I was fascinated by the synopsis for The Sire, which is due for release in January. Why don’t we start by your telling the readers a little bit about the story.
The story of Claire and Walter is set in a world mirroring that of Europe in the late 1930s, illustrating persecution under an authoritarian regime, a girl’s struggle to see beyond prejudice, and a boy’s lack of faith in humanity. When magick-hating Claire is forced to rely on Walter, a powerful Mage, the two become swept up their king’s war against the users of magick. Their journey turns into a desperate search for The Sire, the creator of all magick.
What inspired you about the 1930s
It’s just such a fascinating era – the 30s into the 40s. So much was changing so fast: music, film, culture, technology. Most of all, I love swing music. Watching guys tossing girls into the air and whipping them around – it’s hard to sit still when some swinging song starts up.
Is there anything in your own life that led to your choosing prejudice and persecution as underlying themes to your story?
Like most mousey, glasses-wearing, freckle-faced redheads out there, I was bullied growing up. Since then, bullying has drastically evolved. It’s gained momentum with the internet and social media. Bullies no longer need face-to-face interaction to spread hate. But bullying, all bullying, stems from rather simple ideas. Bullies are people full of fear – fear of what’s different, what they don’t understand. Bullies are also usually people who are or have been bullied themselves. The key word here is people. We are all just people trying to live life the best way we know how. We may look different and act different and have different beliefs, but we’re all pretty much the same deep down. We want to keep the people we love close by, pursue our dreams, and honestly say that we lived a good life before we die. One of the reasons I chose to set my story in Europe in the 30s was to illustrate a time in history when prejudice and persecution led to all out war. The hate and discrimination that fueled that war spread to the rest of the world, even where mortars weren’t falling. I just want my story to convey some of the lessons we should all learn, like realizing that life is more than just tolerance of others – it’s about understanding and acceptance. –
Tell us about Claire and Walter.
Claire is a bit of a spitfire, though her childhood is rather dark, considering she’s lost both her parents. When she’s sent to live with her grandfather, she turns herself into a tomboy. She’s usually wearing boys’ clothes and getting dirty in her grandfather’s auto shop. And she was always taught to stay away from Mages, that they could do no good. So when war breaks out because of them, she’s conflicted by her hate of magick and the war it’s caused. That conflict is ultimately what leads to her getting stuck with Walter.
Now, Walter is kind of a mystery. We know he’s the same age as Claire, but he lives on his own and prefers it that way. He’s also an incredibly powerful Mage. But Walter has two main issues: he’s very superstitious and he knows how great he is. He can’t stand the fact that Claire hates him without even knowing him. But the more he tries to force her mind open, the harder she resists. Some lessons can’t be taught – they can only be learned.
As an author, what part of the book did you find most difficult to write.
Writing the ending to your book is always the most difficult. Even though you can relive your story over and over, creating those final scenes is always bittersweet.
In a way, you’re saying goodbye.
Because your book is middle grade and fantasy, it certainly can’t escape comparisons to the Harry Potter series. What essence of your book will most appeal to HP fans?
If Harry Potter fans go for my book, I think they’ll enjoy that the elements of fantasy are a part of the reality of Claire and Walter’s world. But unlike the Potter series, magick is openly known about worldwide, adding to the conflicts of society.
If Claire could bring one HP girlfriend into her world, who would she choose: Hermione, Ginny, or Luna? Why?
I’d have to go with Hermione. That girl is super smart and does not mess around.