of THE MAGIC THIEF--coming out this week, June 3! Great timing-a great first summer read if you haven't read it yet.
Franki: Where did the idea come from for THE MAGIC THIEF?
Sarah: The way I come up with story ideas is to have one idea and jot it down in a word file on my computer and set it aside until I find another idea or two to put with it. In the case of The Magic Thief, I had the first lines in one of those files:
“A thief is a lot like a wizard. I have quick hands. And I can make things disappear.”
Then I read a letter to the editor of Cricket magazine asking for more two-part stories and more stories about wizards. I figured I could do that, and Conn became the thief that spoke those words. His character makes the story go, so all I had to do was invent situations and challenges and see what he would do.
Franki: You are a fantasy reader yourself. Were you a fantasy reader as a child? Which books hooked you on fantasy reading?
Sarah: I didn't read a whole lot of fantasy as a kid, though I realized recently that T.H. White's King Arthur story The Once and Future King must have influenced me, first because I reread it about fifty times, but also because Merlin changes young Wart into lots of different animals, and that's like the embero spell in The Magic Thief. I read Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and loved it, because what dorky 12-year-old doesn’t identify with Meg Murry and love reading about her adventures?
Franki: Which fantasy authors are favorites for you now?
Sarah: My favorite fantasy writer is J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He is the writer who taught me how to believe in the power of story and the sense of wonder that fantasy can bring to readers. One of my very favorite authors is Megan Whelan Turner, starting with her YA fantasy novel The Thief. Turner does just about everything right—her characters are deep and interesting, her plots are tricky and surprising, and her fantasy world is one in which you can spend lots of time. As a writer, I’ve read all of her books several times each just to figure out how she does what she does. The only problem is that she writes so slowly. It’s hard to wait such a long time for a new Megan Whelan Turner book, but it’s always worth the wait.
Franki: Tell us how the device in your husband’s lab ended up in your book!
Sarah: That’s a funny question! His lab equipment has a fancy name, the “molecular beam epitaxy facility.” It’s very cool looking, all shiny and gold, with dials and valves and porthole-like windows, and gauges for measuring pressure, and so on. I don’t like it very much because it’s an expensive machine that requires constant attention and is always breaking down, which means my husband has to go into the lab to take care of it. I just had to get my revenge by putting it into my book and turning it into an evil Device.
Franki: The setting was so clear to me as a reader when I read THE MAGIC THIEF. Did you have a particular place in mind when you wrote?
Sarah: I did! Not a place I’ve ever visited, though. I have a PhD in English literature and read a lot of 19th century English novels, and I always loved Dickens’s novels the most. Wellmet is modeled on the London of the early Dickens novels. I also used a map as inspiration [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_files/ENG/LON/Rocque/rocque_index.htm]. I got lots of ideas for street names and the twisty alleyways of the Twilight from looking at the seedy Southwark part in that London map.
Franki: Can you describe your writing process at all? How does fantasy writing go for you? What is the typical process? A typical day? Etc.
Sarah: A typical day is that I spend lots of time writing emails to my friends and reading blogs, and I’ll also spend some time tweaking a scene. If I’m really in the zone, I’ll write for eight hours at a time and be completely immersed in the story, in the characters, in fitting the pieces together. When that happens my family lets me shut myself up in my room with my writing chair and laptop computer and waits for me to come out. Which I do, eventually…
I don’t outline at all, so I write into the void—figuring out what happens as I write it, which is a very fun way to write. It’s writing as discovery!
Franki: This is the first in a trilogy. Can you give us any clues about what to expect next?
Yes, I can! You’re the only one who has asked this question, by the way. Here are three clues. One is that Conn must search for something that is lost. Two is that he gets into trouble involving pyrotechnic explosions. Three is that he must leave the city of Wellmet. Biscuits and bacon also make an appearance. The second book is called The Magic Thief: Lost and it comes out in June 2009, a whole year after the first book.
You can read the first chapter on the author's website!