Interview – Lauren DeStefano and A Curious Tale of the In-Between
First things first. Look at that book jacket.
Gaze upon it. Feast thine peeper upon its delightful creepy factor. That’s a cover, my friends. And it takes a good book to live up to it. Fortunately, A Curious Tale of the In-Between hasn’t exactly been lacking for the stellar reviews. As Kirkus put it, “DeStefano artfully concocts a moving and multilayered tale that is an effective mix of genres and tones, at times contemplative and philosophical yet also macabre and psychologically sophisticated. Love, loss, and hope are at the heart of this exciting read.”
You’ll understand then why I was intrigued when Bloomsbury offered unto me Ms. Lauren DeStafano herself for an interview. And actually, I saw her speak in person years ago. Remember the YA Chemical Garden trilogy? That was her! So saying, she agreed to my probing queries:
Betsy Bird: Hello! Thank you so much for acquiescing to a rousing series of questions. First things first, though. What we have here appears to be a book by the name of A CURIOUS TALE OF THE IN-BETWEEN. Can you give us a run down of what it’s about?
Lauren DeStefano: I like to describe it as a love story between a living girl, a living boy, and a ghost.
BB: Well, how did you come to write it? Which is to say, why did you make it a middle grade book (for ages 9-12) and not YA. You are, after all, the author of two New York Times bestselling YA series. Why the switch into younger territory?
LD: When I wrote this story, I wasn’t conscious of the idea that it would get published, so things like MG and YA weren’t in my head. I had an idea about a girl who had a peculiar condition that caused her to conspire with ghosts, and I began to write it. After dinner one night, my cousin, who I think was 8 or so at the time, asked me to tell her a story. I told her about this one, though it was only half finished at the time. Her interest and questions really surprised me, and I began to wonder if Pram did have something to offer to younger readers.
BB: I know that writing books on the younger end requires an entirely different set of muscles than writing for the YA crowd. How was writing this book for you? Did anything surprise you along the way?
LD: Writing for younger readers was nothing but a joyous experience from start to finish. I had little of the fears and insecurities I have when tackling some of my other endeavors. All I had to do was believe in magic and let that carry me to the end.
BB: Great. Now when an author gets a particularly good cover on their newest title I like to say they’ve made small animal sacrifices to the book jacket gods. You fall into that category perfectly. How do you like it?
LD: I LOVE it. I wish I could claim credit, but that all goes to my designers.
BB: This book has already been compared to Coraline, which is sort of the de facto thing reviewers say when dealing with gothic middle grade literature. What are some of the books for kids you’d equate it with? Related (or maybe not) what did you like to read when you were a kid?
LD: That is an incredibly flattering and humbling comparison, and I’m honored to hear that. I don’t know if, plot-wise or voice-wise, I could compare it to any particular work off the top of my head. When I was a young reader, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was my most treasured book and I obsessed over it for months. It reached me on some cosmic level that made me feel understood. I would just hope this story could do that for someone else.
BB: And finally, what are you working on next?
LD: A tangled web of secrets and intrigue.
Many thanks to Ms. DeStefano for submitting herself to questions that, I am sure, she has answered many times before and will answer many times again. And thanks too to Bloomsbury for offering her up to me in the first place.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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