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Claire M. Caterer was born in the Motor City and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City. After several years of working in publishing in New York, she returned to the KC metro, where she lives today. She writes full time and shares her home with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a host of imaginary friends. The Key & the Flame, an American Booksellers for Children New Voices pick, is her first novel.
1. What is your favorite color? Ocean blue—both the deep sea and that gorgeous, blue-green color of Caribbean lagoons.
2. Favorite food? Dinner: spaghetti with marinara sauce. Dessert: Christmas cookies.
3. Favorite movie of all time? Of all time? Too hard to choose. But I do really love West Side Story and the whole Katharine Hepburn / Spencer Tracy canon.
4. Favorite song? “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. I love the original Judy Garland version, but also many of the more modern versions.
5. Favorite book of all time?
For adults: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The voice is perfect, the story timeless, the writing gorgeous. And Atticus Finch manages to singlehandedly redeem the image of the American Southern father.
For kids: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It’s the story that transported me to the realm of my imagination over and over when I was growing up, and it saw me through some very tough times.
All about Writing
1. How did your interest in writing originate?
I’ve been interested in writing as long as I can remember. When I was as young as five, if someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was “I want to write books.” Stories have always held a fascination for me, and when I found out people were actually paid to invent them, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
2. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I love to write in the morning. As soon as I get everyone out of the house—husband off to work, daughter off to school—I revel in the quiet and write for two to three hours. I try to write 1,000-1,250 words a day when I’m in the middle of a project. Then I take a break and answer emails, write blog posts or newsletters, or do other promotional tasks. Afternoons I generally do research or office work. If I’m nearing a deadline, the writing takes precedence. When I finished up the sequel to The Key & the Flame, I locked myself in my office for the weekend and pounded out 20,000 words. That’s a ton for me.
3. Do you work with an outline or just write?
I always have at least a rough outline. It will likely morph and change as I go on, but I have to know where the story is going for it to make sense to me.
4. What was the hardest part in writing your book? The easiest?
The hardest part of writing The Key & the Flame was keeping the plot reined in. It wanted to meander all over the place, and I was throwing so much into it that initially it was about 50 percent longer than it ended up being. I had to keep reminding myself, “I can save this bit for another book.”
The easiest part was writing the action scenes. They just flew by. That doesn’t mean they didn’t need rewriting—everything does!—but they came out of my head without much effort.
5. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I read an awful lot. But I also love getting outside—walking in the woods, watching a thunderstorm, climbing a hill and coming upon a glorious sunset in the valley below. I adore theater, especially really good musical theater. It’s a big stress release to belt out the songs as loud as I can (mind you, I do refrain from that while at the theater). I also enjoy traveling to and exploring new places.
Finish the sentence
1. The difference between fiction and reality is that the best fiction—even fantasy—deepens our understanding of reality.
2. Research is what I'm doing when I’m eavesdropping, spying, or people watching.
3. I can write better when I’m in a quiet, empty house, the window is open, a warm breeze wafts inside, and my cup of coffee is cooling on the desk.
4. Sleep is an excellent way to let your imagination loose to play.
5. A room without a book is a cold and lonely place.
Title: The Key & The Flame
Genre/s: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Expected Publication: April 2, 2013
Buy: Amazon | Barnes&Nobles | Book Depo
Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard wants nothing more than to seek adventure outside of her humdrum American life. She gets her chance at last when her family travels to England and Holly receives an unusual gift: an iron key that unlocks a passage to the dangerous kingdom of Anglielle, where magic is outlawed and those who practice magic are hunted. When her friend Everett and brother Ben are captured by Anglielle’s ruthless king, Holly must rescue them. But that means finding—and using—the magic within herself and learning which magical allies she can trust. The Key & the Flame is the first in a brand-new fantasy adventure series for ages 8 and up.
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