Publishers' Preview: Debut Authors: Taylor Tyng

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2023 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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In Clara Poole and the Long Way Round, our eponymous heroine (along with some unlikely sidekicks) joins a most unusual hot-air balloon race.

1. I’m not going up in one of those. Have you?

My parents had a travel company in France when I was younger, and I got to go up several times. I remember being high above the countryside and still hearing screen doors closing and people’s conversations from the farms below. There is a stillness and beauty to the world when ballooning, unlike anything I’ve experienced. Try it, perhaps. You might find it to be more peaceful than you think.

2. What does this story have in common with the books you loved as a child?

Wanderlust. A world greater than you. I adored books that would transport me to far-off places — real or imaginary — and immerse me in new cultures and geographies. I hope Clara’s adventures fill young readers with the desire to explore the bigger world firsthand rather than through a screen.

3. Which of the several real-world wonders Clara visits would you most like to visit yourself?

I was fortunate to visit Morocco years ago but never got to the Sahara. Sailing over the open desert under a full moon would be my first choice. However, I’ve promised myself that if this series becomes popular, I will take my family to all the places Clara visits.

4. What Race could you be the Face of?

 I’d crush the field if there were a competition for speed organization and packing. I consider my systematizing and spacial arranging abilities to be Olympic-caliber.

5. Has there been a Greta Gildersleeve in your life?

Greta is the synthesis of countless mentors who have guided me. Mostly, though, I wrote Greta’s character as a message to my future self — that I won’t be idle or stop learning in my later years, that I will continue to collide with new experiences, and that I will always find hope and wonder around me.

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Photo: Taylor Tyng.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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