Sunday, June 2, 2024

Q&A with Sarah L. Thomson




Sarah L. Thomson is the author of the new middle grade novel Two Friends, One Dog, and a Very Unusual Week. Her many other books include the Secrets of the Seven series. She is based in Portland, Maine.


Q: What inspired you to write Two Friends, One Dog, and a Very Unusual Week


A: The Pippi Longstocking stories were a favorite when I was growing up. I was a goody two-shoes as a kid (and to be honest, I still kind of am). That’s probably why I loved Pippi so much—a fearless free spirit who’s never even heard of a rule!


I began to wonder how a Pippi-like character would fare in today’s society, where kids have much less freedom than they did back in 1945, when Astrid Lindgren created Pippi. Rani popped into my head, perched in an armchair aboard a moving van—and Two Friends got its start.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between your characters Emily and Rani?


A: Emily is very much me—an anxious rule-follower, someone who wants everything to be predictable and safe.


Rani upends that dynamic entirely—Rani doesn’t follow the rules because she doesn’t know what they are, even something as basic as “don’t bring your dog to school” or “don’t interrupt story time at the library to tell the whole class how you escaped a feral hippo.”


But the thing that draws these two very different characters together is that they both desperately need a friend.


Q: The Booklist review of the novel says, in part, “With wild, imaginative flair, fourth-grader Rani is a bit Pippi Longstocking, while her propensity to take language literally is a bit Amelia Bedelia. And like those fictional favorites, she’ll definitely appeal to readers.” Can you say more about those comparisons?


A: I’m very honored by both! As I mentioned, Pippi was as direct inspiration for Rani. And I wasn’t thinking of Amelia Bedelia when I was working on the book, but I can see the similarity.


Language is so much fun, and Rani uses language in a very colorful, dynamic way—sometime spinning wild stories that may or may not be true, sometimes following instructions to the letter just when that would cause the most chaos. 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: Mostly, I hope they have fun reading it. And maybe they can think a little bit about whether it’s ever worth it to break the rules, and about exactly what it takes to be a good friend. And, of course, they should remember that life is always better with a big, loyal dog at your side.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m polishing up a final draft of a fantasy called The Griffin’s Boy—it’s a mystery set in a medieval world and it involves a princess, several unicorns, a miniature dragon, a phoenix, and a baby griffin.

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I appreciate my readers so much—a book isn’t finished until it’s read. So thank you to everyone who picks up Two Friends and spends time with Emily and Rani. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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