Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Seventeen-year-old Carrie is lying in her backyard ignoring all the looming responsibilities in her life, when a fox makes a mad dash across the grass in front of her. After she manages to keep her dog from attacking the frightened animal, the fox turns to Carrie and seems to bow in gratitude before he disappears into the bushes. All Carrie knows in that moment is that something has unexpectedly changed in her life.
Carrie has been best friends with Lindsay Smith and Rebecca Campbell for years. During a summer when they should focus on choosing colleges, the girls suddenly find themselves swept away on the adventure of their lives. The fox reappears three days later and reveals to Carrie that he is Adom, emissary to the king of Hadariah. With his land of music and magic in peril, Adom has been sent to seek help from Carrie and her friends. In the blink of an eye, the three teenage girls go from living an average suburban life to being the champions of a world where they must contend with giants, witches, and magical beings. Will they ever make it home once more?
Interview with Author Alisse Lee Goldenberg
Can you briefly explain what The Strings of the Violin is about?
The Strings of the Violin is a novel based on characters and themes found in Eastern European folk lore. It is also a coming of age story for the main characters Carrie, Lindsay and Rebecca. These girls are going into their final year of high school and must make some serious decisions about where they want their lives to go, and what kind of adult they want to become.
During a summer when they should focus on choosing colleges, the girls suddenly find themselves swept away on the adventure of their lives. A fox appears and reveals to Carrie that he is Adom, emissary to the king of Hadariah. With his land of music and magic in peril, Adom has been sent to seek help from Carrie and her friends. In the blink of an eye, the three teenage girls go from living an average suburban life to being the champions of a world where they must contend with giants, witches, and magical beings.
What audience are you targeting?
I am targeting an audience that loves to read, and loves to think about what they read. I didn’t write this with a specific type of reader in mind, but I wrote the type of book I always wanted to read when I was younger, around high school age.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
This book came to me through the stories my grandmother used to tell me when I was a little girl. She grew up in Poland and was raised on such magical tales. These she would tell me as bedtime stories. The idea that these stories would still hold power in today’s modern world just grew into this book.
How long did it take to write the book?
It took me a few months of research, and a rough plotting before I finally sat down and wrote. From there, I think it took me just under a year before I began edits.
Can you describe your writing process, outlining, etc.?
I always like to have an outline when I write. It helps me if I know exactly where the story is going. The final outcome may change as I go, but if I’m writing with no real ending in sight, I find things may get a bit muddled plot wise.
If you could go back and change anything about the book, what would it be?
There are some characters that get introduced in the sequel. I think I would like to find a way to insert them in The Strings of the Violin and introduce them earlier.
Who is your favorite character and why?
My favourite character is Emilia. She is so different from the other girls in how she speaks, reacts to things, and her life experiences, and that made her so much fun to write.
What is your favorite genre and why?
My favourite genre has always been fantasy. As a reader, I love the escape it provides. In it, anything and everything is possible, and these possibilities just make every book you read a true adventure.
Did you run into any surprises along the way as you wrote? Did things take a different direction than you had planned?
Definitely. There were some characters I wanted to go in a certain direction, but as the plot unfurled, I realized that my original plans didn’t make sense for the character arcs that were taking shape. My characters had other plans for me, and I listened.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer as soon as I learned how to read. Once I realized what power words could hold, and how wonderful it was to read a story, I knew that this what what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the one writing the stories.
Are there any interesting things you’ve discovered about being an independent author? Do you have any suggestions for aspiring authors?
I have learned that you need to be more than just a writer. You need to be a marketer, promoter, and you need to be out there, engaging readers in every possible way.
What are some of your favorite authors and books?
One of my all-time favourite authors is Charles De Lint. He writes this incredible series of Urban Fantasy stories set in the fictional city of Newford, and they are incredibly rich in their basis in both North American and Irish folk lore. I also love the book The Hunter’s Moon by the author O.R. Melling. I first ready it when I was fourteen, and I keep coming back to it again and again. I never get tired of her characters.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading The Spirit in the Wires by Charles De Lint. The idea that our love of technology has created a mystical land in the computers is fantastic!
How do you juggle writing with being a mother of young children?
I do a lot of writing at night while they’re asleep! They also inspire a lot of new and interesting plot ideas. Watching them play is inspiring.
Will there be a sequel? And what are you working on next?
There is a sequel in the works. I have it completed and am finishing my final round of personal edits before it gets sent in to the publisher. I also have a more traditional young adult fantasy novel coming out at the end of October with Pandamoon Publishing called Sitnalta.
Carrie stared at the small collection of leaves. How could she possibly fit through that? She hesitated, and one of her hands sought her necklace. She gave a small shrug and got down on all fours. As she approached the bush she heard her dog barking hysterically from the house. “Bye, Finn,” she whispered and crawled forward.
Was she shrinking? Was the bush getting larger? Whatever was happening, it was clearly magic. Carrie crawled onward. Branches and leaves caught in her hair, tore at her pack. The tunnel (for she was now sure there was a tunnel in that collection of twigs) seemed to go on forever. Carrie was keenly aware of everything around her. Her eyes sharply saw each leaf in stark detail, the way the light filtered through the holes in the foliage and dappled everything in a mossy green. She heard every breaking branch under her knees and hands with a sharp, resounding crack that seemed to stab the silence in the air around her. She felt their sharp ends scratch her hands through the velvety moss that carpeted the ground she crawled over. Her lungs breathed in the moist air—cleaner than the air of cities and suburbs. More real, more nourishing than anything she was used to. She smelled rain, grass, soil, devoid of all those man-made smells from home. The overabundance of oxygen made her head heavy; her heart felt as if it would burst.
Just as she thought she would never reach the end of her journey, she abruptly found her-self kneeling under a night sky, surrounded by a primeval forest, the likes of which she had never seen before. Carrie stood up on shaky legs, speechless, in another world.
Win a signed paperbook of The Strings of the Violin, plus a tote bag. Offer limited to U.S. and Canada residents only. Contest ends October 18, 2013.