Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview With Author Amy Ephron

mr ripleysWelcome, Amy Ephron, to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Amy is an American author and her first novel for children The Castle in the Mist was published back in February 2017 by Philomel, Penguin Kids. The international bestselling author has kindly taken the time to answer some questions about her first children's novel and her writing. Castle in the Mist is an enchanting book that takes you on a fantastical journey into the realms of magic and beyond. Come and have a read to find out what it's all about and to inspire you to pick up a copy and give it a read.

How would you sum up The Castle in the Mist to potential readers?
I call “The Castle in the Mist” a modern-day mash-up of an old-fashioned children’s novel. It has one foot in the real world and another foot in…
Call it magic or fantasy (or might they have imagined it, after all?) When I was little, I thought of books as magical places I could get lost in and I also thought that the characters and the places were real. (I still do sort of think this.)

I wanted to try to do a modern-day version, like Oz or Half Magic, all of which mix the real world with one that may be magical or fantastic two American kids, Tess & Max are sent to stay with their Aunt Evie in Hampshire, England. Tess discovers a key that lets her into the garden of a castle where she meets a young boy, just her age, also eleven, who is just as lonely as she is.

A lot of magical things happen at the castle. Wishes sometimes do come true. And William warns her, and rightly so, to stay away from the hawthorn trees. And, also, tells her to keep the key because you never know when you might need it.

One magical night, when there’s a blue moon, a blood moon, and a super moon all at once, strange things start to happen in the sky. Tess’s brother Max is mesmerised by the eclipse of the full moon and, by mistake, he steps into the hawthorn trees and simply disappears. And William runs after him, and he, too, disappears, and Tess has to figure out how to save them as the castle starts to disappear in the mist….

The Castle in the Mist CoverAnd I can’t tell you what happens after that…

What would the main character in your book have to say about you?
I would hope that Tess would want me to invite her to stay with me for the summer!! And that she would think that magical things might happen.

What is important to you, when you write a good story?
Place, tone, character, voice, that all of them seem real. I do believe that some of the books I love are real, the Oz really exists, that The Secret Garden is almost a work of non-fiction, that Mary Poppins was real and the Banks’ kids never grew up.
I think the most important thing to me though is voice – how you choose to tell a story. “The Castle in the Mist” is told by a narrator, third person omniscient, which means that the narrator can sometimes see into the character’s heads. It, too, is a little old-fashioned. But some of my favorite books, like Stendahl’s The Red and the Black, are told by a third person narrator. And in the case of “The Castle in the Mist,” it allows for an amazing overview of all of the character’s lives, fears, strengths, and points of view.

What does magic look like to you?
Wishing for something and having it come true; coincidences that cannot be easily explained; the mere existence of love; a classroom of kids excited about learning and reading. I think it’s also a magical fact that Mr. Ripley, who I believe lives in England, thinks that I could successfully construct and craft a book set in England. (I have been to England and Hampshire a number of times though and it is a somewhat magical place.) I think Mr. Ripley believes in magic, too.


Read the complete interview here:

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