All Four Kids: An Interview With Lauren Magaziner, Author of The Only Thing Worse Than Witches

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Today we’re chatting with Lauren Magaziner, author of the wonderful middle-grade novel, The Only Thing Worse Than Witches.

About THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES:

The Only Thing Worse Than Witches Roald Dahl meets Eva Ibbotson in this hilarious middle grade debut perfect for reading aloud.

Rupert Campbell is fascinated by the witches who live nearby. He dreams of broomstick tours and souvenir potions, but Rupert’s mother forbids him from even looking at that part of town. The closest he can get to a witchy experience is sitting in class with his awful teacher Mrs. Frabbleknacker, who smells like bellybutton lint and forbids Rupert’s classmates from talking to each other before, during, and after class. So when he sees an ad to become a witch’s apprentice, Rupert simply can’t resist applying.

But Witchling Two isn’t exactly what Rupert expected. With a hankering for lollipops and the magical aptitude of a toad, she needs all the help she can get to pass her exams and become a full-fledged witch. She’s determined to help Rupert stand up to dreadful Mrs. Frabbleknacker too, but the witchling’s magic will be as useful as a clump of seaweed unless Rupert can figure out a way to help her improve her spellcasting—and fast!

The Only Thing Worse Than Witches will be published on August 14, 2014 by Dial.

Indiebound | Barnes and Noble | BAM | Powells | Amazon | Goodreads

1. Hi Lauren. Congratulations on your publication of The Only Thing Worse Than Witches. It was a book I was looking forward to from the first moment I heard of it. You studied creative writing, and actually wrote The Only Thing Worse Than Witches while at college. When did you figure out you wanted to be writer, and what inspired you to become one?

Thanks, Patrick!! And I can’t wait for your book, too! NEXT YEAR!

I actually started writing books when I was 13. Here’s how it happened: I was hanging around my 8th grade English teacher’s classroom library, looking for a book to read but not really finding anything I was in the mood for. My teacher said to me, “Why don’t you try writing one?”

I loved reading. I loved writing short stories and essays. But I had never really considered writing a novel before! But that very night, I started writing my first book, crouched over my computer in the basement. When I finished the draft six months later, I knew that my writing wasn’t nearly ready for publication. But I enjoyed the process so much that I kept writing books all throughout high school and college–until my writing was ready! I think I have about 10ish (I’ve lost count!) shelved manuscripts before I wrote The Only Thing Worse Than Witches while I was a Junior in college.

It took a lot of time, a lot of practice, a lot of persistence, and a LOT of hard work!

All worth it, of course!!!! 🙂

2. If you were going to fantasy-cast the movie of The Only Thing Worse Than Witches, who would you have in it?

I never had actors or actresses in mind when writing, and this is especially tough because I’m not sure I’m very well-versed in 11-year-old actors, but I’m going to try.

Rupert: Art Parkinson. You know… Rickon Stark on Game of Thrones. He may not say much on GoT, but I think he’s positively adorable!

Witchling Two: Kyla Kenedy. She plays Mika on The Walking Dead. She’s got the most adorable smile and infectious energy in her interviews! Wrangle her hair into a high ponytail, and she’d do marvelously!

Mrs. Frabbleknacker: I know this is the one everyone wants to know…. but I don’t even know. It would take a heck of a lot of make-up and some serious acting chops to play such a horrible meanie. I’ll leave this one to the imagination.

Also, TINA FEY for president. I don’t know where, and I don’t know how, but I WANT her in it because she’s the best.

Actually, final answer: I would pay big bucks to see Tina Fey play every single part in The Only Thing Worse Than Witches.

3. Mrs. Frabbleknacker must be one of the most repulsive teachers I’ve ever come across in a book. Admit it! Which of your teachers was she based on? You can tell us. She’ll never find out.

You caught me! She’s based on my high school teacher named Mrs. Pabblesnacker. (JUST KIDDING.)

4. The Only Thing Worse Than Witches is full of wild, fun, and fantastic ideas. What was your favorite bit of the book to write?

Any scene that includes the line, “BUNNYYYYYYYYY AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” was probably my favorite scene to write.

Same goes for any scene that includes the line, “Children,” she said, as though she was saying something truly awful, like _______ or _______.”

I love writing scenes with Witchling Two because she’s so animated and fun. I love writing the school scenes because Mrs. Frabbleknacker is so evilly delicious; you never know what she’s going to do next.

5. Almost every writer ends up having to cut bits of their book to make it better, and sometimes cutting those bits is worse than cutting off your own feet (yes I am revising right now…). Can you tell us the thing you most regretted having to cut?

I had to cut some jokes that were pretty near and dear to my heart. For example, the scene in which Rupert bumps into Mrs. Gummyyum in the beginning, and she’s rattling off ideas for ice cream flavors? Well, that scene used to be much longer and included:

“Ooooh, shepherd’s ice cream,” Mrs. Gummyyum said. “That’s a good idea!”

“You mean shepherd’s pie ice cream?” Rupert asked.

“Goodness, no! I’m talking about genuine sheep shepherds! I wonder if one would let me nibble on his arm . . . ”

That used to make me giggle. There were other jokes, too, that I rather enjoyed but didn’t necessarily advance the plot. I agreed with my genius editors that cutting the excess jokes made for faster pacing. (And, hey, now I can save some material for later! Dibs on that Shepherd’s joke!)

6. If you had to be a witch, which of the witches in your book would you be (you don’t get to be Witchling 2; that would be too easy)? And whose toes would you boil?

Of the adult witches, I feel very partial to the Storm Witch. Storm is an unpredictably-emotional, highly-enthusiastic nutter. Why I’d like to be her: she seems to have a good time. She is high-ranking in the Witches Council, has a great little family unit, and is just kooky enough to get away with screaming wildly in public for no apparent reason.

And I’d boil whoever’s toes look tastiest. *cackles*

7. As you’re doing this interview for the Fearless Fifteeners, we want to know one thing you’re afraid of (other than bunnies) and one thing you’re not afraid of.

I’m afraid of spiders. So much so that I can’t even look at a picture of one. I guess it didn’t really help that I grew up in a wooded area with hundreds of big, fat, hairy spiders. (The biggest one I ever saw was legitimately the size of my head. I named it Aragog. Then I shrieked so loud that they probably heard me in Australia.)

However, I’m not afraid of the only thing worse than witches. 😉

Thanks, Lauren! Your book is really fun, and I know middle grade readers are going to love it!

Indiebound | Barnes and Noble | BAM | Powells | Amazon | Goodreads

ABOUT LAUREN MAGAZINER

Lauren MagazinerLauren Magaziner grew up in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where she spent her childhood with her nose in a book and her fingers curled over a keyboard.

She currently lives in Brooklyn where she writes humorous, whimsical, wonky children’s books. She also now works for two delightful Scholastic classroom magazines, and her coworkers still think her last name is a hoax. She loves writing short stories, plays, and articles for the magazine and creating online teaching resources.

You can find Lauren on her website, facebook, or twitter.

Photo of Patrick SamphireDinosaur hunter. Accidental archeologist. Armchair adventurer. Some of these things may not be true about Patrick Samphire. What is true is that Patrick is the author of the extremely thrilling and sometimes funny middle grade adventure, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt / Macmillan), coming your way in Spring 2015. He lives in Wales, U.K., where it occasionally doesn’t rain.
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