2017 debut author Corabel Shofner recently interviewed Andrew Brumbach about his debut Middle Grade novel, THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT, which was published March 8, 2016 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
About the Book:
It is 1929. Cousins William and Maxine plan to spend the summer with their grandfather but before they know it he has whisked them off to New York where he vanishes, leaving them alone in the City. With the help of Nura, a tenacious girl from Turkey, they navigate cold-blooded gansters and assassins to rescue their grandfather and save the world.
THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT IS AVAILABLE AT
About the Author:
Andrew Brumbach grew up square in the hippie community of Eugene, Oregon, surrounded by artists and musicians and storytellers. Then he traveled far and wide. Somewhere along the way, he married the girl of his dreams and had four practically perfect kids. Now he lives in suburban Illinois but secretly daydreams about chasing bandits across the desert with Lawrence of Arabia and Gertrude Bell under cloudless, starry skies.
Corabel: Your writing shows that you clearly have the heart of an adventurer. What other professions have you pursued and how did you land in writing?
Andrew: Ha! Other than writing, I’ve only ever worked in the world of trading and investing, which isn’t all that adventurous, except maybe for the metaphorical bulls and bears. I started out young on the trading floor in Chicago, which was a pretty epic spectacle in it’s heyday, back before computers and algorithms hunted floor traders to extinction. The trading pits were a seething mass of humanity—greed, fear, and controlled chaos—kind of like Thunderdome.
Now my business card says Senior Portfolio Analyst, which means that probably the most adventurous thing about my job is having the chance to travel once and a while. I get to go to some cool places like London, and Hong Kong, and Vienna, and Rio, and whenever I visit a new city, my favorite thing to do is people-watch. Which is probably why I like books, come to think of it. They’re kind of like travelling in their ability to transport you to other times and places.
My interest in writing came out of a love for story and for words. Story never ceases to amaze me. And I’ve always envied the way great writers can not only whisk you away, but do it with style, just by the words they choose and how they order them. I think I wanted to see if I had any of that in me, and that’s what led me to sit down and write a book.
Corabel: THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT is an old fashioned swashbuckling tale. What led you to tell this story?
Andrew: It’s funny that you call it old-fashioned. I don’t disagree with you, although I’m not sure I can put my finger on why. The story is set in the 1920’s, but I don’t think that’s really the reason the book feels a like a throwback. It probably has something to do with the style and voice, which I think have sort of a tweedy, vaguely British quality, and probably some of the rules that the story plays by as far as the characters and plotting are concerned. As a kid, I’d come home from the library with classic adventure books by Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling, and I think they infected me.
Corabel: There are so many exquisite and colorful details in this book. Was the revision process difficult?
Andrew: Yes and no. I suspect most authors will tell you that revision is the easier, more gratifying part of the writing process. But for me revision is also sort of a black hole, an endless loop that I can’t escape. To say that I revised the manuscript an infinite number of times is really not much of an exaggeration, because whenever I was too lazy or intimidated to attack the next blank page, which was often, I would default to twiddling with what I’d already written. Even now that the book has gone to press, I find I still can’t stop tinkering with it in my head.
Corabel: Your characters jump off the page. Colonel Battersea, William, Maxine and Nura. Which readers do you feel will love them the most?
Andrew: I think the fat part of the bell curve for this book is a bright twelve-year-old. Boy or girl doesn’t really matter—hopefully the characters will appeal to both. I wanted William and Maxine to be very different from one another, with complementary strengths and weaknesses. I wanted them to be better together, you know? Kind of like Spock and Kirk. I hope that readers find them spunky and clever, and enjoy seeing all three of the children thrust into Colonel Battersea’s adult world.
Lightning Round Questions:
It is a sunny afternoon in NYC 1929. Where would you go?
Hmmm… as touristy as it sounds, I’d probably like to start at Times Square. Given my background in the financial world, I’d walk south to Wall Street and visit the trading floor of the Stock Exchange on the eve of the Stock Market crash.
How much research did you do for this book?
Probably a lot more than necessary, only because it was so much fun. At one point I found myself reading a book about people a century ago who were trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to perfect all kinds of crazy flying suits—jumping out of airplanes and off buildings. Sadly, none of that made it into the final version of the book.
Describe your work space.
My house has an architectural blunder that left an inaccessible area adjacent to the second story stairs. I cut a door in the wall and now I have this very cozy (borderline claustrophobic) writing nook with an Iggy Pop concert poster and some Lego Simpsons figures and a copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and a jar of Trader Joe’s Chocolate-covered Butterscotch Sea-Salt Caramels (for motivation).
Do you take your children on imaginary swashbuckling adventures?
I did make up bedtime stories for my kids, back when they were younger. There was one about a flying lemon car that got a lot of requests, as I recall. And then The Eye of Midnight was always for them. It was for them before I ever had a thought of trying to publish it.
With a large family, how do you find time to write?
I’m still working that part out, to tell you the truth. Fortunately, I’m an early riser and most of my family are night owls.
Does your family read books aloud?
Absolutely. It’s kind of a family identity thing. I’m not sure why reading out loud is a better pastime than watching TV together, it just is. Lately we’re into P.G. Wodehouse.
About the Interviewer:
Corabel Shofner, born in Mississippi to farmers and debutantes, currently lives in Nashville. She is delighted finally to be a published novelist, something she’s been seeking since writing “The Monsters Under My Bed” in first grade. (It was non-fiction.)
THE BRAVE AND WISE RUBY CLYDE
Ruby Clyde, with her kidnapped piglet, tries to free her mother from jail, but she must get the help of her estranged aunt — an ornery solitary nun in the Texas Hill Country.
Middle Grade, FSG, Spring 2017.
For more bio and stories visit:http://corabelshofner.com/