Word Spelunking Interview

A Conversation With The Author

The following interview has been excerpted from an interview at Word Spelunking. Read the whole story »


What three words best describe your book, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard? 

Aux: Mysterious, wonder-filled, bookish

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince young readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard?

Aux: Sophie Quire is a swashbuckling adventure about a girl who must hunt down and protect a set of mysterious books that can answer any question asked of them. I was a reluctant reader growing up, and wrote Sophie because it’s the book I wish someone had given me when I was that age. Also, it has a ton of monsters in it.

Grab a copy of Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard and answer the following:

Favorite chapter? Aux: My favorite chapter might be “Highway Robbery” in which Sophie finds herself being kidnapped in a carriage on a moonlit road—only to have a highwayman show up and kidnap her again. Needless to say, things do not turn out as planned for said highwayman!

Favorite page? Aux: I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think my last page is pretty swell. I still get a little shiver when I read the final lines.

Favorite setting? Aux: My favorite setting has got to be the Lighthouse at the End of the World. The lighthouse is a huge, rickety structure, cobbled together from dozens of derelict ships that sit at the literal edge of the world. The place entirely populated with creatures and characters from fairy tales that Sophie has grown up reading about—never once realizing that they were actually real.  

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser: 

Aux: From an early chapter, when Sophie first discovers The Book of Who:

“Hello,” Sophie said, and for a moment, she almost thought she could feel the book vibrating beneath her fingers. As if it wanted to say “hello” back to her. 



What inspired the series? How did the idea for Peter Nimble and Sophie Quire come to be?

Aux: All of my stories come from sketches in my journals. In the case of Sophie Quire, the whole story was sparked by a drawing of a girl mending books in a city that was determined to burn all of its stories. 


Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, Sophie? What makes her unique, what do you love about her?

Aux: Sophie is sort of a tribute to every girl I’ve ever known who grew up loving to read. She is a true outsider in her world—the only person who cares for stories that other people would rather cast aside. One of the exciting challenges in the story was seeing how heroic I could make her without actually giving her “powers” of any kind: figuring out how a smart-but-ordinary twelve year old girl be able to contend with monsters and wicked villains.


If you could visit ANY world from ANY book, which would you choose and what would you do there?

Aux: I recall crying actual tears as I finished reading the last pages of Watership Down as a kid. At the end of that breathtaking epic tale, I wanted nothing more that to live with those rabbits forever.


What is your all time favorite middle-grade book and/or character?

Aux: Those who know me know that I am a huge fan of Peter Pan, which to me is an almost perfect story. As for favorite character, I might say Matilda Wormwood from Matilda (a character who played a major inspiration for Sophie Quire).


What do you love about writing middle-grade books? Why do you think middle-grade literature is so popular and important?

Aux: My favorite children’s books are often about those last moments of childhood right before you pass into the next phase of life. The themes in those kinds of stories—nostalgia, loss of innocence, finding home, discovering one’s true self—are things that I will never outgrow because they appear again and again in my life.  


Fill in the blanks:

I’m really awesome at yo-yo tricks.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that canned meat products give me gas.

The last great book I read was Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott


If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, what would it look like and taste like and what would you call it?

Aux: Sophie Quire ventures down a long river called the Wassail, named after the spiced beverage sung about in that old Christmas carol “Here We Go A-Wassailing.” So the cakes would probably taste like hot wassail. They would have dark purple frosting that glittered slightly under direct moonlight, and when you bit into them, they would be unexpectedly warm. People would call them Wassail Cakes.