Continuing her two stop blog tour here on A Good Addiction is Shutta Crum, author of Thomas and the Dragon Queen, to do an interview! Stick around after the interview for you chance to win a copy of this book that is especially great for the younger crowd, boys and girls alike!
Why did you decide to have one of Thomas' traits to be that he's the smallest of the squires?
I had just finished reading a short, wonderful book by Jerry Griswold titled: Feeling Like a Kid. (John Hopkins University Press, 2006.) He spoke about five elements that appeal to children in the best children’s books. Those five elements were littleness, lightness, scariness, coziness, and aliveness. By “aliveness” he means the idea that anything could be alive; after all when we are very young we are just learning what it means to be alive. Why couldn’t candlesticks also dance and sing?
Littleness is something all young children can relate to. When the blame comes down; who always gets fingered? The littlest. The youngest. The weakest. (For ex., Mosquito in Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema.) And every hero must have a flaw. Thomas’ flaw is his stature. His talent is that he doesn’t let that deter him.
(BTW: I think reading Griswold’s Feeling Like a Kid, should be required reading for anyone thinking about writing for kids!)
If you could take any character from any book to go with Thomas on his quest, who would you pick?
If I could have any other character go with Thomas it would be Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli’s wonderful character by the Newbery winning book of the same name. I love Maniac! He’s a doer, not a talker. He’s non-judgmental and brings out the best in others. He would be a perfect companion for Thomas when facing Bridgoltha, or dealing with the dragonlets. MANIAC MAGEE also happens to be at the very top of the list of my favorite children’s books.
What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?
WAH! What a question . . . as if. But I will tell you that I have rather quietly admitted (on my webpage somewhere) to a childhood nickname that I used in my semi-autobiographical picture book, MY MOUNTAIN SONG. (Clarion, 2004. Illustrated by the talented Ted Rand.) Don’t tell anyone, but one of my nicknames was “Shuck Beans.”
You will know what those are if you’re a true Kentuckian. They’re green bean pods that have been strung on string, hung up and allowed to dry much like one does hot peppers. The beans once they are dry will keep for a long time. To cook them you dust them off, take the strings out, soak them overnight and then boil them for about a day with a ham hock or other meat, etc. Why I got that nickname, I’ve no idea. If you’ve read MY MOUNTAIN SONG you know there is a crazy cousin in it who gives nicknames to everyone and everything. He may have given it to me when I was tiny.
Finally, to finish this talk of names up, let me tell you that my given name of Shutta was my dad’ nickname. I was the oldest grandchild on one side of the family, and to keep folks from arguing about whom to name me after he simply decided I’d get his nickname. His first name was Melvin. So how did he get his nickname of Shutta? Considering he was a non-stop talker and great storyteller, I have my hunches . . .
If you could step into anyone's shoes for a day, who's life would you want to experience?
Oh…another hard question! So many people, past and present, to choose from! This is really difficult. I can’t decide between Neil Armstrong on the day he stepped on to the moon or Shakespeare. I’d love to solve the mystery of who wrote all those wonderful plays. I’d love to be in Shakespeare’s mind--to be either an almost illiterate actor, or a great writer. On the other hand . . . to actually have walked somewhere besides on the Earth! How cool is that? Can’t I be two people, for a half day each?
What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?
Definitely a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips and chocolate frosting. This may not be terribly original, but it’s honest. I’m an admitted chocoholic. My hubby celebrates whenever I make a dessert that does not have chocolate in it. Poor guy . . . having to put up with all the chocolate in the house!
Thank you, Shutta, for those great answers!
Now to win a copy of Thomas and the Dragon Queen, fill out this form!
Contest is US only. Ends October 10.