Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blog Tour & Interview: Enchantment Lake (Margie Preus)

Hardcover, 200 pages
Published March 11th 2015 by Univ Of Minnesota Press

A disturbing call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette sends seventeen-year-old Francie far from her new home in New York into a tangle of mysteries. Ditching an audition in a Manhattan theater, Francie travels to a remote lake in the northwoods where her aunts’ neighbors are “dropping like flies” from strange accidents. But are they accidents?
On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hot dish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure that is said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built.
To a somewhat reluctant northwoods Nancy Drew, the intrigue proves irresistible, especially when it draws her closer to the mysteries at the heart of her own life: What happened to her father? Who and where is her mother? Who is she, and where does her heart lie—in the bustle of New York City or the deep woods of Minnesota? With its gripping story, romantic spirit, and a sly dash of modern-day trouble (evil realtors and other invasive species), Enchantment Lake will fascinate readers, providing precisely the charm that Margi Preus’s readers have come to expect.

Margi Preus is a New York Times bestselling children’s book author and playwright. Her first novel for young people, Heart of a Samurai, is a Newbery Honor Book, a recipient of the Asian Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature, and an NPR Backseat Book Club pick. Shadow on the Mountain is a Notable Book for a Global Society, and her newest novel, West of the Moon, is included on many Best Books of 2014 lists. Her picture books include Celebritrees; Historic and Famous Trees of the World, a 2013 Flicker Tale Awardee.

Margi served as the artistic director of Colder by the Lake Comedy Theatre for 25 years and with her collaborator Jean Sramek has written hundreds of comedy sketches, a couple of comic operas and dozens of plays for young people and grown ups. When she isn’t writing, she likes to ski, hike, paddle or sit quietly with a book in her lap.

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I am a mystery junkie. That’s one thing. My husband and I own a cabin in northern Minnesota where there was for many years an on-going fight, I guess you could say, over whether our windy, twisty, bumpy, dusty road should be improved. Tempers flared. I started to wonder what would happen if my otherwise sweet-tempered neighbors started killing each other over it. I started writing a mystery around that premise, mainly just for fun. But, like the road, the story took many twists and turns, and by the time I finished, the original premise had taken a back seat to many other issues that northern Minnesotans deal with these days. 

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I generally have a soft spot for my protagonists, so I guess I’d have to say Francie. Of course the elderly aunts are pretty lovable, too.

Which came first, the title or the novel?

Absolutely the novel. My working title was “Under Enchantment” but that seemed to suggest fantasy, which, of course, it isn’t, so it didn’t make the cut. But I'm happy with the title. It gives a good indication of what the book will be, without promising straight-out fantasy.

What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I don’t know if I'm particularly proud of any of them, but many of the scenes were quite fun to write, since the place is so familiar to me: Francie in the fishing boat with Buck. That was fun. The funeral was fun. Lying in the boathouse listening to waves and loons. I just like thinking about it, even when I’m not doing it.

Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

The beginning of writing this particular book? That was so long ago, it probably counts as the start of my writing career! Every book is a little education. This one was a lesson on how not to construct a mystery—which is the way I went about it. I didn’t know how it was going to end . . . I didn’t really know much of anything before I started—I just blundered along as best I could. I don’t recommend it.

What do you like most about the cover of the book? 

It’s a stunner. I love that all the clues are there, yet you still can’t figure out the puzzle—kind of like that jigsaw puzzle the aunts are working on.

What was your favorite book in 2015? 

Is it over already? I have had the pleasure of reading advance copies of a couple of books that will be coming out (I’m pretty sure still this year): Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford and In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III. I guess I could also plug my forthcoming novel, The Bamboo Sword (Sept. 1, 2015), a companion book to Heart of a Samurai.

What’s up next for you? 

I have a few things simmering on various burners. Maybe even a sequel to Enchantment Lake.

Tour Schedule:

April 1: I Heart Reading

April 3: A Fantastical Librarian AND a bonus day, April 4!

April 6: Bookish

April 10: A Library Mama

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