I stumbled across this book on Facebook, and when I saw the cover, I knew I had to feature it. THE VERDIGRIS PAWN is a middle grade fantasy that offers a richly built world and unforgettable characters:
A boy who underestimates his power . . .
A girl with a gift long thought lost . . .
A Land ready for revolution . . .
The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power.
That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden. For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right.
Teaming up with a fiery runaway boy, their mission quickly turns into something far greater as sinister forces long lurking in the shadows prepare to make their final move—no matter what the cost. But it just might be Beau who wields the power he seeks . . . if he can go from pawn to player before the Land tears itself apart.
According to your website bio, you have rescue dogs from Alexandria, Egypt. How did you come to find dogs from such a great distance?
Thank you for asking about my puppers! The story begins a bit sadly, but it ends on a happy note: We’ve always had dogs in our family – in fact one of my husband’s wedding presents to me was our first dog, a Gordon Setter named Zeke. And after we moved out of the city to the country we’ve always had at least two, and at times three dogs.
Well, four years ago we lost all three of our dogs in horribly rapid succession – one passed from old age, another was sick, and the third died unexpectedly. Needless to say we were bereft.
We decided to take a few months before bringing anyone new into the house, just to give us time to grieve. And at the same time I’d made up my mind that when we did get a dog again, we’d get two at the same time and let them grow up together.
Well, those few months never happened. My husband happened to see a post on social media from a friend whose neighbor was a flight attendant. One of her regular routes was to/from Egypt, where she had friends who she worked with to rescue street dogs.vWell, she had just recently returned with two pups, one who was three months, and the other who was five months.
Needless to say, we went to meet them and were completely smitten! I mean look at those faces! And so Princess and Sugar became Lucy and Cleo.
They are truly the sweetest, funniest people. And although I might complain from time to time, I do appreciate having to step away from my work to take them on their many daily walks.
So adorable! THE VERDIGRIS PAWN features a protagonist who has been sheltered and locked away from the truth. How did you know this was integral to Beau’s development as a character?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to turn the idea of the chosen one on its head for this story. What happens when the chosen one doesn’t want to be chosen? But more than that I’ve always been keenly interested in how history and truth are distorted and intentionally obscured in order to control the narrative. I’m also fascinated by how the powerful come to power, and how they stay in power. In order to explore these themes I knew I needed a protagonist who was sheltered, who only knew what had been spoon fed to him.
But in the bigger scheme of things ,these middle grade years are so important and seminal to our growth as individuals. It’s a time when we’re just beginning to realize that there is no such thing as 100% certainty, that no one can really ever know what’s going to happen, and that there are more questions than answers. I wanted Beau’s internal journey to reflect this time of coming to terms with these hard truths – learning that all too much he’d been taught about his world had been curated and that it was his responsibility as a person to push against the narratives he’d been fed.
Even though Beau has more privilege than 99.99% of the people in the Land, he sees himself as powerless to affect change. As long as he’s under his father’s thumb he thinks he’s unable to do anything for anyone else.
But is he?
Beau comes to learn what I think a lot of us have to learn, which is even if we don’t perceive ourselves as having any privileges or the “right “kind, we have a responsibility to use everything we do have – even those things we perceive as flaws – to serve the greater good.
And sometimes our flaws can even be our assets! You also include recipes from THE VERDIGRIS PAWN on your website. What a great idea! What inspired you to share this with readers?
I am always inspired by food! I think we can learn so much about people from the food they eat, and the foods they have no access to. I love writing about the sensory details of my worlds, and you don’t get much more sensory than food—whether that’s finding sawdust in your bread (which is, sadly an accurate historical fact) or biting into a strawberry hand pie for the first time in your life.
I wanted to share a bit of Beau’s world with readers in a really tangible way.
And also . . . they’re reallllly yummy recipes, I couldn’t keep them all to myself!
I’m so glad you didn’t! What are some of your current projects?
I’m working on a number of new projects, none of which I can get too specific about yet, but I will say I have two more middle-grade novels in the works right now. Both include fantastical elements, and both take place in quasi-historical time periods.
The first one takes place in a world that looks a lot like the 1910’s. It begins on an Island enclave–something like Mackinaw Island—then moves to a heavily industrialized city. There’s a theater, blossoming friendships, and a very fantastical and dark mystery at the heart of the story.
My other project takes places between 1917 and 1920 across several lands some of which might look like Russia, an Island nation like Cuba, and America. This is a story about losing your place in the world and trying to find a new one. It’s also about what we inherit from previous generations and how to reclaim our magic.
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