Rebecca Caprara, a graduate of Cornell University and a girl who practiced architecture, is also the author of the book she sent me, The Magic of Melwick Orchard, which I read on a Kindle. I published my review Tuesday. It is her first book and it officially comes out on September 1. Here is my interview with the author, who lives in Massachusetts:
Question: How did you come up with the idea for The Magic of Melwick Orchard?
Answer: The idea for this story came to me when I was in Big Sur, California six years ago. I was at a writing retreat and I was stuck on another project. I went out for a hike through a Redwood forest to clear my head. All of a sudden, this silvery fog rolled through those massive, beautiful trees and POOF! A new idea sprouted. I ran back to my cabin and typed up what became the first chapter of The Magic of Melwick Orchard.
Q: What message to you want readers to get from it?
A: Ideally, each person will find something unique within the story that resonates with them. I hope the book helps readers feel less alone, especially if they are going through a challenging situation with their family or friends. I would also be happy if the story encourages readers to explore the natural world, and to become stewards of the environment (which is pretty magical all on its own). Lastly, I’d love for the book to leave readers with a sense of wonder and hope, and a desire to read more.
Q: Why did you decide to make all the girls fearless?
A: This is an interesting question! I don’t think the girls (or any characters for that matter) are totally fearless, because it’s okay and natural to be afraid at times. Isa, Junie, and Kira all deal with worries, doubts, and insecurities throughout the book. The important thing is how they learn to face these fears, and eventually overcome them. Oftentimes, they do this by working together. As a result, they all become stronger and braver.
Q: What was your purpose in putting the squirrel in the book?
A: I’m always amused by the squirrels in my own yard, burying acorns, forgetting them, and then watching as new saplings sprout in the spring. The squirrel in the book plays an important role because he encourages Isa to plant the shoes, which sets of a magical chain reaction. Plus, I’m a sucker for a story with a cute animal sidekick, so this was my way to incorporate that element.
Q: Did you have a fun time writing The Magic of Melwick Orchard? Were there challenging times? Or was it all easy-peasy-lemony-squeezy?
A: I definitely had fun, but it was hard work too. The process took me nearly six years, from first idea to published novel. I wrote, re-wrote, and revised the story more times than I can count. When my agent sent the manuscript to publishers, it received lots of rejections. Luckily, I had friends and family who supported me and cheered me on when I felt down. There were many times when I thought the book might never get published, but I loved the story and the characters and I refused to give up.
Q: Why did you end the book with a cliffhanger? Does that mean there will be a sequel?
A: Another good question! I wanted to end the story with a What If…? to keep readers asking questions and thinking about the book long after that final page. As for a sequel, nothing is planned at the moment. But, never say never! And I do have an idea brewing for a possible prequel — which would give readers some background about how the orchard became magical, several generations before Isa and her family arrive.
Q: What advice would you give budding authors?
A: Read 🙂 Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Write. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. I really believe that no writing is ever wasted, so keep practicing. Observe the world around you. Be curious. Ask questions. Then read and write some more!
Q: What are some of your favorite children’s books?
A: There are so many! As a kid, I adored anything by Roald Dahl. Recently, I enjoyed Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder, Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman, and The Map of Me by Tami Lewis Brown. I also really love verse novels. (Special inside scoop: my next two books are written in verse!) A few of my favorites include Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, and The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan.