Peter Lubinsky doesn’t even like dogs and can’t understand why he asked for one for his birthday. But it turns out that this pet, whom Peter calls The Dog, can talk and do magic—and he needs Peter’s help. In return, The Dog promises to teach Peter conjuring and to help him bring his father home from the Middle East, where he is deployed with the air force. Soon Peter finds himself flying through the air on a mission to rescue The Dog’s master. But as Peter’s magical powers grow, he finds himself filled with a dark anger.
A bedroom full of dinosaur fossils, a waiter who was formerly a mouse, and an epic battle of magician’s make for a thrilling read. This imaginative middle-grade fantasy is about the power of enchantment and love.
Frances Sackett studied creative writing at Harvard and has an MFA from Mills College. She currently edits reports for the state of California as well as teaches writing classes for state auditors. This is her first book. She lives in Los Angeles, California.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I would go into the future. Then I could come back, write some amazingly accurate science fiction, and go down in history for predicting the cool things people were going to invent.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I’ve gotten so much good advice in my life. Most recently, I’ve been worrying about doing all this book publicity—it’s a little nerve-wracking to put myself out there. But I love my book, and I want people to read it! My boyfriend told me to just tell the truth, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about whether I was saying the “right” thing. That was immensely helpful.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I always wanted to be a writer. I lived in books as a child; half the time I didn’t know what was going on around me because I was so deeply enmeshed in a story. I did go through a brief phase of wanting to be a ballet dancer, though I think that was mostly because I had a crush on Baryshnikov.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The most beautiful, rewarding moments have all involved kids reading my book. Most of my ten-year-old son’s class decided to read it, so pretty much every time I pick him up at school, a kid runs up to me to tell me how much she or he loved my novel. How amazing is that? The best part is hearing them talk about Peter, Celia, Izzy, and The Dog like they’re real people. They often ask me what happened next—and they ask as though I must know.
Someone sent me this quote after her daughter read my book: “Mom, you know when characters become really close to your heart and you really understand them? This is what the book did for me. This is such a good book. I really loved it – you have to read it next!!” That’s the sort of thing that can make you smile for days.
What is you favorite way to spend a rainy day?
I think I should probably say writing. Except that there is nothing—NOTHING—better than spending a rainy day reading on the couch, periodically staring out at the grey sky and feeling deeply content.
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
My very favorite author is probably Alice Munro: I named my daughter after her. After that, the list gets very long, though James Agee is way up there. Roald Dahl is too. I also have a deep love for fantasy writers like Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon (if you haven’t read The Deed of Paksennarion, read it now. Really.).
What do you do in your free time?
That’s a hard question! I’m a single mom of two kids; I work as a contract editor and writing teacher for the State Auditor’s Office, and I also write every second I can. I don’t have any free time! But I love and treasure the time I spend with my kids, and I also have an amazing boyfriend with an equally amazing son—so I can’t complain, because even though I’m busy, my life is very full of love. And when you enjoy the things you do and the people you do them with, then it’s okay to busy.
Shoes or Sandals?
I love shoes—especially boots with big intimidating heels. That said, I’ve had three herniated discs in my back that have been driving me crazy for almost a year now. And the worst part is that I have to wear flat shoes! So I’m reluctantly becoming a sandal-wearer.
Night owl, or early bird?
I’m such a night owl. In college, I quickly figured out that no matter how great a class was, I shouldn’t take it if I had to be there before ten a.m. After college, I worked very hard to always try to have jobs that allowed me to sleep in.
And then I had children. Now I stay up late, get up early, and drink a heck of a lot of chai.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Try to live your life as though you don’t feel fear. It’s impossible, of course, not to be afraid. But too many people make too many decisions based out of their fears—especially a fear of failing. Imagine what you would do if you knew for sure that you would succeed. Would you spend every night writing your novel instead of watching TV? If so, that’s probably what you should be doing, even if a little voice inside your head wonders if the book will ever be published. That little voice is not your friend!
Print or Ebook?
I love print books. I love the way they feel; I love their covers; I love flipping pages. But I have books in my living room, books in my dining room, books in my bedroom, books in my den… I even have books in the kitchen. For purely spatial reasons, I’ve now started reading e-books.
Pizza or Pasta?
Pizza. From a place called Grey Block in Culver City. They have a specialty pie that’s topped with spinach, feta, and sundried tomatoes, and it’s so darn good.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I was on my way to pick up my kids from school when my agent called to tell me that Holiday House wanted to buy The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog. As soon as I got to school, I ran up to my daughter, who was in kindergarten, and told her that someone wanted to publish my book. Only she misunderstood and thought I said that someone wanted to publish HER book—a story she’d been telling me while I typed it out. She got this huge grin, and then she looked so sad when I explained it was mine, not hers, that was getting published!
That’s not really an answer to the question—but that’s my memory of learning it had sold!
I can still do the splits (even though I’m 42!).
2 winners (one US and one outside of the US) will each receive a copy of The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog.
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