Publishers' Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for C. C. Harrington

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2022 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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Kicked out of school for behavioral problems, Maggie is sent by her parents to stay with her grandfather in Cornwall, where she finds adventure and transformation in a forest called Wildoak.

1. Children sent west is a durable theme in children’s fiction. Do you have a favorite example?

This is such an interesting question! As a child, I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, which is perhaps the best-known example. I’m excited to read A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus, which came out last year and was directly inspired by Operation Pied Piper.

2. Do you talk to animals?

I talk to our dog all the time! And I used to talk to my cats when I was little. They talked back, of course, in lots of ways.

3. Where is your favorite tree?

I have a favorite forest, full of my favorite trees. It’s on the south coast of Cornwall in the UK and is called Roundwood. It belongs to the National Trust, and it’s open to the public.

4. Did you have a Fred?

I never knew either of my grandfathers, so in that sense I didn’t. But there is something about Fred’s gentleness and thoughtfulness that reminds me of my brothers. I’m a lot younger than they are and have always felt they were looking out for me.

5. What did you learn about yourself in writing this — your first! — novel?

It’s the first to be published, but I had written two others by the time I finished this one. So, this book taught me not to give up on writing, even when it felt impossible. I’ve learned from each of the characters in Wildoak, too. From Rumpus, I learned to put aside my human-centric gaze and to think about the world from an animal’s perspective. From Maggie, I learned how to listen with humility and compassion, how hard it is to be brave, and how important it is to recognize the unique power of each voice. From the old oak, I learned that despite our differences, we are part of one shared world; all of us — animals, humans, plants — are connected in the most essential, fragile, and beautiful ways.

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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. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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