Hi everyone, my name is Summer Oh and I am 11-years old and I am in 5th grade and starting middle school in the fall. I love sports, especially soccer, basketball, and tennis. I also play the violin and piano. I have 2 younger sisters who are crazy, wild, and reckless, but I love them. I read at least 8 or more books a month during the school year and read even more during summer vacation. As you can tell, I love to read.
I'm a very big fan of the Theodosia series because of the Egyptian mythology and all the cool cursed and dead things. So I was really excited when I got a package from Ms. LaFevers with the 2 Beastologist books in it. They were very different from Theodosia but were still so much fun to read. It's a pleasure for me to get to interview such an awesome author who is also pretty cool and super nice too! Plus I always learn such interesting stuff from her!
Summer - Hi Ms. LaFevers! I loved the Beastologist books and I was curious to know why you chose to use magical beasts instead of Egyptian magic like in Theodosia? What inspired you to write these books?
Ms. LaFevers - One of the reasons I chose mythical beasts instead of Egyptian magic was because I wanted a little vacation from the elements in the Theodosia books. After writing two, I’d basically been working with Theodosia and her world for over three years and I wanted to play with something different. I also knew that I wanted these to be shorter chapter books, but with a fantasy element, so I tried to think of a fantasy world that could be fully developed in much shorter books.
I stumbled on the idea of mythical beasts when I was browsing through a medieval bestiary and looking at a collection of old maps that featured ferocious beasts. I thought, that would be a fun world to write about! Plus I have always been crazy in love with animals.
Summer - I love animals too! Me and my sisters have been trying to convince my mom to get us a dog or cat but no luck so far. Anyway, in book one, you write about the phoenix and in book two you write about the basilisk. If you could be a magical creature which would you be? What characteristics do you have that can be found in your favorite magical creature?
Ms. LaFevers - If I was able to be a magical creature it would be a toss up between a phoenix and a griffin, which has the head and wings of an eagle, and the body of a lion. I would love the power and strength of the griffin, but the characteristic I most share with any magical creature is an undying capacity for hope, so I think that I am probably most similar to the phoenix. Plus I seem to sort of self destruct every few years and manage to rebuild my life—very much a phoenix trait!
Summer - Greasle is so cute and funny. She has a very perky personality. I like that even though everyone says gremlins are bad, Nate makes friends with her and she turns out to be a good friend. And in both book one and two, she’s quite heroic even though she is really really small. What inspired her character? Will we learn more about gremlins in book 3?
Mrs. LaFevers - Greasle the little gremlin was one of those magical moments in writing that I adore. When I first began book one in the series, she was no where in sight. But about 2/3 of the way through the first draft, I realized it was b-o-r-i-n-g. Travel just by itself was boring, but that’s such a big part of the books—traveling around the world. So I’d tried to brainstorm ways to make the travel part of the book more exciting and got the idea for Aunt Phil to send Nate out to the propeller. I had NO idea there would be a gremlin on the propeller, though. She just appeared in the story and that was that. I tried to fight it at first, because there were no gremlins in bestiaries, but I quickly realized she was too critical to the story and so she stayed.
As for learning more about gremlins, well, we’ll learn more about them through watching Greasle…
Summer - If you could keep a magical creature (including feeding, cleaning and taking care of it) which would you have? I personally would want a flying dragon cause they are super cool!
Ms. LaFevers - I would want either something tiny that I could keep with me all the time, like a gremlin, or a griffin—just because I am awed by them for some reason. A dragon would be too big, plus I’d hate to have to clean up after him.
Summer - That's what my mom says about dogs!
If someone read Beastologist, what lessons do you hope they learn? I learned that you’re important no matter what. I could see that in Nate and Greasle.
Ms. LaFevers - You know, I try really hard NOT to put lessons in my books because I personally hate being lectured to. However, what I believe about life does find its way into my books, and in that case I’d say I’d love for readers to learn two things. 1) As you said, you’re important no matter what, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant are—you matter. 2) Courage comes in all shapes and sizes. No matter how small or timid you are, you have the capacity to do heroic things. In fact, the smaller you are or the more timid you are, the more courage it takes, which actually makes you braver than someone who is bigger or not afraid.
Summer - Speaking of bigger, I'm almost as tall as my Mom! I like to tell everyone that! :o)
I really liked the different cultures that were in your books. First the Bedouins and then the Dhugani. Was it hard doing all the research? Have you ever been to Arabia or Africa?
Ms. LaFevers - Are you kidding? I adore research! That was half the fun! And no, I’ve never been to Arabia or Africa, but I was able to find all sorts of books about those places as well as all sorts of information on the internet. One of the things that was a challenge was learning how those places would have been back in 1928. There’s a lot of information about how they are today, but finding out how it was over 80 years ago was a little more challenging.
Summer - I like that you have a lot of mysteries in your books. Like the letters that Nate never got from his parents, and the ginger haired man. But I don’t like that I have to wait to find out the answers. :o(
Ms. LaFevers - I’m so sorry you have to wait for answers! But I really wanted to avoid the books in the series being just a string of unrelated adventures. First we go here, then we mosey there. I wanted them to be interconnected, to propel the reader from one book into the next. In order to do that, I had to raise dramatic questions in the reader’s mind—but not too many. I didn’t want to frustrate readers—merely entice them.
Summer - I'm not frustrated, just impatient. My mom says I really have to work on being patient but that takes too long and I'm impatient!
What magical creatures are coming up next? In future books, will you show us some more about the Book of Beasts and the map of where they are in the world? I thought that it was so interesting that the Fludd's had created this beastologist book and map. It made me really curious to read it.
Ms. LaFevers - There are all sorts of fun creatures coming up! Book three features a wyvern—a type of western European dragon and book four is about unicorns. After that there’ll be selkies and krakens and griffins and manticores. Also a Chinese dragon (as opposed to a European dragon.) Possibly trolls and a yeti. Part of the fun of writing a series like this is waiting to see what shows up on the page once I begin writing.
Like you, I am fascinated by the Fludd Geographica, or map of the world. Here is some link to map that inspired the Geographica. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Summer, thank you for asking such terrific questions (once again!)
Summer - Thanks Ms. LaFevers for letting me interview you again. I learn so much from you and I really love reading your books!
So that's my interview! I hope you all liked it. And if you leave me a comment, Ms. LaFevers is going to choose one of you to win a copy of The Basilisk's Lair and an ARC of the 3rd book in the series.
An ARC of the 3rd book? Hey Mom, can I leave a comment too?!!!