Thursday, May 28, 2009
Introducing Magickeepers - an interview with Erica Kirov
Besides having one of the coolest covers I’ve ever seen, Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass can also boast a fantastic story. Nick’s a kid we all might know – one who slacks a little here and there and is looking forward to a summer filled with nothing but junk food, sleeping in, and skateboarding.
Instead, he’s whisked away to live with relatives he didn’t know he had who perform the most successful magic act in Vegas – and Nick will be on stage with them, except the magic will be more than an act. The story itself is fun and fast paced, with enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing. The characters are people you’d love to get to know in real life, including some names in history you may have heard tales of already – like Houdini and Rasputin.
I want to thank Erica Kirov, for taking the time to allow us to interview her, and for volunteering to stop in at the comments to talk with all of our readers. Feel free to ask any questions you’d like about the book, or about writing and publishing in general.
To find out more about the books, stop by the Magickeepers Website or visit Erica’s Magickeeper’s blog, which are also moderated and kid-friendly.
My eleven year old daughter, Gracie, wanted to ask some of the questions, so I’ll turn it over to her to start us out:
Grace: Were you always interested in magicians or was it something new to you for the story?
Erica: I actually LOVE magic acts, and I am always trying to figure out the tricks. (Not very successfully, I might add. I can never figure them out!) So then I had an idea for a book--and like nearly every book idea it started with two words: What if? What if magic was real?
Grace: How did you get the inspiration to write the book?
Erica: Once I had my "what if" question, I let that sort of rest inside me for a bit. Then little by little a world where magicians had to hide their true identities emerged. And then I came up with the idea of a diaspora (a big SAT word meaning when a people scatter) out of ancient Egypt of magicians to places all over the world. And my clan--the Russians--came to me. My father's family is Russian, so that part was kind of easy to come up with.
Grace: If you were Nick Rostov, would you have done anything different? Are you like the main character and what ways are you alike or different?
Erica: That is a really good question. I don't know that I would have been as brave as Nick or have come up with the ending (don't want to spoil it for anyone). I actually am very different from Nick in that I LOVED school and like to read and study--and he obviously doesn't. But he is VERY patient with the Grand Duchess, and I am like that with older people. I love that they have these wonderful stories they can pass along to the next generation. And I also remember not liking the food my grandmother cooked--so I would be like him there. Russian food is definitely an acquired taste. And I guess finally that he gets frustrated easily . . . that is me through and through.
Grace: When you turned the book in to your publisher, did they ask you to change things - and what kind of things do you have to change?
Erica: You will be very surprised, perhaps, to hear the book originally was ONLY about a girl. But before I officially started it, my editor asked if I would make it about a boy. We compromised . . . and so we have Nick and Isabella. They each have gifts unique to them--Nick cannot control animals ever. Once I turned the entire book in, I was asked to add more history (my editor LOVES that part of the story). And the ending changed a lot--my editor wanted more danger!
And now, for some questions of my own:
Merry: This is your first middle grade novel - did you decide you'd like to write to that age bracket and then the idea for the story came to you - or did the idea for the story come first and it was a perfect fit for middle grade?
Erica: I actually wanted to write a middle grade book. I have four children . . . one is a grown-up already (well, she's 19, and I consider her a grown-up). One is 14, one is 11, and my little guy is a VERY mischievous 4 year old. And pretty much, though I have been a novelist for years, it was always very separate from them. A book would come out, and they would sort of shrug or say "Congratulations." But since the books were adult novels, they didn't get to read them and didn't feel part of my writing world. This has been something we got to do together--especially the 14- and 11-year-old. So I did want to write one and I had a couple of ideas, but none felt right. And then out of the blue, I got my "what if magic was real" idea . . . and it grew from there.
Merry: Russian history and heritage is a large part of the story of Magickeepers - did your own Russian heritage play a role in your life and did some of your own traditions make it into the novel?
Erica: My mother's side of the family is Slavic, and actually, they have more traditions. My father's side is very small--but it is a very small family since so many of them were murdered during the Russian Revolution. Very few survived. So that history was always a part of my life, knowing that they experienced this very dark tragedy and it colored the survivors’ lives.
Merry: This is the first series you've created - did you approach the plotting or writing of this novel differently than you have approached your previously published stand alone novels? In what ways does writing a series differ from writing a single title?
Erica: For me, it was like night and day and a LOT harder. I had to have a very clear idea of the battle between the Shadowkeepers and Magickeepers over many years of the story. I had to see well ahead at least two books . . . I had to hold some secrets back. And now that I am in the middle of the second one, I can say that I have to make sure there's enough background for people who didn't read the first--without boring those who DID read the first. A very tricky thing. What I have done differently, too, is create a story bible, so I can keep things straight over a period of years (this first book was a three-year-process, just about). And now I am in the middle of creating a historical timeline because matching historical dates to make sure characters could really have met each other in time has been super difficult.
Okay, guys, it’s your turn. What questions or comments would you like to add?