The Wednesdays Author Julie Bourbeau joins us, on a Wednesday!
Today we are joined by two special guests, our former Random House Children’s Books intern Teresa is back with her interview with author Julie Bourbeau to talk about the soon to be released middle grade novel The Wednesdays.
The Wednesdays is the story of an ordinary boy named Max, who is thrown into extraordinary circumstances when he realizes that the creatures who run amuck in his town one day a week causing mayhem have selected him to join their ranks! But Max doesn’t want to become one of the Wednesdays, who with their eerie silver eyes, squat bodies and square heads, cause harm to everyone he loves. Max enlists the help of a band of oddball characters to help him find a cure for his case of Wednesdays, and he must do so quickly before his humanity is lost to him forever! This is a funny, clever story with memorable characters and fantastical elements that will appeal to many young readers. Debut author Julie Bourbeau joins us to talk about her new middle-grade novel and what inspired her to write The Wednesdays. –Teresa
Is there a particular reason why you chose Wednesday as the most mischievous day of the week?
At the time that I came up with the idea for the book I was living in Barcelona, Spain. I had just moved there with my infant son (who, much like Baby Leland, spit up constantly!), I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t yet speak the language. This meant that I spent much of my time just roaming the streets, pushing a baby stroller and trying to explore the city. My son’s nap and eating schedule dictated that afternoons were the best time, so that’s when we went out on our little adventures. In Spain, however, afternoon is the worst time to explore because that’s when the shops close for mediodía – what we might call an after lunch siesta time. In my neighborhood, EVERYTHING closed for several hours each afternoon, and shops and homes alike drew metal shutters over the windows to keep out the Mediterranean sun. One Wednesday afternoon I was feeling sleep deprived and grumpy (a bit like Max’s mom), and I ranted a little to myself: How is it possible that absolutely everything is closed in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week? Where IS everyone? It’s positively creepy! To entertain myself and my son (who was not yet old enough to understand, but I had no one else to talk to), I began to make up a fun little story about why a town would be closed and shuttered on a Wednesday afternoon…and the wednesdays were born!
Which Wednesday character is your favorite and why?
Definitely Ninety-eight. I love the idea that a child can be both good and naughty at the same time. My son was literally growing up with the book as I wrote, and as a toddler he was quite the little imp. (He still is, in fact.) He was responsible for quite a few wednesday-like mishaps – colorful marks on walls, even more colorful spills, remote controls gone missing, and so on. Yet between his naughty episodes he was and is a funny, charming, sweet little boy…just like Ninety-eight. (Fortunately he’s far less naughty than Ninety-eight!)
I really loved the small town of oddball characters you created in this story. Did you grow up in a town similar to this? If not, what inspired the setting/characters?
I wish that I had grown up with characters like these – my childhood would have been much more interesting! Actually, as I wrote the book I was living at the base of the real Mt. Tibidabo, where there really is an amusement park. The first time I explored the Tibidabo area the amusement park, which is quite old fashioned and quirky, was closed for the winter. As a result, the small residential area immediately around it had a magical and haunted sort of feel about it.
I loved the friendship between Max, Noah and Gemma, especially how they were unique characters who came together to form a really dynamic group. Which character out of these three were you most like as a child?
I was probably most like Gemma – precocious and, I’m embarrassed to say, a bit of a know-it-all. I wanted to be more like a Max, though!
What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
My favorite chapter to write was probably the one in which Dr. Conkle-Smoak first appears. He was the character I had the most fun writing. He’s absolutely ridiculous, but he takes himself very seriously. Believe it or not, I actually did a lot of research on all of the seemingly nonsensical terms he throws out! I also think that I may have been subconsciously writing a sort of anti-wizard – he’s a bit of parody of the far more serious and capable wizards in the Harry Potter books. (Don’t get me wrong – I love Harry Potter! But each and every person who learned that I was writing a middle grade book asked me the same question: “Oh, just like Harry Potter?” I may have been feeling a bit cheeky about it.)
What was your favorite genre to read as a child, and do you have a favorite genre to read now?
This might make me sound a bit strange, but I loved horror stories even when I was quite young. The original Grimm fairy tales fascinated me, and I started reading Stephen King books at a far younger age than I probably should have. I don’t read much horror these days, but I read just about everything else – my reading habits are definitely eclectic.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
I’d just encourage them to unleash their imagination as often as possible. This book started off as a fun way to explain a frustrating situation for me. Let your imagination improve upon events that are dull or frustrating or difficult – your creative version is bound to be far more entertaining and fun!
Many thanks to Teresa (we all miss you!) and to author Julie Bourbeau for joining us today at RAoR with this lovely and fun Q&A !
Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.