Published by: Simon & Schuster Kids
To Be Released on: 8/28/12
At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline and The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy -quoted from Goodreads
Hi Claire! Thank you for being on Mundie Kids today. Congratulations on the release of your book! I can only imagine how surreal this all feels right now. Are you able to describe what it feels like to have something you've spent years working on to be out in book stores?
You know, I’m not sure it’s possible to convey this feeling in words. Instead, how about I use GIFs? (I will admit to having an unhealthy obsession with GIFs. I have a massive folder full of them on my computer. And when I say massive, think that moment in Jurassic Park when they see the Brachiosaurus for the first time and are all like, “GUYS GUYS THIS IS A MAGIC MOMENT.”)
How did your story come about? What inspired it? Was it a certain scene in your book, a character, or a part of the setting?
CAVENDISH was inspired by real-life locations! When I was in college, I lived down the street from a questionable orphanage. In actuality it probably wasn’t that questionable at all. But my overactive imagination and a few strange occurrences had me convinced something was up at this place. Police tape on the front door. A disturbing lack of activity on the grounds, despite signs advertising field days and open houses. An unmarked van pulling out of the driveway and following me and my friend around town. I get delicious chills just thinking about it! I knew that I had to write a “creepy orphanage story”, and for the longest time, that’s what I called CAVENDISH when talking with friends and family: “My creepy orphanage story.” CAVENDISH was also inspired by the town my dad lives in. It’s a great place to live—clean, beautiful, safe. But there’s lots of money in that town, and with that money can sometimes come a rather Stepford-esque quality. So I took this creepy orphanage and this shiny Stepford-esque town and thought, “How far would a town obsessed with perfection and appearances go to achieve that perfection?” And CAVENDISH was born.
Do you have a favorite scene or chapter in your book you can share with us?
Yes! One of my favorite scenes happens fairly early on in the book—and don’t worry, this will be spoiler-free! This scene happens after the main character, Victoria, has realized her best friend, Lawrence, has gone missing. She goes door-to-door down her street, looking for answers:
“I’m going to find out exactly what is going on here,” Victoria said … “I’ll knock on every single door if I have to.” She turned the corner and pressed the buzzer on Two Silldie Place’s gate.
Mr. Everett answered. He and Mrs. Everett were very old and collected porcelain figurines of African animals.
“Yes” said Mr. Everett, through the intercom.
“Mr. Everett, it’s Victoria. May I come in, please?”
“What now?” said Mr. Everett.
Victoria heard Mrs. Everett sigh and say, “It’s Victoria, darling,” and the gate clicked and started opening. “Victoria Wright.”
Mr. and Mrs. Everett let Victoria in and gave her tea, which Victoria only pretended to sip at.
“Have you seen my latest giraffe?” said Mrs. Everett, and she held out a giraffe with a neck twice as long as its stub of a body, painted in pinks and blues. “It cost one thousand dollars. It’s an antique, you know.”
All the Everetts’ figures were antiques. Victoria couldn’t believe something so ugly was so expensive. She also couldn’t believe that a pink and blue giraffe was an antique.
“Yes, it’s nice,” said Victoria. “Now I have a question.”
“Why, ask away!” said Mr. Everett, looking over their shelves for another figurine to show off. His hand was reaching for a smiling crocodile when Victoria said, “It’s about the Prewitts.”
The Everetts paused. They looked at each other and then at Victoria. They didn’t say a word. Mrs. Everett poured Victoria more tea and dumped four spoonfuls of sugar into it.
“The Prewitts,” Victoria said. “You know.”
“Yes, of course,” said Mrs. Everett.
“Are they sick or something? Do you know? And Lawrence—”
“He’s out of town,” said Mr. Everett. “Visiting his grandmother. That’s what we heard.”
“That’s right,” said Mrs. Everett. “We did hear that, didn’t we? Just the other day.”
Victoria said, “Yes, yes. But—” She paused. “Did you hear when he’ll be back?”
The Everetts looked at each other again. Mrs. Everett held out her giraffe and smiled. “But don’t you want to see the rest of our collection?”
“Look at this croc,” said Mr. Everett, his pointy white teeth matching the crocodile’s grin. “Priceless, you know. We have only the best in our collection.”
Oh, they knew something, all right. … They were only pretending they didn’t know what she was talking about. They weren’t going to help her. This realization enraged her. She forced herself to smile the sweetest smile she had ever worn.
“I’m so sorry, but I have to go,” she said at last, stopping just short of slamming down her teacup.” Thank you ever so much for your time.”This scene goes on to highlight a few other neighbors on Victoria’s street, which was so much fun to write. Then, the scene ends like this:
Victoria stood alone on the porch, the wind whipping her hair around. Her curls were falling out, which added insult to injury.
“Fine,” she said. Clearly, everyone around here knew more about what was going on than they were telling her, and nothing about any of it made any sense. And things were supposed to make sense in Belleville. The entire situation was unacceptable.
“So rude,” Victoria said, straightening her coat with a snap. “Maybe Mrs. Cavendish will be more polite.”
She walked to the end of the street, stopping right at the Home’s gate. The gray brick wall disappeared into the woods on either side. There wasn’t a buzzer or anything.
“How do I get in?” Victoria muttered.
The gate clicked open.
Oh, definitely with Victoria! She’s like an exaggerated version of me when I was twelve years old: Bossy. A perfectionist. Obsessed with grades. Mega goody-goody. A lot of people think Victoria’s a bit of a snot, and she is, but I empathize with her need to be the best at everything. It’s less about competing against other people and more about competing with herself, and I completely understand that drive. We’re the same in that way. At that age, I didn’t care if other people were better than me because I wanted to be better than them; it wasn’t about taking joy in seeing them fail. I just wanted to be better because I had set extremely high standards for myself. So, I get Victoria. She was very easy to write, and she came to me fully-formed. She was clear in my head from Day One. Oh, and instead of trying to make my hair curl perfectly like Victoria does, my twelve-year-old self was dead set on getting mine to lie flat! It never worked, though. Ah, the hours wasted in front of the mirror with a hair dryer!
What children's authors were influential on you growing up?
So many! Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, Bruce Coville, R. L. Stine, Michael Bedard, C. S. Lewis, Louis May Alcott, and Marguerite Henry, to name a few. I was obsessed (and still am) with horses and unicorns, scary stuff, weird stuff, and magic. I remember bursting into tears when I first read the end of A WRINKLE IN TIME. It was so chilling, so powerful. Come to think of it, Victoria's town of Belleville kind of reminds me of Camazotz, the planet controlled by IT in A WRINKLE IN TIME, where everyone looks the same and does the same things at the same time. Absolutely shivery.
If you could share one piece of writing advice with young authors, what would it be?
Read—a lot! That has been the most important learning tool for me as a writer, to read as much as I can and dissect each book to find what I like and what I don’t like. That helps me figure out what I want to achieve as a writer, what I don’t want to achieve, and what I can do better.
Claire Legrand is a Texan living in New York City. She used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a full-time writer, Claire can often be found typing with purpose on her keyboard or spontaneously embarking upon adventures to lands unknown. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is her first novel, due out August 28 from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. Her second novel, The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers, comes out August 2013. Her third novel, Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker, comes out Fall 2014.
You can follow Claire on: blog | twitter | facebook | tumblr | goodreads
To win a hardcover copy of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, simply comment on the post below! Contest is U.S./Canada only. Ends September 12th.