Q: How to Help a Cupid is the latest in your Magical Creatures and Crafts series. What inspired this new book?
A: I had brainstormed a few ideas with my agent and editor, because usually these books include a holiday (but not always. See How to Find a Unicorn and How to Meet a Mermaid).
I was drawn to the idea of a book about Valentine’s Day, because as a kid, Valentine’s Day was always fun and involved eating chocolate and making and exchanging Valentines. But I never really understood or cared to learn how the day started or why we celebrate it.
So, for How To Help a Cupid, I not only needed to create a story, but decided that was an opportunity to incorporate what Valentine’s Day is all about, its history, and of course, Cupid, into the kids’ adventure.
Q: What are some of your favorite Valentine's Day traditions?
A: As a child, I loved those candy “conversation” hearts with the sayings on them, and also giving Valentines to loved ones. My husband and I don’t really celebrate the day other than exchanging cards (fun fact that’s in the book: people exchange nearly a billion valentines each year!). When my kids were little, it was a lot more fun, so I’m glad the story centers around children.
Q: What would you say are some of the most common perceptions and misperceptions about Valentine's Day?
A: First, that you have to have a romantic Valentine! I had many Valentine’s Days as a single girl/woman, and there’s nothing worse than being asked if you are dating or have a special someone on that day.
That’s another theme I wanted to explore with the book, that you can have friends as Valentines because it doesn’t have to be about romantic love, it can just be loving someone or doing something special for someone you care about.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: Being helpful and kind are paramount, and that teamwork triumphs in the end.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am committing to finishing a draft of a middle grade novel that I started many years ago. I’ll keep you posted!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I’m so glad this book is launching in 2022. At first, I was disappointed when it got delayed due to Covid, but now it will actually have a fair chance to reach its readers. Also, please support your indie booksellers!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Sue Fliess.