The Hardscrabble children are odd. Lucia can’t not speak her mind. Max is clever and likes to sit on rooftops. And Otto, the oldest – well, he hasn’t spoken since their mother disappeared. And he never takes that scarf off… When they are sent to stay with a relative who happens to be gone, they hurry to their next-nearest relative’s home. Great-Aunt Haddie happens to live in a castle – or at least a castle folly. Nobody’s sure who lives in the real castle. And there are rumors of the Kneebone Boy who lives in the nearby woods…
I can’t tell you quite how much I loved this book. I fell in love with the cover the second I laid eyes on it, and once I finished I was thoroughly grateful to Michelle Black, who told me I should read it. The writing is thoroughly British, dark and suspenseful enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, funny and quirky enough to keep you laughing, and good enough to keep you reading too late at night. Also, I just completely fell in love with Otto. It’s A Series of Unfortunate Events meets The Penderwicks in a novel that’s better than both of them. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should read The Kneebone Boy.
And if you don’t believe me yet, just read the interview I was fortunate enough to get with the authoress, Ellen Potter. Grab a cup of tea, settle down, and enjoy.
Otto became one of my favorite characters within the first few chapters, and I have read/watched/written THOUSANDS of characters.
Was he inspired by anyone? I can tell you really loved him, and so do I. He’s going to stay in my brain for years to come.
Otto was inspired by a boy whom I had a mad crush on in high school. He always wore a scarf and was quiet and mysterious. I loved trying to figure out why Otto wore that scarf in the book (although I’m quite sure the boy in real life had a very different reason)
Does your writing style change from book to book, or not?
Definitely. It changes to suit the story, absolutely.
Who was your favorite character to write in The Kneebone Boy?
I did like so many of the characters in that book, animals included. But I suppose Otto was my favorite, in part because he was so maddeningly elusive.
What are your five favorite books?
Hard to say, but among my faves are Holes, The Harry Potter series, Harriet the Spy, the Gilda Joyce series, and most of Roald Dahl’s books
I couldn’t help but notice that the cover matched PERFECTLY with the book, as covers so rarely do. Plus I love the Japanese style it was done with –
did you have a hand in picking the cover artist?
No, the publisher chose him and I was very lucky with Jason Chan. He’s incredible! I felt he captured those characters as if he saw them in my brain.
Do you ever think you’ll write about the Hardscrabble siblings again?
I’d like to and so many people have requested a sequel. I don’t have any immediate plans, but you never know . . .
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors or any quotes that have helped or inspired you along the way?
The very best advice I have for young writers is to write every day and read a ton of books. I co-authored a book with Anne Mazer called Spilling Ink, A Young Writer’s Handbook, which might be helpful to aspiring writers.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Hang out with my family, play with my dogs.
Have you written a book you love that you have not had published?
So far I’ve been lucky in that all my work has been published.
What does your workspace look like?
I’ll work anywhere, any time. On my couch, in my bed, at McDonalds, in a boat, in a closet. Really!
Do you keep notebooks/folders specifically for writing purposes?
I do but I’m wildly disorganized, so I’m not sure how helpful they are ultimately.
Thank you so much for the interview, Mrs. Potter! I can’t wait to read the rest of your books.