Laura Brown and Elly Kramer are the authors of the new Trillium Sisters series for kids. The first book in the series is The Triplets Get Charmed, and the second is Bestie Day. They have both worked in children's television. Brown lives in Tenafly, New Jersey, and Kramer lives in Los Angeles.
Q: What inspired you to create the Trillium Sisters, and did you know from the start that it would be a series?
Laura: The books were inspired by a family ski trip to Colorado. I don’t ski as well as the rest of my family so one day, I found myself alone on a gentle slope. It was one of those perfect spring days when the sun is so warm you’re skiing in a t-shirt.
To the side of the run was a gorgeous stand of Douglas Firs. I stopped to admire them and found myself imagining what kind of world might exist within those trees - who lived there and how? I simply couldn’t stop dreaming about it!
I told Elly when I got home and she was just as excited as I was. We began to build the characters and world from there.
Elly: Laura came back from her vacation incredibly inspired by what she had experienced. And though I am much more of a city girl (and I don’t know how to ski!), I too, felt really excited by the setting she described.
Throughout my career in children’s television, I’ve always loved the idea of telling stories that revolve around families - they’re so important to young kids and though they all look different, it’s something everyone can relate to.
I have a sister and a brother, and while the three of us are incredibly close, when we were young, my sister and I came up with this ditty called “Sister Powers, Forever.” And I just kept thinking about how fun it would be to tell stories about sisters. It felt so ripe for great storytelling - sisters love intensely, can fight intensely, joke intensely.
Q: Do you usually know how the stories will end, or do you make many changes along the way?
Laura: Because we co-write, we brainstorm and outline stories together before we begin writing. When we have the basic plot of the story and the character arcs, one of us then takes responsibility for writing the actual book while the other one acts as story editor - and cheerleader!
Elly: Laura is fond of saying that we get each other unstuck and she is so right. I may have a hard time getting through a scene and Laura is so helpful in getting me to the other side. Or Laura may write some dialogue and ask me to plus things up. I love “yes anding” with her!
Q: Should the books be read in order?
Laura: I’d say children should read book 1 (The Triplets Get Charmed) first because it explains how the girls discover their trillium petal charms can combine to give them magical powers.
The sisters learn more about their powers in each successive book, so it would be best to read them in order. However, the crucial background is provided in book 1. Kids can vary the order after that.
Elly: And hopefully want to read them over and over again :)
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the books?
Laura: The series is first and foremost an adventure fantasy. I hope kids get lost in the stories! In my opinion, those experiences make passionate readers.
I hope the alpine oasis we’ve created helps children fall in love with nature so they grow up to be guardians of the earth. So many children today don’t get to spend a day in the woods!
I also want readers to understand that everything in the natural world is connected. This helps kids see beyond themselves and become more sensitive and compassionate.
It’s no mistake that this is a series about sisters who save the day. Girls can be the heroes of their own stories - we call that modern princess magic!
But it also was quite intentional that the male characters – the dad and younger brother – are just as strong. I want readers to feel that there’s room for strong boys and strong girls. We all rise together and we need everyone’s ideas for the best solutions.
Elly: Laura answered perfectly. I would only add that my mother was reading the first book with my niece a few days ago. My niece insisted that my mother read the book the entire way through. She literally did not want to put it down. To bring joy to a child’s life through our storytelling - it’s an indescribable feeling.
Q: What are you working on now?
Laura: I’m working on some picture books and another chapter book series.
The picture books are a humorous take on sibling relationships, which fascinate me. My three children are very close but when they were little, I had many nights where I worried it wouldn’t work out that way!
The chapter book series is about someone who doesn’t fit in and his journey to not only find his place but also to discover the incredible gifts he has been given.
Elly: I have two TV ideas that I’ve been working on - both are character driven comedies for young kids. Stay tuned!
Q: Anything else we should know?
Laura: Elly and I initially met through our work in children’s television. Our writing partnership was forged in the ladies’ room at a production company, where so many great deals are cut!
I’ve always loved storytelling. As a child, the world of Oz created in the Wizard of Oz book series captivated me. I don’t think I ever got over it! I still read to be transported to another world. I think that’s why my favorite genre as an adult is historical fiction.
Like the Trillium Sisters, I love nature, animals and outdoor activities. My current dog, a rescue named Charley Brown (yep, Charley is a girl), is part German Shepherd, part Hound, and part human. Whenever I have time, you’ll find me hiking with Charley, biking, swimming (and even skiing, if someone prods me a bit).
Elly: I remember the first time Laura and I met to brainstorm. It was at a cafe on the Upper West Side. Who knew that three and a half years later, I’d be holding a hard copy of our published book? And that we’re lucky enough to have three more books to come in the series.
This experience has been such an incredible undertaking - pushing ourselves creatively, taking the leap and becoming book authors, overcoming self-doubt. I feel an incredible amount of pride and gratitude for what Laura and I accomplished.
And while I am less of a nature girl than Laura, my husband has gotten me into composting and we are growing our own vegetables in our backyard. Not bad for a diehard New Yorker, who still keeps her Metrocard in her wallet even though I’ve lived in L.A. for five years!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb