Good morning crew!
How are you all doing? How are you all keeping?
I hope you’re all well and looking after yourselves. I have an utter treat for you today. Today is my stop on the The Vanishing Trick blog tour and I had the joy of interviewing the author Jenni Spangler. I do love a good Q&A – I think they’re great fun and can be proper insightful!
“Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too. Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her. When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…”
The setting is so brilliantly vivid as you read, did you have to do a lot of research or was it based on a real life place?
A bit of both – there are real places in the book, and the grand country house was inspired by some of the beautiful National Trust houses in Staffordshire. The tricky bit was researching how these places would have been 150 years ago.
Which character did you have the most fun writing? Who was the most challenging?
Can I say the same character for both? I love writing villains so Madame Pinchbeck was so much fun to write, but it was also quite difficult – I wanted her to be both evil and charming, so readers looked forward to seeing her on the page. It was also important to make sure she was scary, but not TOO scary for the age group.
(Trust me, she’s a deliciously evil character)
Pinchbeck is such an interesting character, where did you get the inspiration for her from?
Women mediums were big news in the Victorian Era, and it was a really interesting subject to explore. We think of the Victorians as being really serious and stuffy, and of women in particular being very proper and repressed. But this was an area in which a woman could be the centre of attention, command an audience, and make a lot of money. That’s something that caught my imagination. Add to that the fun of ghosts and trickery, and a dash of the child-snatcher myths like the bogeyman, and Madame Pinchbeck started to take shape.
If you were going to be one of Pinchbeck’s children, what would your cabinet be?
I was going to say a teapot because it makes me think of cosy homes and friendship. On the other hand, I’m really clumsy and would probably smash it if I had to carry one around everywhere with me!
Tell us about your creative writing process? Do you get the character or the setting first?
It’s usually the characters that come first, but I tend to dream up characters who firmly belong in a certain setting, so they develop side by side.
What’s been the best bit of being an author so far?
I’ve barely dipped my toes into it, but so far I love school visits. It’s exhilarating to get a classroom full of children giggling at an obscure history fact or excited to make their own stories. I can’t wait to do lots more when circumstances allow.
(As a teacher, we LOVE LOVE LOVE author visits – they’re so much fun and the kids get so much from them!)
What’s next? Is there going to be more from these characters?
I’m not ruling it out entirely, but for now I’m leaving the children where they are and heading off to the theatre in Victorian Manchester, where a plucky stage hand and a paranoid inventor must deal with a machine that can predict the future – but only bad things.
We always love a recommendation here! What have you read recently that you’d recommend?
There are so many fantastic books out now that I’m not even keeping up, but one I’m loving is Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick. It’s the perfect mix of scary and funny and it’s the sort of book you could read in one night, under the covers with a torch.
(Can also vouch for Crater Lake… thoroughly enjoyed it!)
Today is the last day of the blog tour, so you should definitely go and check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour cause they’ve been great fun!
A massive thank you to Jenni and to the brilliant humans of Simon and Schuster Kids for sending me a review copy of the book. It’s a deliviously evil book and it’s got some really memorable characters that I think children are going to ADORE.