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09 June 2010 @ 12:07 am
The Basilisk's Lair, Beastologist #2 - Interview with R.L. LaFevers  
Today the Inkies have a special treat for you all. My 11-year old daughter, Summer, interviewed the fabulous R.L. LaFevers for the release of her newest Beastologist book, the Basilisk's Lair. Summer is a veteran interviewer on my personal blog (in fact, she recently interviewed our own Kate Milford!) but this is her first time at the Inkpot. I hope you enjoy Summer's interview with Robin.

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.  
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?!!!

Leah_Cypessleah_cypess on June 9th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
This was seriously awesome! Summer, can you be the official Inkpot interviewer? (just kidding... well, maybe we could put it to a vote...)
charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com on June 9th, 2010 10:00 am (UTC)
Thanks for the great interview!

This book is already on my mental "presents to buy son for upcoming birthday" but I wouldn't say no to winning a copy! and the 3rd book!
Devadeva_fagan on June 9th, 2010 11:02 am (UTC)
Great interview, Summer and Robin! I don't need to be entered in the contest, but I wanted to say thank you for giving us some insights into the world of the Beastologist!
captainstupendous.wordpress.com on June 9th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
Great interview!
Boy, Summer is really building up that resume - we might have the new Betsy Bird on our hands here. Please enter me in the contest, I'm a big fan of Robin's work.
(Deleted comment)
marissa_doylemarissa_doyle on June 9th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
You asked fabulous questions, Summer...my votes on you for Inkpot interviewer! Tell your mom to investigate getting a house rabbit. They're perfect pets for people who write...and it looks like there are least two awesome writers in the Oh household.
kjankowski on June 9th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
What a fun interview! I always enjoy learning new things about authors. Thanks to Summer and Robin.
(Anonymous) on June 9th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
Me too!
Great interview! I've already ordered both for my library, but I really, really, really want to see the 3rd book now!

redwriterhoodredwriterhood on June 10th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
A very well-done and *fun* interview! I now wish I had a pocket griffin. :-)

rllafeversrllafevers on June 10th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
LOL. Re-reading that, I realize I didn't state that very clearly. Griffins are NOT pocket-sized. :-) In the slightest. It's the gremlins that are tiny. My bad.
redwriterhood: Einsteinredwriterhood on June 11th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Maybe the discovery of some mutant, pocket-sized griffins could be in Nathaniel's future. Or maybe there's some sort of sad disease afflicting griffins, preventing them from growing, and he finds the miracle cure. :-)
A Deserving Porcupinerockinlibrarian on June 10th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this interview, but I haven't been able to think of a worthwhile comment to make on it since. So I guess I'll just have to leave a non-worthwhile comment to get in on the giveaway contest!
ellen_ohellen_oh on July 7th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
Congratulations, rockinlibrarian! You are the winner of the ARC prizes! Let's email each other with contact information. My email address is ello.echo@gmail.com

(Anonymous) on June 10th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Great interview, Summer! (And Robin, of course.) I'm a Theodora fan but haven't yet met Nate and Greasle...obviously I have to stop sitting on my hands. The books sound wonderful, and I love the fact that they were born in a bestiary!

Also love the story about trying to fight Greasle's arrival because she isn't in a bestiary. Isn't it funny that sometimes the best things (in life as well as in manuscripts) come out of left field like that? And it's such a gift to recognize them and let them in.

ebooraem on June 10th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
That was me up above. Rats. Thought I'd cured myself of this tendency toward anonymity.
ext_224887 on June 10th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
Loved this interview!
Awesome! It's great to see an interview by a younger reader. You asked really good questions, Summer, and your enthusiasm was geniune.
I love reading middle grade fantasy as I am writing a book in this genre seen through the eyes of a cat.
Please drop my name in the hat to win a copy.
Rahma Krambo
natalieag on June 11th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC)
Re: Loved this interview!
Summer, your interview was great. You thought of such good questions.

Robin, I love mythological animals too. The ones you've chosen sound awesome. I haven't read this series yet, but I can't wait to.
I'd love to win.
ms_lefebvrems_lefebvre on June 11th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
Great interview/interviewer/interviewee (author)

Love the books, can't wait for book 3!
jenlapa on June 11th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Loved the interview! Can't wait for Beastologist #3 to come out! My kids & I got hooked on them when we won an ARC of #2. And we love Theodosia, which is the first character of Ms LaFevers' that we ever read. Just completed #3 of those and loved it! Keep up the good work, Robin! And you, too, Summer!
(Anonymous) on June 13th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
That was a great interview. Nice questions, Summer, all things I wanted to know more about as well.

Librarian D.O.A.
chris_brodien on June 14th, 2010 12:42 pm (UTC)
Sorry I'm late in posting this, just wanted to say many thanks, Summer, for a fantastic interview - Nathaniel Fludd sounds like an amazing series, Robin - I love the idea of using mythical beasts, and I'm a huge fan of griffins (gryphons?), pocket or otherwise!
kikihamiltonkikihamilton on June 14th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you Summer and Robin for such a great, informative interview. I love research too, and Nathan's world sounds so fascinating!! Can't wait to dig in!!

And Summer - can I reserve a spot now for you to interview me for my book next May?
anesbetanesbet on June 21st, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)
Great interview, Summer and Robin! I'm a Theodosia-and-Egyptology fan, but I can see that Beastology must be a very exciting field of study, too.