Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand, Blog Tour; Character Interviews & A Giveaway

Hi everyone! I am so thrilled to be the next stop on Claire Legrand's The Year of Shadows Blog Tour. Today I have a special treat for you: An interview with Olivia Stellatella and Henry Page from Claire Legrand’s upcoming middle grade novel, The Year of Shadows! I am SO EXCITED to be part of the blog tour for this book! Read on to read my interview with the intrepid main character, Olivia, and her loyal friend, Henry. I had such fun meeting them, and I know you will too!

THE YEAR OF SHADOWS Blog Tour, Day 2: Character Interview with Olivia and Henry

Mundie Kids: Hi Olivia and Henry! Welcome to Mundie Kids. I’m so excited to be chatting with you today!

Olivia: Hey.

Henry: Hi! And, uh, don’t let Olivia bother you. She really is excited to be here; she can get a little shy around new people.

Olivia: I do not. I just . . . I don’t know. It’s weird, talking about everything that happened. You know?

Henry: I know. But doesn’t it make you kind of proud?

Olivia: I guess.

Henry: Come on, Olivia, we did a great thing that year. We saved a lot of things that needed saving.

Olivia: I know we did. I just . . . ugh. I wish Igor were here. I always feel better with him around.

Henry: Are you saying your weird talking cat is better company than me, an actual person?

Olivia: How many times do I have to explain this? He’s not an actual talking cat. He just . . . only talks to me.

Henry: You know, if I didn’t like you so much, I might call you crazy.

Olivia: You know, if you call me crazy, I might draw a picture of you as a giant, germy, fuzzy amoeba and make copies of it and tape them all over the lockers at school.

Henry: Except that didn’t work so well the first time. You can’t get rid of me that easily.

Olivia: You smile too much.

Henry: Everyone says my smile is charming.

Olivia: Charming?! Gross. I mean, just . . . no.

MK: So, how do you feel about the fact that your story will soon be out there in bookstores and libraries for total strangers to read?

O: It’s weird. It makes me feel kind of afraid.

H: Afraid? Why?

O: Doesn’t it freak you out to think that soon people will know all our horrible secrets?

H: We don’t have horrible secrets, Olivia. Don’t be dramatic.

O: I’m not being dramatic! I’m just . . . I don’t know.

H: It embarrasses you?

O: Yeah. I don’t like talking about myself. Sometimes, some of the things I did and said . . . I don’t feel proud of those things.
H: But Olivia, you were so brave. And yeah you were angry and said some mean things, but you totally had the right to.

O: You never got mad or rude or whatever. Mr. Perfect Henry Page.

H: Are we really going to start that again?

O: You are pretty perfect, though.

H: Maybe I’m just better at hiding the things that bother me. Maybe I can’t show my emotions like you can. Maybe that makes you really strong.

O: What are you, a psychologist?

H: I’d be a fantastic psychologist.

O: A modest one, too.

H: Says the artist superstar.

O: Excuse me?!

H: Oh come on, you know you love it when they put up your paintings in the trophy case at school.

O: Well, okay . . . that is kind of awesome.

H: I rest my case.

MK: Can you tell us a little about Emerson Hall, the music hall where Olivia’s dad works? You both spend a lot of time there, which is a bit unusual for twelve-year-old kids!

O: I used to hate it.

H: I always loved it. I worked there on concert nights; I was an usher. But I was there all the time because it was a great place to study and Maestro Stellatella and Mr. Rue—he was the president of the orchestra—they didn’t care.

O: I was forced to live there. In the storage rooms. Backstage. With the broken music stands. Everything smelled like moldy music and trumpet spit. Did you know brass players empty the spit that collects in their instruments by opening a valve and blowing their own spit out onto the floor?

H: It really freaks out the woodwind and string players.

O: That part is kind of funny.

H: It was a beautiful hall. It was built in like, what, the late 1800s?

O: According to Frederick’s memories, yeah, something like that.

H: Dragons painted on the ceilings—

O: —and these fountains in the lobbies, which never worked. These giant swirling staircases in the front lobby—

H: —and a huge pipe organ above the stage.

O: It used to be beautiful, and then after a long time it wasn’t—but it still was, in this weird way. Like a graveyard. Crumbling and old.

MK: Olivia, you go through a lot during your year of shadows, aka, the year the ghosts came. But you managed to get through it. Do you have any advice for kids who, like you, might be going through a rough time with family, money, or bullies at school?

O: I shouldn’t give advice about that. I . . . I mean, I didn’t always handle everything that well.

H: Olivia, what happened to you . . . nobody could have handled that well. Seriously, give yourself a break.

O: I guess. It’s just, I don’t like to think about some of the things I said. But when I imagine going back and doing it all over again, I don’t think I’d do anything differently.

H: Because people needed to hear the things you said. Your dad—

O: I was awful.

H: He was awful.

O: . . . He was. He didn’t mean to, I don’t think—

H: Still. You had every right to be angry.

O: I had every right. I guess, if I had to give one piece of advice, it would be this: Don’t hide. When things get bad, don’t hide. I did. I hid in the shadows, I hid in my sketchbook, I hid in clothes I thought would make people ignore me. But in the end, the thing that helped me the most was friendship. Some of my friend were, you know, vaporous, drifty, smoky beings who weren’t exactly alive, but . . . anyway, don’t hide. Don’t be afraid to let people be your friend. Like Henry. If I hadn’t let Henry be my friend . . .

H: You didn’t, at first.

O: I really hated you.

H: You thought you hated me.

O: I was wrong.

H: It happens to the best of us, Mademoiselle Artiste.

O: Show-off.

MK: Both of you are pretty artistic, or at least have an appreciation for the arts. Olivia, you love to draw. Henry, you love music. Why do you love the arts so much? How do drawing and music help you?

O: At first, it helped me escape. Drawing helped me pretend all the bad stuff away.

H: Same here. I mean, this is Olivia’s story, but I had some bad things happen to me and my family too, and music helped me remember when things were actually good. It made me feel happy when nothing else could.

O: Not even your honor roll-worthy grades?

H: Ha, ha.

O: But later, it was like . . . I don’t know, I realized drawing was this thing that made me me. It wasn’t just an escape. It was something that made me stronger. I think when I realized that, when I stopped using drawing as a hiding place, I became a way better artist. Because at that point, I wasn’t drawing because of other people, because of how they made me feel. I was drawing for me.

MK: Olivia, do you have a favorite out of the four ghosts who became such good friends with you? What about you, Henry?

O: That’s like asking what’s the better cookie at The Happy Place: the oatmeal raisin or the chocolate chip? Impossible to answer because they’re both amazing—but so different from each other.

H: Great. Now I want cookies.

O: You eat like a horse. No, you eat like ten horses.

H: I’m an active young man, Olivia. Can’t help it.

O: Young man? Now that’s just freaky.

H: Well, okay. So there was Frederick. He was really helpful and friendly, because he was the youngest ghost.

O: Yeah, because he had been a ghost for the least amount of time. And Mr. Worthington was the oldest ghost because he had been a ghost for the longest amount of time.

H: Mr. Worthington made the funniest noises sometimes.

O: He didn’t really talk. It was hard for him, being so old.

H: Oh! Frederick was a musician. Automatic cool points.

O: Nerd. And Tillie and Jax, they were best friends when they were alive, so when they were ghosts, they always spoke at the same time, which was pretty funny.

H: It’s impossible to pick.

O: Agreed. They were like a team, or a band or something. Each part is equally important, and when one person goes missing . . .

H: It all falls apart?

O: Sometimes it felt that way, to me.

H: It all worked out for the best in the end, though. Didn’t it?

O: I think so. Yeah. It did.

H: It did.

O: Stop holding my hand, Henry. We only do that before séances or in moments of extreme emotional distress.

MK: Do you think you would have become friends if the ghosts hadn’t shown up that day in the lobby?

O: No.

H: Yes.

O: Oh really?

H: Even if the ghosts hadn’t shown up, a lot of stuff was going on that year. We would have to talk eventually.

O: We’re so different, Henry. Sometimes I think . . .

H: What?

O: I don’t know. Sometimes I think we’re still too different to be friends. I’m quiet and you’re not. You make good grades and I don’t.

H: Your grades are way better now. You’re like an algebra pro.

O: Thanks to you.

H: I may have helped you study, but you had to do the work. Anyway, who cares about grades and who’s louder and who’s quieter?

O: I don’t, most of the time. Most of the time, I . . . whatever.

H: No, you’ve got to finish that thought, or I’ll hold your hand again.

O: Ugh, okay, okay. Most of the time, I just think about how cool you are, and how much I like hanging out with you. Okay? Happy?

H: Euphoric.

O: Henry, seriously, put down the dictionary every once in a while. It won’t kill you.

H: Or you could pick one up . . .

O: You’re pushing it, Page.

MK: Music plays such a huge part in this story. Do either of you play an instrument? If so, which? And if not, what instrument would you like to play?

H: I know what instrument Olivia wishes she could play.

O: Oh yeah? And what’s that?

H: Well, let’s just say, you could spend a lot more time with a certain dreamy musician if you started playing the trumpet. I mean, he could give you private lessons and everything.

O: . . . You did not just say that.

H: You know it’s true.

O: I don’t think Richard Ashley is dreamy!

H: Liar, liar, secret admirer!

O: Anyway. I don’t play an instrument, but if I could, I’d probably pick the cello. Not the trumpet. So just don’t ever say that again.

H: That again.

O: Isn’t he funny? He’s just sooo funny.

H: If I could play any instrument, it would be the trombone. Or maybe I’d be a percussionist so I could, you know, bang on stuff all the time.

MK: One last question for you, Olivia: After the events of the year in this story, do you still consider yourself an “ombralina,” a “little shadow”?

O: Sometimes, I guess. I mean, everyone has bad days when they feel like a little shadow—unimportant and small and forgettable. But mostly? No. Most of the time, I feel . . . this is gonna sound cheesy.

H: I like cheese.

O: Of course you do. Anyway, most of the time, I feel . . . light inside. When I draw, or when I spend time with Henry or Joan, or the Barskys, or Nonnie or . . . Dad. Yeah. Mostly I feel light inside. Like everything that happened was the beginning of something really good. Like everything that happened was for a reason.

H: That’s beautiful, Olivia.

O: Like music?

H: Like your drawings.

MK: Thank you both for stopping by the blog today, and have fun with the launch of The Year of Shadows!

About the Book

Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.
Her mother left, her neglectful father — the maestro of a failing orchestra — has moved her and her grandmother into his dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help — if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living . . . and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.

About The Author

Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn't stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a writer, Ms. Legrand can often be found typing with purpose at her keyboard, losing herself in the stacks at her local library, or embarking upon spontaneous adventures to lands unknown. Her first novel is THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, a New York Public Library Best Book for Children in 2012. Her second novel, THE YEAR OF SHADOWS, releases August 27, 2013, with her third novel, WINTERSPELL, to follow in fall 2014. She is one of the four authors behind THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, an anthology of dark middle grade fiction due out in July 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins. Claire lives in New Jersey with a dragon and two cats. Visit her at claire-legrand.com and at enterthecabinet.com.

The GiveawayAs part of today's tour stop, we have ONE copy of The Year of Shadows to giveaway to one lucky tour follower! The contest is open to addresses in the US and Canada only. To enter, please fill out the form below:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! 
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~