The Fire Eternal, by Chris D’Lacey – Book Trailer

12 Apr

Chris D’Lacey’s Website

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Posted in Action Adventure, Book Trailers, Fantasy, Fiction for MG


The Necromancer, by Michael Scott – Book Trailer

12 Apr

Michael Scott’s Website

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Posted in Book Trailers, Fiction for YA, Thriller


An Interview with Author Rebecca Barnhouse – The Coming of the Dragon

12 Apr

Rebecca Barnhouse is the author of The Coming of the Dragon. She writes books for middle graders and young adults. Rebecca teaches and writes about medieval topics and about children’s literature set in the Middle Ages. Please visit her website at

1. I try not to interject myself into these interviews, but I have to comment on the premise of your book, The Coming of the Dragon. As I understand it, the story is not a retelling of the Beowulf story, but it does involve King Beowulf and some elements of the original Beowulf story. When I was a teenager, (which was probably only about 20 or so years after the whole Beowulf/Grendel incident occurred) most of my classmates (all boy school) were very good readers, but the idea of reading an epic poem in something that only vaguely resembled the English we knew was not exactly one that we embraced. However, most of us loved the story and I think that proves that if a story is compelling, we are willing to push through anything to finish it. The story of Beowulf had many of the elements that boys love:  heroes, monsters, and battles. So, with that entirely self-absorbed introduction over, please tell us about The Coming of the Dragon. Is the story involving Grendel mentioned in this book? Where in time, in relation to that event, does this story occur?

How great that you and your classmates loved Beowulf when you were teenagers! “Heroes, monsters, and battles,” as you say—what’s not to love? (Well, besides all those digressions and difficult names and stories within stories that can make it very hard to follow the main action of the poem.)

In The Coming of the Dragon the focus is not on the first half of the poem, in which Beowulf battles Grendel and Grendel’s mother. Instead, I skip forward to the second half of the poem, which takes place after Beowulf has ruled for 50 years. When a thief steals a goblet from a dragon’s hoard, the dragon gets revenge by destroying much of Beowulf’s kingdom. The king takes a small band of warriors with him to fight the dragon—but except for one young warrior, they all abandon the king in his hour of need. That’s the story I’m telling in my novel, so in that sense I am retelling part of the poem. But I’m also inventing a lot of backstory for my protagonist, Rune, whose nickname comes from the from runic letters inscribed on the amulet he wears around his neck. It was there when—as a baby—he washed up on Geatland’s shores. So was a sword, a shield, and a coat of mail. Throughout the novel, Rune struggles to find his courage and his identity.

2. What about this novel do you think young boys would enjoy?

Besides heroes, monsters and battles? How about ancient swords, chain-link mail, and masked helmets? Or a terrifying, fire-breathing dragon? Trust me, this is not your friendly, ride-on-my-back, read-my-thoughts kind of dragon. It has no name and it wants vengeance! If that’s not enough to get boys reading, there is also friendship and a smidgeon of romance—and plenty of action to make them keep turning the pages.

3. What style would you say it is written in? Is there any history to
be learned from this story?

Although the novel—like Beowulf itself—is historical fantasy, the style is realistic. I want readers to experience the heat and wind and acrid smell that Rune feels when a dragon flies directly over his head. The kind of weapons sixth-century Scandinavian tribes used, the architecture of their halls (no castles here!), the kinds of food they ate, the drinking horns they used; that’s the kind of history readers will pick up from this novel. There are also references to Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse literature and culture.

4. Is this novel intended for middle graders? Do you think young
adults would like it, too?

Rune is 16 years old. Originally, the book was intended for a YA audience, although now it’s being marketed for middle grade readers. But I think it’s for anyone who loves fantasy.

5. Your previous novel, The Book of the Maidservant, has a girl
protagonist. Did you give any thought to the prospective audience
for The Coming of the Dragon when you were writing or editing it?
Did you intend for this to be a book for boys?

I wasn’t really thinking about the audience when I wrote the book—instead, I was thinking about how to tell Rune’s story while remaining as true as I could to Beowulf. As a teenager, I loved fantasy novels about both male and female characters (still do, in fact), and never thought of them as being boy books or girl books.

6. Is there a sequel planned for The Coming of the Dragon?

There’s a companion book, called Peaceweaver, in the works. A different character, a girl, tells her version of events, and there’s some overlap with The Coming of the Dragon.

7. If you had to describe this novel by comparing it to other books,
which would you choose and why?

Besides Beowulf, right? The novel is full of the classic fantasy tropes, such as a main character of unknown parentage who has to prove his mettle both to himself and to those who are suspicious of him. In some ways, I’m drawing on all the fantasy novels I read growing up, starting with the works of J. R. R. Tolkien (who makes liberal use of Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon literature himself). Recent novels that might make good comparisons to this one are Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother, which is the first novel in her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, or John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice books.

8. Can you think of any novels by other authors that you would
recommend to boys?

For readers who want more about Beowulf, Gareth Hinds’ graphic novel, Beowulf, is excellent. Other fantasy novels I recommend include Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia books, starting with The Thief, and Cinda Williams Chima’s The Warrior Heir and its sequels. A wonderful novel that middle grade boys and girls are going to love, Matthew Kirby’s The Clockwork Three, is coming out in October 2010.

For readers who have the patience for gorgeous, complex language, I highly recommend Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea books, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea (published in 1967, it features a school for young wizards). For YA readers, I can’t recommend Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock highly enough. Cynthia Voigt’s The Wings of a Falcon, too.

9. When is this novel being released?

October 26, 2010.

10. Rebecca, your bio says that you’re a teacher. What do you think
schools can do to encourage boys to read?

Individual schools don’t have control over this, but the number one thing I wish the country would do is get rid of our focus on testing. Without meaning to, No Child Left Behind has turned “reading” into reading sentences and paragraphs in order to answer multiple choice questions. It has gotten rid of the concept of reading for pleasure (not to mention its pernicious effect on the arts, on science, and on any subject other than reading and math).

Something I think teachers and schools can still do is to recognize other forms of reading than novels, which we sometimes focus on to the exclusion of nonfiction. I’ve known boys who can very happily absorb encyclopedic works about engines and vehicles, but who are left cold at the thought of reading fiction. I know I’m stereotyping here, but I’m also taking examples from my own family. Exciting magazine stories, for example from Flying or Sports Illustrated, are valid reading material, too, and reading about subjects they feel a passion for can help both boys and girls gain confidence in their reading skills.


Slam Dunk, by Sharon Robinson – Book Trailer

10 Apr

Sharon Robinson’s Website

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Posted in Book Trailers, Fiction for MG, Sports


An Interview with Author Cynthia Willis – Buck Fever

08 Apr

Cynthia Willis is the author of Buck Fever. She writes children’s books and instructional materials for elementary classrooms. Please visit her website at

1. Cynthia, please tell us a little about the plot of Buck Fever.

I’d love to! In Buck Fever, twelve-year-old Joey MacTagert’s dad wants his only son to carry on the family tradition of hunting. However, Joey can’t bring himself to shoot a deer. Joey is more interested in drawing and ice hockey, two activities that his dad barely acknowledges. So, when Joey’s dad calls upon Joey to use his special skill in tracking animals to hunt down the big buck that roams the woods near their home, Joey finds himself in a difficult situation. He knows how to track Old Buck and has actually gained the trust of this deer, but Joey has kept this a secret. When trouble between Joey’s parents escalates, and Joey and his older sister, Philly, find themselves in the middle of tensions that they don’t fully understand, Joey tries to keep the peace by making his dad proud. Joey attempts to conquer his buck fever, which leads to consequences he doesn’t anticipate.

2. The story involves a boy and his dad, and hunting. Do you have hunters in your family? What inspired you to write this novel?

Most people are surprised to learn that I do not have any hunters in my family. The inspiration for Buck Fever came from my experiences with friends and neighbors. I grew up in a city suburb until I was thirteen. I, therefore, knew very little about hunting. When my family moved to a rural area where hunting was a big part of life, I was, at first, appalled by the idea of shooting at animals. Soon enough, though, I realized that some of our neighbors hunted to put food on their dining room tables. I learned that hunting serves many purposes, including keeping the deer population in check so that the animals do not over-populate and die of starvation and disease. I still live in a rural area with a huge deer population and I know many people who hunt. The different points of view and opinions about deer hunting are what inspired me to write Buck Fever.

3. The main character, Joey, doesn’t want to kill the buck. Is the story anti-hunting?

I didn’t write Buck Fever to be anti-hunting on any level. I based Joey on many boys that I have known and that I know–boys raised in families that value hunting, appreciate it as a sport, and enjoy all aspects of it. In many families, hunting is a tradition that has endured over many generations. Sometimes, though, a son or grandson may not feel the love for hunting. This can be a real problem for him. It can create great tension and conflict, which can make for a compelling story.

4. Joey’s father has a drinking problem. Is that an important aspect of the story?

The issues of Joey’s father and, in fact, both of his parents are very important to the story, I think. These issues contribute to Joey’s conflicts and affect his decisions, for better or for worse.

In my opinion, the drinking problem of Sam Hector, the father of Joey’s friend, is a particularly important aspect to the novel because he hunts after he has been drinking. As most people can imagine, this is really irresponsible. When interviewing hunters for Buck Fever, I was always impressed by their responsibility and respect for others, including the animals. However, there are, sometimes, irresponsible hunters. For example, I was once riding my horse through private property where hunters were not allowed. Nonetheless, a very drunk and bleary-eyed fellow shot at me and my horse. He heard movement, saw a four-legged animal and pulled his trigger. Happily, his shot missed us, but I was, of course, infuriated and terrified (as was my horse). I revisited this when writing about Joey’s experiences with Sam Hector.

5. What do you think boys will like about this story?

I hope they will like everything about it, but then I imagine this will depend upon the individual reader. I have received emails and letters from boys who don’t want to hunt and appreciated Joey’s point of view. I have also heard from boys who love hunting and appreciated the hunting scenes even though Joey struggles in ways that these readers never have. And, I have spoken to many readers who have no opinion on hunting, but enjoyed the story of a boy’s relationship and struggle with his dad, his family, and his friends.

6. Did you give any thought to the prospective audience for this novel when you were writing or editing it? Did you intend to write a book for boys or did you just want to tell a story that turned out to be geared towards boys?

I always think about the prospective audience of a novel when I am writing, but I did not set out to write a novel for boys. I started with the desire to write about the conflicting opinions regarding deer hunting and a family dealing with transitions. As I mapped out the plot and story events, and then revised Buck Fever, it evolved into Joey’s story.

7. Is there any more story left to tell about Joey? Do you have any plans or interest in writing a sequel?

I’ve been asked this question a lot, which is really lovely and sort of surprises me. At this point, I feel like Joey’s story has been resolved. By the end of the novel, he has reached a place of peace with himself, with his dad, with his family, and even with Michael Buckner. However, I could wake up one morning with Joey on my mind and a new plot suited just for him. Never say never, right?

8. I enjoyed the trailer for Buck Fever. Was the trailer your idea or the publisher’s? Tell us a little about how it came about and how it fits in with any plans you have to market this book to boys.

I’m so glad that you liked the trailer for Buck Fever. As most writers know, marketing a book is very important. With this in mind, I was visiting an online message board one night after a day of working on the final revisions for Buck Fever. I came upon a discussion on book trailers. After a few questions and answers, I contacted the person who created an amazing trailer for another author and the process began.

The trailer has been a great way to advertise Buck Fever. I posted it on,, (on the fan page for Buck Fever), and on my website, just to name a few places. It also appears on the Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends website. In addition, I blogged about the trailer and posted tweets about it. Blog reviewers have also posted the Buck Fever trailer to their sites.

9. Do you have any other books for boys in the works?

I have just started work on a new novel that is not specifically targeted for boys, but will certainly appeal to boys as well as girls. How is that for a teaser?

10. Which novels by other authors would you recommend to boys?

Some novels that I would recommend for boys include The Outsiders by S.E Hinton, The Percy Jackson and the Olympian series of books by Rick Riordian, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and Holes by Louis Sachar. For older readers: The Book Thief and I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, and In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith. I loved all of these reads.


Post Flood Announcement

05 Apr

You may have heard about the floods in Rhode Island. Well, that’s where I am. We are just recovering from that, but will have new interviews, etc., up in a few days. Sorry for the short absence.



Powerless, by Matthew Cody – Book Trailer

28 Mar

Matthew Cody’s Website

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Posted in Action Adventure, Book Trailers, Fantasy, Fiction for MG


The Boy Who Dared, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti – Book Trailer

28 Mar

Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s Website

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Posted in Book Trailers, Fiction for MG, Historical


Goblins! An Underearth Adventure, by Royce Buckingham – Book Trailer

28 Mar

Royce Buckingham’s Website

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Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, by Alison Goodman – Book Trailer

28 Mar

Alison Goodman’s Website

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Posted in Action Adventure, Book Trailers, Fantasy, Fiction for YA