Natalie Lloyd lives, writes and daydreams in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her first novel, A Snicker of Magic, was released by Scholastic in February. She listens to bluegrass music, collects old books, and likes exploring quirky mountain towns with her dog, Biscuit.
For what age audience do you write?
I’m most excited when young readers connect with the book. I like writing tween characters because they’re still brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeve. They’re imaginative, curious and hopeful. And I vividly remember how I felt in middle school – awkward, brave, hopeful, self-conscious, curious and afraid- all at once. All of those feelings still tumble together inside me, but they felt much more intense in middle school. As far as genre, I love writing magical realism. I used to think I would write fantasy, and I might do some of that eventually. But I have the most fun writing about the magic a character can find in an ordinary day.
Tell us about your book.
A Snicker of Magic is the story of 12 year old Felicity Pickle, who has moved all over the South with her dog, her sister, and her road-loving mother. The Pickles move back to their mama’s hometown, a quirky little spot in Tennessee called Midnight Gulch. Felicity soon learns Midnight Gulch is famous (or infamous, maybe) because it used to be a magical place, and people who lived there had magic in their veins…until a curse drove the magic away. When Felicity discovers the curse is linked to her own family’s misfortune, she sets out to break the curse, bring back the magic, and find a permanent home for her wandering heart.
Henry: I’d think twice about moving to a town named Midnight Gulch.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
If a reader enjoys reading the story, that’s an incredible thing for a writer to hear. Readers have shared different ways they connected with the story, and I’m always bowled over. One of my favorites is when readers decide to “Be the Beedle.” There’s an anonymous do-gooder in Midnight Gulch, a mysterious character called The Beedle, who has been doing kind things all over town for years. Some readers have decided to be the Beedle in their classrooms and communities, and that makes my heart spin.
Henry: Not to be confused with Dan Santat’s Beekle.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
I think most writers do their best writing when they’re brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves. That can make other parts of this process painful. But having an openness to the world, and especially a sensitivity to people, makes for better writing and a better life. Even when you’re doing what you love, I think dark days can make you feel pretty low. But the joy I get from writing, and from connecting with readers who’ve loved the book, make all the tough days worth it.
Read the rest of this interview at Henry’s blog on KidLit, Fantasy & Science Fiction.