This month is all about birthdays. Mostly celebrating book birthdays, and planning my son Ori's first birthday, too. (Do I make it a theme around constellations because he's named after one--Orion--or do I make it a joke-type birthday since he's born on April Fool's? Ah, the dilemma!) But that is still a month away.
Much sooner, is my book's birthday. I'm so thrilled--and nervous--to share Wings of Olympus with the world on March 5th. I have worked on this book, and lived with this idea, for an extremely long time. In fact, I was writing my very first words of this story when I first met my husband!
I had just come back from a guitar lesson and was sitting in a cafe with my notebook. I was smiling out the window at the joy of starting a new story when I caught the eye of this nice-looking boy that was smiling too as he was walking past. He stopped and came in the cafe and inquired what I was writing about. And basically we fell in love right then and there.
It's no wonder, perhaps, that Wings of Olympus is a love story--in this case, between a young girl Pippa and her horse Zephyr. Of course, it has seen a gazillion iterations since those first lines I wrote in the cafe, and it was really fleshed out when my husband and I hiked Mount Olympus and were caught in a thunderstorm. But always, at its heart, was the message of love. What will win the Winged Horse Race of the gods and goddesses, "love," as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, claims, or "might," as Ares, the god of war, insists?
A book birthday is a really wonderful thing, as any author will let you know. After all, a book birthday only happens once. This year it's extra exciting because I'm sharing my book's birthday with one of my dearest friends. Lee Edward Fodi's The Secret of Zoone, also published by HarperCollins, is coming out on March 5th, too!
Lee was nice enough to answer some questions I had about his new novel.
What does a book birthday mean to you?
It’s the official release of a book and it’s a day to celebrate—especially with all the kids I meet through my classes and school visits. They have been hearing about Zoone for a while, and I feel like they’ve been part of the process. So they get to celebrate, too!
Describe your new book, Secret of Zoone.
It’s a middle-grade fantasy book full of adventure, humor, and gentle wisdom. It’s about a boy who “borrows” a key to the nexus of the multiverse, where a thousand doors lead to a thousand worlds. Through his adventures he meets Tug—a skyger with crippled wings, Fidget—a princess with inappropriately purple hair, and Salamanda—a wizard’s apprentice, who may have just taken the wrong job.
What was one of the most challenging things writing it?
World-building was really challenging, because this wasn’t just ONE world, but several. I also had a challenge finding the right voice and rhythm at first.
What was one of your favorite things about working on it?
It is the same as the challenges (so I guess I like a good challenge). I enjoyed creating the worlds and the characters who come from them.
Which is your favorite character and why?
It’s hard to pick just one, so I’m going to cheat and pick two. From our world, it’s Aunt Temperance, because she emotionally resonates with me. From the worlds “out there”, it’s Tug because he’s a giant blue tiger with (albeit not working) wings. And who doesn’t want to hang out with a winged tiger?
I know that you do a lot of prop building and drawing. In fact you were the illustrator for your previous series, Kendra Kandlestar. How did it feel to have another illustrator work on your cover?
It was a lot of fun. I still illustrated a lot for Zoone, as part of the process. My visual designs and concepts for Zoone were handed directly to the cover artist, Evan Monteiro, and I feel he really drew inspiration from what I supplied. The characters even wear the same clothes as in the drawings I provided.
What was/is one of your favorite props you’ve made for it?
I’ve made a lot of props for the book, but I think my favorite is the traveler’s suitcase. Because Zoone is a crossroads, it’s full of people crossing to different locations, so I refurbished a vintage suitcase and covered it with travel stickers from some of the different worlds in the multiverse. In my imagination, the suitcase belongs to a wizard. Also, I should mention that the Multiversal Convention of Wizardry is taking place at Zoone when my main character, Ozzie, arrives, so I feel like this case is something Ozzie would have actually encountered.
What is one of your favorite kids’ books?
I love the books by Terry Pratchett, so one of my all time faves is The Wee Free Men. But my favorite book of 2018 is Front Desk by Kelly Yang. It’s a feel good story about the power of writing.
I know you also do a lot of creative writing teaching. What is a tip you’d give to young authors?
My main tip is to write A LOT. Don’t worry about writing epic novels, necessarily, just try to write as much as you can and explore different styles and formats.
What is next for you as an author?
I’m neck-deep in edits for Book 2 for Zoone and am also writing the third book. Then, it will probably be off to a whole new idea!
I'm definitely jealous of Lee's abilities--not only to world build, but also that he is so artistic and a great illustrator!
If you have had the patience to read through this WHOLE email, then give me an email with your address and the first three to respond will get one mini lucky winged horse, in honour of Wings of Olympus! And if any of you do end up picking up my book and reading it, I would so appreciate a review on Goodreads or Amazon--those reviews do really help writers :)
Next month--Ori turns one!