RIFFLE BACKSTORY WITH HEIDI SCHULZ, AUTHOR OF HOOK'S REVENGE

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HOOK’S REVENGE, will be published by Disney•Hyperion on September 16, 2014. A sequel, *HOOK’S REVENGE: THE PIRATE CODE, *will follow in fall 2015. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, *in 2016. *

Ariel Birdoff, Middle Grade Editor

What are some current Middle Grade books that you wished your younger self could have read?

When I was younger, I was obsessed with magic and witches. I wanted so badly to be able to magically turn off the light without getting up once I was done reading in bed. (Seems like I could have thought of something grander, but that was my biggest wish.) I know I would have loved Lauren Magaziner’s The Only Thing Worse Than Witches. It’s exactly the kind of story I would have devoured: Magical and hilarious. For pure escape-into-a-new-world joy, I can think of nothing better than Emma Trevayne’s Flights, Chimes, and Mysterious Times. It has clockwork dragons, airships, a wind-up girl, a boy named Jack, and lots of cake. I would have wanted to sink into that story and stay forever. I also liked to both hear and tell scary stories. I often ended up scaring myself into sleeplessness at slumber parties. Claire Legrand’s The Year of Shadows would have been just the right amount of creepy, as would the short story anthology, The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister. (Both Claire Legrand and Emma Trevayne are contributing authors, along with Katherine Catmull and Stefan Bachman.) Oh, and I had a really terrible home-permed mullet. I would have found a kindred spirit in Star Mackie from Robin Herrera’s Hope is a Ferris Wheel.

What was it like working with such a well-known setting/background?

I have a great love for J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. It was important to me that I stay true to the original, while at the same time creating something new. I really enjoyed delving into the characters I already knew and loved, putting them in new situations, and seeing how they would react. At the same time, it was awesome to have new characters, Jocelyn in particular, see the Neverland and all its wonders for the first time. Speaking of which, I loved writing the Neverland itself. It was so much fun to spend time in that impossible, changeable island, where it is always all four seasons at once, and where adventuring is the only real requirement.

*Which literary character are you passionately in love with? *

Atticus Finch: a good man, a great father, humble, kind, brave, and the deadest shot in Maycomb County. What’s not to love?

*What is your favorite scene from Hook’s Revenge? *

That’s a tough question. I have several! I love when Roger and Jocelyn are in the carriage house and he helps her figure out how to get along at school without compromising who she is. But I also love the scene where Jocelyn teaches table manners to cannibals. And the one where she, One-Armed Jack, and Mr. Smee first come face to face with the crocodile. Of course, I can’t leave off Captain Hook in the Black Swamp. I still get chills rereading that one. It’s impossible. I can’t pick just one.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would tell her that Guess Jeans and new white Keds are far less important than being a good friend, even if it feels like no one else believes that to be true. I’d also tell her that when Teddy the neighbor boy tries to kiss her, running away might get her in less trouble than punching him.

What would you do if your protagonist walked in the door right now?

Faint dead away, and when I revived, I’d call a doctor. Hallucinating seems to be a bad sign, health wise.

If you could have any supernatural power, what would it be?

Since I now have a really good table lamp, I no longer need magical powers to turn out the light without getting out of bed. Instead, I’d like the power to make really good food materialize out of thin air. I love to cook, but there are times, particularly near the end of a deadline, where it would be nice to simply think of something wonderful and have it appear. I think my family would appreciate that as well. So much better than pizza again.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird, 50th Anniversary Edition

  • Hook's Revenge, Book 1: Hook's Revenge

  • The Only Thing Worse Than Witches

  • Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times

  • The Year of Shadows

  • The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister

  • Hope Is a Ferris Wheel