Sunday, August 5, 2012

Guest blogger, Anne E. Johnson

It is my pleasure today to host my very first guest blogger here at Out on a Limb, Anne E. Johnson. If you know Anne, you've likely been awed by the whirlwind success she's enjoyed lately. This summer marked the release of her noir sci fi novel for adults, Green Light Delivery (Candlemark & Gleam), as well as the release of her tween paranormal mystery, Ebenezer's Locker (MuseItUp Publishing), and now the launch of her tween medieval mystery, Trouble at the Scriptorium (Royal Fireworks.) See what I mean - whirlwind success!



Trouble at the Scriptorium

Synopsis: Harley is a twelve-year-old servant boy at a castle north of London in the thirteenth century. Lady Margaret, also twelve, is the daughter of the castle's lord. Together they must puzzle out a message hidden 
in a book of Gregorian chant. There's something very suspicious going on at the scriptorium where the book was made, and people's lives are in danger!


The Magic of Reality 

I wrote Trouble at the Scriptorium for two main reasons: 

1) I have a master’s degree in medieval music, and I wanted to share some of that fascinating information with kids by presenting it in a fun, exciting story. 

2) It was the height of Harry Potter obsession (about four years ago), and I was tired of “medievalist” ideas always being presented as fantasy. 

And so, I plunged into my first historical novel. I decided to set it in 13th-century England. I invented a protagonist, a twelve-year-old servant boy named Harley, who lives in a castle north of London. He needed to have a natural interest in music (his father’s a jester and his uncle is the choirmaster at a monastery), but not be a musician himself, so he could learn along with the reader. 

I had no idea how to write a mystery, but I knew I wanted to focus on Gregorian chant. The crafting of books is a wonderful topic, so I combined those two ideas: Harley discovers that a newly-made book of Gregorian chant has one of its painted illuminations missing. 

At first, Harley assumes this is a most unfortunate error, but he’s especially concerned about it because the book is a name-day present for the lady of his castle. (A “name day” was the special feast day for the saint a person was named after; this tradition is still practiced in some parts of the world.)  

Lady Ursula has also just had her family jewels stolen, so she’s already upset. This makes Harley desperate to cover up or fix the problem with the chant book. But the more he learns about the book, the more problems he discovers in it. Eventually he realizes it contains a hidden message, which he cracks with the help of Lady Ursula’s beautiful, brilliant daughter, Lady Margaret. 

I tried to make Trouble at the Scriptorium accurate and detailed, yet also an entertaining mystery that would appeal to intelligent kids. Creating it inspired me to continue writing historical fiction specifically for the middle-grade market (I’ve already written a sequel to Trouble at the Scriptorium!). I enjoy the special challenges it offers. 
* * *

Here are some fun links about Harley's world.

You can learn more about Anne E. Johnson at her website.

For updates on Anne’s publications and appearances, like her Facebook author page.

You can buy Trouble at the Scriptorium directly from Royal Fireworks Press.

This just in: Anne has signed a contract for the sequel to Trouble at the Scriptorium! Harley and Lady Margeret have another adventure in their future: The London Hurdy Gurdy.





37 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting, Anne, Ruth. Anne, what a creative way to use your background in medieval music. I also find it refreshing that you write across genres - for kids and adults. How have your branded yourself? (This was just an issue of discussion over at Kelly Hashway's blog.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did just talk about that. How timely! :)

      Delete
    2. Branding has been a point of much consideration for me. I seem to be settling into two separate brands: MG historical fiction and adult sci fi. We'll see how that works out!

      Delete
  2. Congrats to Anne on this book and the new contract. Such exciting news!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ruth, thank you for this intro to Anne! Anne, congratulations on your books! Thank you for sharing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Kelly and Karen. It thrills me anytime people show an interest in my work. Amazing to me that the little stories in my head can be developed into something that other people get excited about.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting that medieval historical fiction is so often confused with fantasy. Congrats -- great inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congrats on the whirlwind of success, Anne! Medieval mystery & music sound like an intriguing combination. This is definitely for the kids who like to challenge themselves intellectually.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ruth, I am so excited about Scriptorium, and to think there's going to be a sequel! Fun, fun, fun. My kids will eat this up. Congratulations Anne!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the medieval period and since Anne has a background in the music of that time, I'm looking forward to reading the details she'll be able to put into her story. Congratulations and good luck with this, Anne.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anne's book sounds riveting. I wish I knew more about medieval music. She wrote about what she knows, which is a good starting point. This one is a must-get-it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This book looks so exciting! Can't wait to read it :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. It really was a fun project to put all of this rather obscure knowledge into a kids' story. I hope it's as much fun to read as it was to write!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love that Anne used her expertise in medieval music! Thanks for the introduction Ruth! :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. That sounds like a really great book, Anne! Gregorian Chant is some of the prettiest music written. I love the way it looks on paper, too... so different from traditional musical notation. Congratulations!

    Thanks for interviewing, Ruth. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, I like the sound of Anne's historical fiction book. It combines many elements I love -- the medievil period and music. Sounds like a great read! I love Gregorian chants. Thanks for the interview Ruth!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Coleen, Katrina, and Patricia, thanks for checking in! Yes, Gregorian chant is fascinating music. On my website I link to a recording of the chant featured in the novel!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Huge congrats on the book. How every exciting:)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Congrats Anne on all of your success! So exciting!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anne's work sounds FASCINATING... I'm very intrigued!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for hosting Anne, Ruth! The book sounds great, and it was fun to hear about how it came to be.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ruth, off topic for a moment:

    I've tagged you for an award. I think you're one of the most amazing bloggers I know.

    http://katrinadelallo.blogspot.com/2012/08/thanks-for-being-you-award.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm a big fan of KidLit based on historic events...fascinating, Anne! I'm checking out your website, too...thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ruth ~ Thanks for having Anne as a guest blogger - I'm definitely going to purchase Scriptorium!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow, this MG book sounds like an award winner. And, yes, what a whirlwind success! Awesome!

    Congratulations to Anne. Best wishes for great success with all her books.

    Thanks for sharing all this exciting news with us, Ruth!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ruth, thanks for introducing me to Anne E. Johnson.

    Anne, sounds like a busy, exciting year for you. Fascinating to hear how you came up with the idea for your novel using your background.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What an impressive way to create a plot for a novel. You've certainly got me wanting to read more.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm humbled by all these kind and encouraging comments. I hope everyone who reads Scriptorium thoroughly enjoys it.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Writing historical fiction is hard work. It sounds like you are doing a brilliant job, Anne.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Congrats to Anne on her achievements! I am so curious about her books and I cannot wait to read Scriptorium. It just sounds fabulous and I enjoy a good HF book. I loved hearing how she came up with the idea for the story. Wishing her much success!
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
  29. This sounds so good. I'm fascinated by anything to do with the scribes of old.

    ReplyDelete
  30. How fascinating. I do like books that take place in another country and it sounds like Harley is a very interesting character.

    -Lauren

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yay, Anne you're on fire. Scriptorium sounds yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Ruth, first time visitor stopping in from Facebook to say hello. And good luck to Ann and her book Trouble at the Scriptorium!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Poyet satisfied with the 2-2 draw result with M.City

    http://www.football-images.net/2014-04-18/03449f53c4af3aaff1677430d87c78f0.jpg
    Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com reported, Sunderland manager Gus Poyet joked he was lucky to still have his health after guiding Sunderland to a 2-2 draw at Manchester City.
    Poyet insisted he was happy to still be standing after a match that burst into life in the latter stages. He said: "I haven't had the heart attack that football is trying to give me every game. We deserved better.’’ as reported by Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com.
    He added: "We conceded a goal after two minutes at Manchester City and every single person in the world expected us to lose from there. But we passed the ball and created chances. We kept believing." as reported by Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com.
    Source http://indo11.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. Pulis accepts Palace job thanks to Ferguson and Peter

    http://www.football-images.net/2014-04-18/a24dfcee84726e303ddfbdc3e912b86c.jpg
    Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com reported, Tony Pulis has revealed Alex Ferguson and Stoke City chairman Peter Coates convinced him to take the Crystal Palace job in November.
    Pulis has revealed he only accepted the Palace job after endorsements from two of his closest allies in football, his old boss at Stoke and former United manager Ferguson. as reported by Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com.
    Pulis said: "Did I have doubts about taking it? It was difficult. I met (Palace chairman) Steve Parish and spoke to Steve about four or five times and I didn't feel it was right. Alex Ferguson and Peter Coates, my old chairman at Stoke, they were the only two who said to take it. They were two very good judges!’’ as reported by Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com.
    He added: "I hadn't seen Palace play, but I enjoy a challenge. It's in my nature to stand up and try to march people forward and we've done that. The players have been wonderful and you can't do it without them. They have responded to us and given us everything."
    Source http://indo11.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Poyet: Ki absent for two weeks

    http://www.football-images.net/2014-04-18/a3b8275d88b7c200f51612b14cfcc034.jpg
    Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com reported, According to Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet, Ki Sung-Yueng could be out for up to two weeks with tendonitis. He is very important for the club and is the one helping the club to ensure the Premier League survival. Poyet hopes to have the 25-year-old back sooner rather than later.
    He said: "Nothing serious, but it was getting worse, so we had a good chat, he had an MRI, we talked to the doctor in the national team and it was time to stop. That was the hardest part because he's been outstanding" as reported by Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com.
    He added: "He feels terrible now. It's about feelings and it's about controlling emotions. We win all together, we celebrate. When we beat Man United (on penalties to reach League Cup final) all together we were all responsible - him a little bit more. as reported by Agen bola terpercaya indo11.com.
    "That doesn't mean I changed my mind. He needs to recover quick. We need him for Saturday (away at Chelsea)."
    Source http://indo11.com

    ReplyDelete