Welcome to this stop on the Wonder Light- Unicorns of the Mist Blog Tour! I had the chance to interview the author, R. R. Russell, about her new middle grade fantasy novel.
1. Please tell me about the book in your own words.
Twelve-year-old Twig is falsely accused of a crime and sent to live at a pony ranch for troubled girls—on a misty island rumored to be haunted by ghost horses. Lonehorn Island has been abandoned for ages, but now the Murleys, who’ve been foster parents forever, have carved a home out of the mist-shrouded trees and filled it with unwanted girls. As soon as she sets foot on the island, ghostly glimpses of a boy on horseback have Twig considering swallowing her pride and begging her way off Lonehorn Island, whether her stepmother wants her back or not. But on her first night at the ranch, a strange mare with cloven hooves appears in the stable. And then, something even more incredible happens. Twig witnesses the birth of a baby unicorn.
Twig is drawn so deep into the island and its secrets, there’s no turning back. She must protect the unicorn filly, the Murleys, and the cast-off girls of Island Ranch from the wild creatures bent on reclaiming the island. She must save the family and the future she never thought she’d have.
2. What inspired you to take a new look at unicorns?
A few years ago, when I was struggling to sell a different book to a publisher—a book about a prize fighter—my friend joked that maybe I should add some unicorns, and then it would sell. A fighter and unicorns? That got me thinking about writing a book about unicorns who fight. I remembered how my walls used to be covered with posters of unicorns, leaping and shimmering with rainbow colors. They seemed to belong in a different, brighter world. They were beautiful, powerful, and free. I loved to look at them and to draw them, but I never really believed in magical, horned creatures bounding through the clouds. So I made my unicorns the sort of real, wild animals I could believe in.
3. What was your path to publication like?
It was long and rocky. It took thirteen years of querying polished manuscripts to get my first hardcover deal for Wonder Light.
4. What books did you like as a child?
I loved a mystery series called The Three Investigators. I also loved more serious books like The Call of the Wild and Island of the Blue Dolphins.
5. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Live a full life. It will enrich your writing and get you through the tough times in your writing life. As an introvert, I learned this the hard (and slow) way. It was a painful, lonely lesson. Now when I hear people say, “Writing is my life,” I cringe. Pour your heart and soul into your writing, yes, but if writing truly IS your life, you’re in trouble. Take time away from writing to be alive, and your work will come alive.
Wonder Light: Unicorns of the Mist (Sourcebooks May 7, 2013)