Today at the Inkpot, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Erica Orloff, a multi-published author over several genres and publishers, including Penguin, MIRA, HQN, Red Dress Ink, and Jabberwocky. As Erica Kirov, she is the author of the middle-grade fantasy The Magickeepers, published by Jabberwocky and released in hardcover this past May 1st. Not content with just one release at a time, her adult title, Freudian Slip, hit shelves on June 1st from HQN.
Ello – Thank you Erica for joining us today. You know I am a big fan. Especially of your awesome writers blog at www.ericaorloff.blogspot.com/. I think it is a great resource for writers and have always appreciated the time you put into it. So my first question is, being a multi-pubbed author, how does it feel every time one of your books comes out? Has it been consistent since your first release or is it different now?
Erica - I don't feel too "connected" to my releases in some way. Maybe it's a Buddhist thing about non-attachment, or maybe it's a sense of the surreal. It also feels very naked. Like most writers, I had scads of stuff that never will see the light of day; when you have a book come out, it is like saying to the whole world "READ ME!" Very strange. That said, I have been having a BALL with The Magickeepers because it's a book that my kids were really part of the process.
Erica - I think as soon as I could hold a pen. I remember writing stories about a dysfunctional mouse family living in
Ello - I would love to know what a typical writing day for you is.
Erica - There is no typical day, I guess. I have four kids, and I have learned to write in snatches of stolen moments between episodes of chaos. It is what it is. I do rise pretty early. But mostly, when I have those stolen moments, I know I have to write in the zone for all it's worth.
Ello - This is your first children's book right? What made you want to tackle middle grade fiction?
Erica - I'd written YAs for NAL as Liza Conrad. But I wanted to do a middle-grade because, first, I had the idea . . . and second, I wanted to be writing something on the level my kids could enjoy and we could talk about it. Previously, I don't know that they felt too much a part of my writing life.
Ello - How did this story come to you? What was your "AhA" moment? Did you pitch the idea to your agent first and get a green light or did you just move forward?
Erica - I had an idea: what if magic was real. Then it morphed into this blend of historical figures and magicians throughout time, and the Russian clan became a part of it. I "took a meeting" in NYC with one of the biggies when it was no more than a germ of an idea. The editor I pitched to liked the idea . . . but over time I think my vision morphed from his. However, I had a story bible and a firm first chapter and proposal that did get shopped to publishers--I think three or four of them. And then I met (via phone) the brilliant Lyron Bennett, who was starting the Jabberwocky line and I knew I wanted to work with him, and we eventually had a deal for the series.
Ello - How different was it writing this book compared to your adult titles?
Erica - Totally different. Night and day. It is so freeing to work in fantasy--the rules of our world don't apply. But then the challenge is building the rules of your new fictional world. Before I even started, I set down the magic laws that were going to govern the series. In Book II, one of them gets broken to huge consequences.
Ello - I love that you set your book in Las Vegas by the way! Especially the way you incorporated magic and what we consider magicians and magic shows in
Erica - It was just this tongue-in-cheek idea of, if you were a magician hiding your identity in plain sight, where would you hide? A magic act! And what better place than some incredible illusion show in
Ello - Let's talk about the research - because Magickeepers clearly is a well researched book. I loved the historical figures you used and the Russian culture in the book is rich and evocative. When you first thought of the idea, did you come up with a straight fantasy idea that you then built upon with research or did you know you were going to write a fantasy idea rich in history and culture? What about research is appealing to you?
Erica - I knew it would be about how magic is real but hidden in our world. And so then I knew I was blending the world we have (in Vegas, no less) with this magic world. Over time, with the ability of Nick to see into the past, and the idea of relics changing hands throughout time, the logical thing, at least for me, was not to have fictional characters passing the relics, but real historical figures who interacted with the fictional ones somehow. Book II has Sir Isaac Newton, for example. Book I has Houdini, Jean Houdin, Jules Verne, Rasputin, Anastasia, and you don't know it, but the poker game referred to by Nick's mother has a character in it who will appear again. But it's secret who it is.
Ello - I want to ask a question but I know it will spoil the book for readers and I will be reviled as pond scum, so instead I will ask when can we expect the sequel to the Magickeepers as I am antsy for it!!!
Erica - I know what you want to know, LOL! The next one will be out Spring 2010.
Ello – You are so mean! Ok, lastly - do you have any personal anecdote related to your Russian background that you would like to share?
Erica - My Russian grandmother was not very talkative. I could tell her experiences, escaping during the Russian Revolution, were painful. One day, out of the clear blue, she showed me a picture of a very handsome man and a very beautiful woman, a black and white picture, and she told me they were my cousins (hence it is no accident that Nick, in the Magickeepers, discovers he has all these cousins he knew nothing about). When I asked where they lived, she told me they were dead. When I pressed her, she got very emotional, and said, "They were sent to
Ello - Wow, that’s chilling. I think you have many more stories there for sure! Thanks Erica for stopping by the Inkpot! Best of luck on your book release. I know that I won’t be able to wait for the next release. I’ve also passed it on to my oldest daughter to read. I know she will love it!