Interview: Emily Ecton
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Current Song: Done by Lucy Woodward
Emily Ecton: NPR writer and producer by day, chinchilla wrangler by night. When not working on her new book series for kids, she can be found watching a good movie, curling up with a good book, or working on the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Earlier this year, I read Emily's first book, Boots and Pieces. Since then, we've discussed bits of books (The Westing Game) and pieces of TV shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, Quantum Leap), but today, we're just talking about her. Well, okay, we're also talking about books. And TV shows. And swamp monsters. And sisters. And small dogs.
Arlie has a spunky nature, but she's not mean, and she has a healthy mix of daring-do and caution. What do you think scares her?
The monsters in the books definitely scare her, but the fear of the monsters is balanced out with the fear of getting in trouble or being a social outcast, which are just as bad as some slimy thing down at the lake. Plus Arlie has a definite habit of not quite thinking things through before she does them. If she did, she'd probably stay safe at home.
The personalities and priorities of Arlie and her older sister Tina are quite different. Do you have any siblings?
I have a younger sister, so I get the whole nobody-messes-with-my-sister-but-me thing, which helped a lot with the books. But I promise, she's not Tina! (And I'm not just saying that because she'll pummel me if I don't.) We both like to accuse the other of being the real life Tina when we're grouchy, but the truth is that neither of us is Tina or Arlie.
Mr. Boots is quite a character. How is your real dog, Binky?
Binky's definitely not the fashion plate that Mr. Boots is. She's a whippet, so she doesn't have much in the way of hair for styling. Plus there's a lot of stuff that Mr. Boots puts up with that Binky never would -- she'd just give me the long, cool, "are you serious?" look and go about her business. She does have an embarrassing habit of lying around in very inelegant poses though, and that helped inspire me for THE CURSE OF CUDDLES MCGEE, when Mr. Boots goes nude.
Boots and Pieces has a swamp monster, while The Curse of Cuddles McGee deals with a zombie hamster. What inspired these fun, wacky villains?
I like scary, suspenseful movies and books, but I don't like for them to be gory or really upsetting. So I tried to think of creatures that could create huge problems for Arlie, but still be funny at the same time. I think hamsters have the undisputed title as the funniest house pet, so when I was trying to figure out what kind of pet would be in a cursed grave, there was no competition. In the end, though, I had to spend a lot of time with these guys -- I didn't want anything too traumatic. I have to sleep too!
How many books will be in the series?
There are three books in the series right now -- the third one, Night of the Living Lawn Ornaments, is due out in March. I definitely wouldn't mind writing more, though! I'd love to work on more adventures for Arlie, Ty and Mr. Boots.
When confronted by strange and extraordinary things, Arlie's parents, schoolmates, and other townspeople either rationalize them away or lie about them. That reminded me of Sunnydale, the fictional town where Buffy the Vampire Slayer lived. Will all of the books take place in Arlie's school or town, or will she ever encounter terror while on vacation?
The first three books all take place in Arlie's town, but I think Arlie's got bad enough luck that she'll run into problems wherever she goes. The vacation idea would be a lot of fun though. Or maybe a school trip -- I can just see a stowaway Mr. Boots sliding around under the seats on a school bus.
That could be quite the adventure! What are your favorite sci-fi shows?
I really like the show Quantum Leap (although I was never happy about the Evil Leaper) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Does that count as sci-fi?)
That totally counts. I think of BtVS as sci-fi-slash-fantasy-slash-horror. What about your favorite sci-fi-slash-fantasy books?
I'm also a huge fan of the books of Connie Willis, Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, Nancy Farmer, Jack Finney, Scott Westerfeld and Douglas Adams. I loved the Hitchhiker's Guide books and the Infocom video game that was based on the first book. All of the Infocom text based games were great, especially Zork -- I loved the way the mailbox would cavort like a happy rabbit.
What are your top ten favorite books of all time?
Wow, that's hard to answer. These are in no particular order, and will probably change if you ask me again in an hour, because I know I'm leaving out a million awesome books.
Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (or the books in The Saturdays series, I couldn't decide)
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
Half Magic by Edward Eager
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Visit Emily's extremely cute website.
Want to know more about Arlie's adventures? Check out my Funny Fiction for Kids booklist!
Thursday's WBBT interviews:
Martin Millar at Chasing Ray
John Green at Writing and Ruminating
Beth Kephart at HipWriterMama
Emily Ecton at Bildungsroman
John David Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Brandon Mull at The YA YA YAs
Lisa Papademetriou at MotherReader