Monday, February 6, 2012

MG Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Interview with Anne Nesbet

I'm beyond delighted to speak with author Anne Nesbet this month. Anne's magical, wonderful debut MG novel The Cabinet of Earths just got released a month ago. It's filled with gorgeous Parisian locales, dark secrets, and a finely woven mystery. What's not to love?

Read on after the interview to find out how to win a copy of The Cabinet of Earths!

All Maya really wants is for her mother to be well again. But when her baby brother James goes missing, 12-year-old Maya has to take on the magical underworld of Paris, in which houses have bronze salamanders for door handles, the most beautiful people are all hooked on the sweet-smelling “anbar,” and a shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths has chosen Maya to be its next keeper. With the Cabinet’s help, Maya may be able to do for her mother what doctors cannot: save her from death, once and for all. But now that the clock is ticking for James, the price the Cabinet demands may be too high.

To borrow (and modify) a question from James Lipton, what’s your favorite middle-grade appropriate “curse word” or insult?
Anne Nesbet: I lean toward Surprised Exclamations rather than insults (perhaps because 
my feeble brain can't come up with sharp edges fast enough): "good 
heavens! good grief! golly gee! heavens to Betsy!" I know, I know, I
 know. Ever since preschool, the adjective that clings to Anne has been

What's one game you played a lot as a child (could be a board game, a
 made-up game, or anything)?

AN: My mother presented my sister and me with "Teacher's Kits" when we were
 much too tiny to be in any school, and we loved to squiggle out some 
homework or to make the teddy bears and long-suffering dolls sit in a row
 and behave. Later on we played the most murderous games of Monopoly: 
they went on for days and ended in (figurative) bloodshed and (very real) 
tears. Plus there was a game called "The Emperor of China" that fulfilled 
a kid's natural longing for world domination. And it was important to 
climb the pine-tree behind the back fence from time to time, just to see
 what the world looked like from up there.

There’s a very important, ornate building at the center of your book and I was surprised to read in your author’s note that it really exists! 
How did you come across it and did it inspire your whole story or just a 
part of it?
AN: Actually, the first part of the story to appear in my head was poor,
 drained, unreadable Cousin Louise, and when she first popped into my mind,
 I had no idea she was French. But then we moved to Paris, and I really
 did walk by the Salamander House (not its official name in real life)
 every day when taking the kids to school. You look at that front door and
 you KNOW strange things must be happening inside! The exterior of the 
building may be real, but fiction takes over once the story goes in
 through the gate: I made up all the indoor rooms, and I warped space in a
 very reckless manner to allow there to be all those twisty-turny passages 
leading to the Alchemical Theater.

Paris is the City of Lights! What are three other words you think
 could replace ‘lights’?

AN: Paris is the City of Very Old Stone, of Tucked-Away Magics, and (most
 especially) of Warm Chocolate Croissants.

What are two MG books you'd recommend and why?

AN: Oh, but I'm always the person who fails the
"quick-what-book-goes-with-you-to-the-desert-island" quiz! I can't
 choose. I love too many, and the ones I love most change from minute to
 minute.  Right this very moment I might say Tove Jansson's Finn Family Moomintroll, because its combination of magic and strangeness and loss and
 charming domesticity; and The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall, because
 when I read this book I rejoiced rejoiced rejoiced that such a story
 (family! humor! summer!) could still be written, even in this new century; 
and The Story of the Amulet, by E. Nesbit, because who can forget the London children's
 shocked reaction to the blue sky and clean air of the Past; and Ozma of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, because of the lunchbox tree.  Oops, you said two?

Thank you so much, Anne! And now on to the giveaway!

Entering is simple (this time I mean it!) Just follow the instructions in the rafflecopter form below. You'll get +1 entry for leaving a comment on this post; +2 entries each for tweeting (up to once per day) or Facebooking about this giveaway; and +3 entries for blogging about it. The giveaway is open internationally and will run until Friday, February 10th at 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Ohhhh warm chocolate croissant. How I miss you!!!
    Ok, now to be serious, I agree with her choice of The Penderwicks.
    This was a fun interview to read. Thank you!

  2. My daughter would love this book, even more so because her name is Maya! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh, I love The Penderwicks too! And I've heard so many wonderful things about The Cabinet of Earths.

  4. I think I'll need to add more books to my to-be-read list, as the only one I knew from that list was Ozma of Oz!

  5. AHHHHH! This looks awesome!! (And the title of your blog made me laugh...)

  6. I've had my eye on this one! Can't wait to read it!!

  7. I've only been to Paris once, but I love middle grade fantasy in any locale because I fell in love with Tolkien at age 9. Now I write it too. This book looks great and sounds like a fun read.

  8. This book sounds so awesome!

  9. I see nothing wrong with using "good grief", especially since I myself do not swear. This is the second time in time days I've seen mention of The Penderwicks, I think I may have to see if my library has them.

    Thanks for the awesome interview and giveaway. =)

  10. I think Little My would love it. I'm hoping to put it on my shelf beside the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, because it promises just a hint of scary--those jars of earth.