Exclusive Exclusive Interview with Liesl Shurtliff in which she tells us things she has told NO ONE!!!


Hello, Ms. Shurtliff. Thank you so much for answering my questions today. Rump published just under 3 months ago. Could you share with us what these few months have been like?

In a word (or two) crazy fun! I’ve visited so many schools and kids in the past few months and just LOVE that I can finally share my book with its intended audience. The excitement and enthusiasm has completely overwhelmed me and I’m so grateful.

The fist book Liesl ever wrote. It is also the last book she ever illustrated.

The fist book Liesl ever wrote. It is also the last book she ever illustrated.

Let’s cut to the chase. Could you share with us your exciting news?

Rump is getting a couple of companions! Knopf/Random House just announced that they will publish JACK: THE TRUE STORY OF JACK AND THE BEANSTALK in Spring of 2015, followed by RED: THE TRUE STORY OF LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD in 2016. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Liesl's notebooks for Jack and Red. Prize to the one who guesses which is which. Could be tricky!

Liesl’s notebooks for Jack and Red. Prize to the one who guesses which is which. Could be tricky!

What?!?! That is such exciting news. By companion do you mean that Jack’s world exists in the world that you create in RUMP?

Yep! Generally a companion novel is set in the same world as the previous story, but not necessarily a continuation of that story. Much of Jack’s story is set in Rump’s world, and there are certain characters from Rump who return in Jack’s story, and certain events in Rump’s story that affect Jack’s story. That’s all I will say for now. (Mwahahaha.)

Liesl's journals

Liesl’s journals

Please share how these stories came to be. Did you think of them before/during/or after you wrote RUMP?

I actually had always planned to do a story for Red from the moment she stepped on the pages of Rump. She’s such a fun and dynamic character and her world seemed so full of magic and mystery, I knew she would have her own tale to tell. However, as I was finishing Rump, I got the idea for Jack, and that turned out to be the logical follow-up to Rump for several reason. He’s quite a fun and adventurous fellow. I can’t wait for readers to meet him.

I am a big fan of companion novels. My favorite being Okay For Now the companion to Gary Schmidt’s Wednesday Wars. What companions are your favorites and what do you feel it takes to write a successful companion story?

I’m also a fan, and generally prefer companions to sequels or direct series (most of the time.) I love Ingrid Law’s Scumble, companion to Savvy, also Richard Peck’s A Year Down Yonder, companion to A Long Way From Chicago. I think writing a good companion takes finding that sweet balance of weaving in the flavor and threads of the previous story while making the companion totally fresh and individual. It must stand on its own, but at the same time have connections to the first story that make a reader feel they’re finding hidden treasures that were never found in the first story.

Ms. Shurtliff's bookshelves

Ms. Shurtliff’s bookshelves

I think it would be a lot of fun to spend a day in Rump’s world. If you could spend ONE day in the world of a book which book would you pick?

Perhaps it will seem cliche, but without a doubt I’d choose the world of Harry Potter, specifically Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. Once my daughter told me (with a bit of emotion) that she really wished she would get an owl bearing a letter from Hogwarts. I told her I wished for it too. I really do.

One final questions.  Will the gnomes be in the companion books?

Likely, but probably won’t take as much of a role as they did in Rump. Trolls will make a great appearance in Red, though.

Liesl Shurtliff was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the mountains for her playground. Just like Rump, Liesl was shy about her name, growing up. Not only did it rhyme with weasel, she could never find it on any of those personalized key chains in gift shops. But over the years she’s grown to love having an unusual name—and today she wouldn’t change it for the world!
Before she became a writer, Liesl graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in music, dance, and theater. She now lives in Chicago with her husband and three young children, where she still dreams of the mountains. Rump is her first novel.

You can find Liesl online at http://lieslshurtliff.com and on Twitter as @lieslshurtliff.