Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Caldric Blackwell, Author of The Missing Alchemist

caldric blackwell, easy read fantasy, middle grade novel, the missing alchemist, middle grade novel, early chapter book, middle grade
Caldric Blackwell is the author of the easy read fantasy novel The Missing Alchemist.

Describe your new middle grade novel, The Missing Alchemist.
The Missing Alchemist, book 1 in the Young Alchemist series, follows the story of fourteen-year-old Craig Pike. Having grown up in an orphanage, Craig appreciates his comfortable life as a student of Cornelius, a famous alchemist. But when Cornelius is kidnapped, Craig leaves comfort behind to search for him.

Craig teams up with Audrey Clife, a clever archer, and together they travel across mysterious lands and battle otherworldly creatures. Their journey reveals that Cornelius’s kidnapping is only a small part of an evil alchemist’s elaborate grab for power, and the only people standing in his way are Craig and Audrey…

How was the experience of writing a middle grade novel different from writing your last book, The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf or your early chapter book, The Enchanted River Race?
Good question! It was the same in that it started with a very simple idea and grew from there. In The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry Wolf, I started with the idea of a young werewolf who has to solve a problem. In The Missing Alchemist, I started with a young alchemist who must rescue his teacher. Writing The Missing Alchemist differed from writing a picture book in that the development of the story was a lot more complex – more characters, more events, etc.

Additionally, there was a fair amount of world-building in The Missing Alchemist. The main characters, Craig and Audrey, travel to a number of different areas throughout the novel, so I had to create environments, histories, etc for each region. I also had to think about the grand trajectory of the plot since the book is part of a series.

The Missing Alchemist is very different from your other books because it’s aimed at an older audience. What made you decide to write a middle grade novel?
While working out the basics of the story, it became clear to me that The Missing Alchemist would be best as a middle grade novel. The story was simply too complicated to be an early chapter book. At the same time, it was too simple to be a young adult novel, so it became a middle grade novel. I didn't start out thinking, "I want to write a middle grade novel." I might try that approach in the future, though!

What made you decide to write an alchemist book?
I was fascinated when I first learned about medieval alchemists in history class when I was in elementary school. It was so interesting I had to re-visit it all these years later with my writing.

Who was your favorite character to write?
I had fun writing all the characters. I think I had the most interesting time writing Bert, a blacksmith. It was a unique experience writing him because he starts out as a minor character yet influences the direction of the plot in a major way. I can’t say anything more without giving something away, but keep an eye out for him while reading the book!

Did you read any middle grade novels growing up?
Yes! I really liked Lemony Snicket’s The Series of Unfortunate Events. I love that they have this dark, gothic vibe yet at the same time are light-spirited and whimsical.

Do you listen to music while you write?
Yes! Music is a huge part of my life and is an integral part of my creative process. Sometimes, if the ideas aren't coming quickly enough, I'll take a break and play guitar or piano. Music and writing go hand-in-hand for me. 

What do you have in mind for your next project?
I’m currently working on the next book in the Young Alchemist series. I’m really excited about it because there are a couple revelations in The Missing Alchemist that are left somewhat open-ended for the sequel. The readers will also get to see more of the world. There are some really interesting places I think readers will enjoy!

Anything else you want to tell potential readers?
Anyone interested in learning more about The Missing Alchemist or any of my other books can find more information at www.caldricblackwell.com.

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