A long undisturbed bedroom. A startling likeness. A mysterious friend.
When twelve-year-old Prince Lev Lvov goes to live with his aunt at Falcon House, he takes his rightful place as heir to the Lvov family estate. Prince Lev dreams of becoming a hero of Russia like his great ancestors. But he’ll discover that dark secrets haunt this house. Prince Lev is the only one who can set them free-will he be the hero his family needs?
Eugene Yelchin is a Russian born author and illustrator of children’s books.
In 2012, Breaking Stalin’s Nose, a middle grade novel that he had written and illustrated received a Newbery Honor award. Horn Book magazine called Breaking Stalin’s Nose one of the Best Books of 2011. In 2010, the picture book Rooster Prince of Breslov that he illustrated received the National Jewish Book Award. In 2006, he received a Tomie de Paola award. His other books received starred reviews, and were on Children’s Choice and the Independent Booksellers lists.
- What is on your nightstand?
Two stacks of books; one stack is for research, while the other stack is for pleasure. I’m writing a MG spy novel so in my research stack are books like The Secret History of KGB, and Cold War Espionage, and Spies, and Mole, and Thwarting Enemies at Home and Abroad, that sort of thing. In the stack of my pleasure reading/rereading is Dickens, and Tolstoy, and Nabokov, and Dahl, and Russian poetry.
- What author inspires you?
The list of authors that had inspired awe in me is very long, but usually I’m reading with a specific goal in mind. While I was writing The Haunting of Falcon House, I immersed myself in the Russian classical literature of the 19th century: Tolstoy, Turgenev, Gogol, Pushkin, Goncharov, and so on. I have read all of them in Russia as a young man, but understood little and cared even less. Reading them now and capable of appreciating their aspirations, their talent, and their worldview was an enormously enriching experience. Even if one iota of their humanism had found its way into the pages of Falcon House, I’d be very happy.
- What makes you cringe?
What makes me cringe is when I come across a writer who is afraid of pain. Ability to feel pain, to contain it, to express it honestly is what true writing is, in my opinion. Often, one reads a painful experience described in such a way that it just doesn’t ring true, because the writer is afraid to feel, and so relies on ready-make clichés, on formulas, on “rules” of dramatic writing. Usually, I do not read any further.
- Do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow?
For me to “go with a flow” would be a dream come true. Never once in my art, nor in my life did I manage, not that I didn’t try, to go with a flow. Every detail, every sentence, every word is a struggle. I plot quite obsessively in advance, but if I’m lucky, there might be a moment during the writing process, when it is not I who’s in the control of the material, but the material begins telling me where to go. This is a real bliss. If your material can surprise you, listen to it; you just got terrifically lucky.
- Is there a word you love to use?
I try to find a specific word or a combination of words for each of my main characters that they tend to use repeatedly. The trick is to create a progression of the meaning in that word’s usage, i.e. if at the beginning of the story, the word means one thing, usually quite innocent, then during the course of the narrative, the word begins to acquire new meanings, it becomes more loaded with feeling as a result of what is taking place dramatically.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE HAUNTING OF FALCON HOUSE, US Only.
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